Everyone knows – or should know – it is against the law to resist arrest, even if you’re not guilty of a crime, by fighting or otherwise physically resisting a police officer. If you’re charged with resisting arrest in Missouri, contact a Jefferson County criminal defense attorney right away.

Someone can be convicted of resisting arrest even if that person did not commit the crime that prompted the arrest, and you have no right to resist even an unlawful arrest in this state.

What Constitutes Resisting Arrest in Missouri?

In fact, here in Missouri, the legal definition of resisting arrest includes a range of behaviors and does not even necessarily entail violent physical resistance to a police officer. You can also be charged with resisting arrest if:

  1. You ignore a siren or flashing lights while you’re driving, and you flee from a police officer in traffic.
  2. You interfere with the arrest, stop, or detention of another person by using or by threatening the use of violence, physical force, or other physical interference.

Missouri law presumes that you were resisting the police if you kept driving after you had seen and heard (or after you should have seen and heard) the emergency lights and sirens of a police vehicle that was pursuing you.

What Are the Penalties for a Resisting Arrest Conviction?

Resisting or interfering with a misdemeanor arrest is usually charged as a misdemeanor in Missouri. A conviction is punishable with up to a year in jail and/or a fine of up to $2,500.

However, in the following circumstances, resisting arrest may be charged as a felony offense:

  1. The person who allegedly resisted arrest created a substantial risk of serious physical injury or death to one or more other persons.
  2. The arrest was based on a felony arrest warrant, a warrant for failure to appear in a felony case, or a warrant for a probation violation arising from a felony conviction.

A felony conviction for resisting arrest in this state is punishable with up to four years in prison and/or a fine of up to $25,000.

What Are the Other Consequences of a Criminal Conviction?

However, the legal penalties are not the only consequences of a conviction for resisting arrest. There are considerable extra-legal consequences. Your applications for employment, housing, loans, and college admissions may be denied if your conviction appears on a background check.

If you are an immigrant in Missouri, a resisting arrest conviction could trigger a deportation proceeding. If you hold a professional license in this state, a resisting arrest conviction could lead to a disciplinary action by your professional licensing board.

And if you are charged with another crime in the future, you’ll have a previous conviction on your criminal record. All of these reasons are the reasons why, if you are charged with resisting arrest, it is imperative to have the right criminal defense attorney advocating on your behalf.

How Will the Right Attorney Defend You?

A resisting arrest case often boils down to the defendant’s word about what happened versus the arresting officer’s. If a police officer used excessive force to arrest you, or if your language was rude but not threatening, your lawyer may be able to use these facts in your defense.

If you are charged with resisting arrest, contact a Missouri criminal defense lawyer as quickly as you can to discuss your case and to retain the aggressive and effective defense representation that you are very much going to need.

Your defense attorney will investigate what happened, review any video evidence or eyewitness statements, and determine if the police officer who was involved has any history of questionable arrests. The right defense attorney will quickly determine the real truth about what happened.

What Is Required to Convict You of Resisting Arrest?

To convict you of resisting arrest in the State of Missouri, a prosecutor must offer persuasive evidence that:

  1. You intentionally resisted arrest by acting or by threatening to act violently against a law enforcement officer, by taking flight to evade an officer, or by interfering with the arrest, stop, or detention of another person, and
  2. The law enforcement officer was lawfully engaged in his or her official law enforcement duties.

What Are the Defenses to a Resisting Arrest Charge?

Depending on the specific details of the charge against you, a Jefferson County criminal defense lawyer may offer one of these defenses on your behalf:

  1. The officer used excessive force and you acted in self-defense. Police officers may use only the amount of force necessary to make an arrest, but additional force is unjustified. If you genuinely fear imminent injury or death, you have the right to defend yourself.
  2. You were charged for resisting arrest simply because the officer did not like your words, looks, or attitude. If you offer this defense, you will probably need eyewitness statements or persuasive video evidence that supports your claim.
  3. If the officer did not identify himself or herself as a police officer, you were not “intentionally resisting an officer,” and if you and your attorney can prove this defense, you should be acquitted by a jury or the case should be dismissed.

If You Are Placed Under Arrest

If you are placed under arrest for any reason, try to be as friendly and cooperative as possible while firmly insisting on your rights. Do not give your verbal consent to a search of your home or vehicle, but do not resist if the police insist on conducting a search without your consent.

Simply say, “You do not have my consent to conduct this search.” Similarly, if you are questioned by the police, say something like, “I’m sorry officer, but I would prefer to exercise my right to remain silent.” Do not, under any circumstances, physically resist the police.

When Should You Contact a Criminal Defense Lawyer?

If you are already under arrest and about to be charged with a crime, the last thing you need is another criminal charge – with the potential for even more severe criminal penalties. A criminal conviction can take your freedom, devastate your family, and make your future uncertain.

If you are charged with resisting arrest in Missouri, or with any other misdemeanor or felony, contact a Jefferson County criminal defense attorney at once. If you are charged with any crime, having a good defense attorney’s help is your right. Exercise that right and get the help you need.