Can You Legally Resist Arrest in Alabama?

Close up of an officer putting handcuffs on a young man

The act of resisting arrest occurs when someone:

  • intentionally prevents law enforcement from making a lawful arrest or discharging another official duty, and
  • the individual poses a substantial risk of bodily injury to the officer or anyone else or behaves in a way that justifies the use of force to overcome the resistance.

The language in the statement mentioned above is essential. Read on to learn why.

Alabama Code §13A-10-41

The official Alabama Code §13A-10-41 states the following:

  • “A person commits the crime of resisting arrest if he intentionally prevents or attempts to prevent a peace officer from effecting a lawful arrest of himself or of another person.
  • Resisting arrest is a Class B misdemeanor.”

Resisting Arrest in Alabama

Resistance to arrest only occurs when law enforcement is prevented from making a lawful arrest. This distinction is crucial because you cannot be convicted of resisting arrest for an arrest that is unlawful.

You Must Be Innocent to Resist Arrest

It’s important to keep in mind that you may only legally resist arrest if you are innocent. If you have committed a crime and resist arrest, you may be charged with a Class B misdemeanor.

However, if you resist arrest because you did not commit the crime that the law enforcement officers are accusing you of, you may be able to fight the resisting arrest charge in court.

You May Not Use Force

Under Alabama Code §13A-3-28, if you witness or are subjected to an unlawful arrest, you are not legally allowed to use force to prevent the arrest from occurring. However, if you fear for your life or otherwise feel compelled to defend yourself from a major threat of imminent death or physical harm, you might be able to argue self-defense or duress to a resisting arrest charge.

If you are unlawfully arrested or witness an unlawful arrest, the best way to proceed is by complying with the officers’ requests and remaining calm. Keep in mind that law enforcement officers in America have guns, and they’re often not afraid to use them. You can challenge a false arrest in court, but only if you’re alive to do so.

What Is Considered “Resistance”

Not a lot of resistance is required for a resisting arrest charge. You can be charged with resisting arrest for committing an act of physical violence, although you cannot be charged for simply refusing to speak.

If you declare non-threatening statements of disagreement with the police officer’s actions, that’s usually not enough for a viable charge of resisting arrest. But if you get into a loud and threatening argument with a law enforcement officer, that may be enough for a resisting arrest charge.

Elements of the Crime

For you to be convicted for a charge of resisting arrest, the prosecution must be able to prove all the elements of the crime, including:

  • That you understood or reasonably should have known that the individual you were resisting was a law enforcement officer;
  • That the officer was lawfully conducting his or her duties; and
  • That you intentionally resisted arrest.

What Resisting Arrest Can Look Like

You may be accused of resisting arrest for doing any of the following:

  • Physically struggling against or striking an officer while he or she is trying to arrest you;
  • Providing a fake name or other inaccurate personal information to a law enforcement officer; or
  • Forcing an officer to lift or drag you to make the arrest.

Our Attorney, Victor Revill, Has Been Through It

All sorts of people are unlawfully arrested for all kinds of reasons. Our very own, Attorney Victor Revill, was falsely arrested in 2017 just for doing his job: defending his client.

Take it from a team who’s been there; you don’t have to accept an unlawful charge for resisting arrest. You have rights, and they must be recognized and protected.

Call Revill Law Firm today at (205) 928-6544 to speak with an accomplished Birmingham attorney about your case.