Resisting Arrest: Penalties and Laws

Resisting arrest is a common yet subjective charge that can occur during practically any police interaction in which an individual is being placed under arrest. Unfortunately, individuals are sometimes charged with resisting arrest under circumstances where they may not intentionally be resisting, or there may be a misunderstanding of what is actually happening.

These charges also tend to be generated by a specific and concentrated portion of departments throughout the country. In fact, a study of NYPD arrests found that just 5% of the department generated over 40% of all of these charges. This trend can be attributed to certain officers who are more inclined to aggressively charge individuals, sometimes unfairly, with resisting arrest.

An individual who finds themselves in this situation usually has a number of questions running through their head. Some of the biggest questions are things such as if the charge will be a misdemeanor or a felony, or if they will be serving jail time. The answers to these questions and more can be difficult to determine as an outside observer, and are especially challenging for an individual to navigate when they are actually facing the charges themselves. The following information seeks to help individuals charged with resisting arrest in Michigan answer these questions and inform them of the penalties they could be facing as a result of a conviction.

Michigan Law

Resisting arrest can be charged as either a misdemeanor or a felony depending on the circumstances of the case. The penalties that may be assessed are dependent on the facts of the case and the way in which the individual is charged. In Michigan, a resisting arrest charge is usually referred to as “R&O”, which stands for “resisting and obstructing.”

Under Michigan law, resisting and obstructing is defined as occurring when an individual:

“…assaults, batters, wounds, resists, obstructs, opposes, or endangers a person who the individual knows or has reason to know is performing his duties.”

What’s interesting to note is that you don’t have to physically assault an officer to be charged with this crime. In fact, simply disobeying a command of the officer can result in this charge. This is where the subjectivity comes into play, and the potential for unreasonable or unfair charges exists.

It’s also worth mentioning that, in Michigan, the sentence for resisting arrest can run consecutive to other charges incurred from the same interaction. What this means is that an individual may have to serve time for this crime before serving time for any other charges, adding to the total amount of time spent incarcerated.

Penalties for Resisting Arrest in Michigan

In Michigan, resisting arrest can only be charged as a misdemeanor under a local city ordinance. If an individual is charged under state law, there is the possibility that they will be charged with a felony.

The penalty imposed depends on whether there was injury or death of the officer involved. Even for situations where no officer was injured or died, charges can result in an individual spending up to 2 years in prison and/or paying a $2,000 fine.

If an officer is injured or killed, the following punishments come into play:

  • If the officer incurs bodily injury that requires medical attention, you may be subject to up to 4 years in prison and/or a $5,000 fine
  • If the officer incurs a serious impairment of body function, you may be subject to up to 15 years in prison and/or a $10,000 fine
  • If the officer dies, you may be subject to up to 20 years in prison and/or a $20,000 fine

What You Should Do When Being Charged

As it has been made clear, a charge for resisting arrest can happen from even a simple misunderstanding or exaggeration of events by the arresting officers. Normal good people can sometimes be caught in this, and find themselves charged with a felony even if they had the best intentions or if they were confused as to the officer’s demands.

If you’re being charged resisting arrest in Michigan, you need an experienced criminal defense attorney who has an intimate understanding of these laws as well as a solid relationship with the courts. Having a good defense is critical for ensuring you receive the best outcome possible, instead of adding time onto a potentially lengthy sentence.