What is Resisting Arrest in Houston?

August 4th, 2022 by Tad Nelson in Understanding Texas Law

Although struggling with the police might make a good episode of Cops, it’s disastrous for your criminal case. Texas has laws on the books which are designed to punish offenders for refusing to go quietly when police decide to arrest them. Depending on which side of the bed a prosecutor wakes up on, they could hammer you with additional criminal penalties on top of whatever substantive offense you were arrested for. At Tad Nelson & Associates, we can fight back the legal way.

Texas Law on Resisting Arrest

Texas Penal Code Section 38.03 is the Resisting Arrest statute. It criminalizes using force to intentionally prevent or obstruct a person you know is a police officer (or someone acting at the officer’s direction) from making an arrest, search, or transportation of either yourself or another person.

Let’s break that down. To get a conviction, the prosecutor must show:

  • You knew the person making the arrest was a peace officer or acting at the peace officer’s direction.
  • You used force to prevent or obstruct the arrest, search, or transportation.
  • You acted with intention, i.e., intentionally tried to prevent or obstruct the officer or the person acting at the officer’s direction.

Examples of Resisting Arrest

Some of the more common examples include:

  • Scuffling with the police who are trying to handcuff you.
  • Sending your dogs to attack an officer arresting your boyfriend.
  • Parking your car in front of a police cruiser so the officer can’t get out of your driveway after arresting your child.
  • Pushing or shoving an officer trying to arrest a family member.

Penalties for Resisting Arrest

In most cases, this is a Class A misdemeanor. You can face:

  • Up to a year in county jail
  • A maximum $4,000 fine

Should you resist with a deadly weapon, then you can be charged with a third-degree felony. Penalties include:

  • Between 2 and 10 years in jail
  • A maximum $10,000 fine
  • Loss of certain civil rights, such as the right to vote and possess firearms

Can You Defend Resisting Arrest Charges?

It’s possible if the facts support a defense. However, at the outset, the law states that it isn’t a defense to argue the arrest was unlawful. This is a problem for defendants, because by its nature an unlawful arrest should never have happened. It’s understandable that some people would resist being arrested in those circumstances.

One defense might be that you didn’t intend to obstruct or prevent an arrest. For example, you might have passed out due to exhaustion or shock, which made it harder for police to arrest you. If you end up blocking the police cruiser with your car, you might have done so unintentionally.

Arrest scenes are often chaotic. There is a lot going on, and your actions might have been motivated by confusion, not necessarily any desire to obstruct a peace officer.

Let Tad Nelson fully analyze your case to determine whether these or other defenses are available. Please contact our firm today to learn more.

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