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Can you Lawfully Resist Arrest in Alabama

Posted by Erik Fine | Aug 10, 2020 | 0 Comments

 

You cannot lawfully resist arrest in Alabama by using force! 

What is resisting arrest?

Resisting arrest occurs when someone interferes with a lawful arrest by a law enforcement officer. In Alabama, it is a misdemeanor. It may be the use of force against the police, or even threats of physical injury.    Sometimes it may be charged with fleeing or evading police custody. 

Section 13A-10-41 Resisting arrest.

(a) A person commits the crime of resisting arrest if he intentionally prevents or attempts to prevent a peace officer from affecting a lawful arrest of himself or of another person.

(b) Resisting arrest is a Class B misdemeanor.

May force be used to prevent an unlawful arrest in Alabama?

The short answer is no. However, if you reasonably believed your life was in danger or compelled to defend yourself from serious threat of imminent death or physical injury, then you may be able to argue Self-Defense or Duress to a charge of Resisting Arrest.

The best course of action is to comply with law enforcement officers and keep calm, even to an unlawful arrest.  Your legal rights may be argued in court, instead of a body bag. 

 

What is a Law Enforcement Officer in Alabama?

As used in this article, the term "law enforcement officer" shall mean an official who is certified by the Alabama Peace Officers' Standards and Training Commission who has authority to make arrests and who is employed by any municipality in the state as a permanent and regular employee with law enforcement duties, including police chiefs and deputy police chiefs. The term does not include any person elected by popular vote, any person who is serving a probationary period of employment, or any person whose term of office has expired.

Ala. Code § 11-43-231 (1975)

How Much Resistance is Required?

Not much.  State laws also vary as to the kinds of acts and threats that will constitute resisting arrest. Physical violence is enough, while a simple refusal to talk is not enough. Non-threatening statements of disagreement with the officer's actions usually are not enough. However, loud, threatening, and extended arguments may be enough.

Below we look at the defense of Duress and Self-Defense as potential defenses to a Resisting Arrest charge in Alabama:

2012 Code of Alabama
Title 13A - CRIMINAL CODE.
Chapter 3 - DEFENSES.
Section 13A-3-30 - Duress.

Universal Citation: AL Code § 13A-3-30 (2012)

Section 13A-3-30 Duress.

(a) It is a defense to prosecution that the actor engaged in the proscribed conduct because he was compelled to do so by the threat of imminent death or serious physical injury to himself or another.

(b) The defense provided by this section is unavailable if the actor intentionally or recklessly placed himself in a situation in which it was probable that he would be subjected to duress. The defense is also unavailable if he was negligent in placing himself in such a situation, whenever negligence suffices to establish culpability for the offense charged.

(c) It is no defense that a person acted at the command or persuasion of his or her spouse, unless such compulsion would establish a defense under this section. The presumption that a woman is subject to compulsion when acting in the presence of her husband is abolished.

(d) The defense provided by this section is unavailable in a prosecution for:

(1) murder; or

(2) any killing of another under aggravated circumstances, as provided by Article 2 of Chapter 5 of this title.

Self Defense and Defense of Others

Alabama Code Title 13A. Criminal Code § 13A-3-23

(a) A person is justified in using physical force upon another person in order to defend himself or herself or a third person from what he or she reasonably believes to be the use or imminent use of unlawful physical force by that other person, and he or she may use a degree of force which he or she reasonably believes to be necessary for the purpose.  A person may use deadly physical force, and is legally presumed to be justified in using deadly physical force in self-defense or the defense of another person pursuant to subdivision (5), if the person reasonably believes that another person is:

(1) Using or about to use unlawful deadly physical force.

(2) Using or about to use physical force against an occupant of a dwelling while committing or attempting to commit a burglary of such dwelling.

(3) Committing or about to commit a kidnapping in any degree, assault in the first or second degree, burglary in any degree, robbery in any degree, forcible rape, or forcible sodomy.

(4) Using or about to use physical force against an owner, employee, or other person authorized to be on business property when the business is closed to the public while committing or attempting to commit a crime involving death, serious physical injury, robbery, kidnapping, rape, sodomy, or a crime of a sexual nature involving a child under the age of 12.

Self Defense and Duress could both technically be used as a defense to the charge of Resisting Arrest.  However, the arrest must be unlawful, and that would be a hard row to hoe for a defendant.   If you have been charged with Resisting Arrest, please contact an experienced criminal defense lawyer immediately.

 

2012 Code of Alabama
Title 13A - CRIMINAL CODE.
Chapter 3 - DEFENSES.
Section 13A-3-28 - Use of force in resisting arrest prohibited.

Universal Citation: AL Code § 13A-3-28 (2012)

Section 13A-3-28 Use of force in resisting arrest prohibited.

A person may not use physical force to resist a lawful arrest by a peace officer who is known or reasonably appears to be a peace officer.

Self Defense and Duress could both technically be used as a defense to the charge of Resisting Arrest.  However, the arrest must be unlawful.  If you have been charged with Resisting Arrest, please contact an experienced criminal defense lawyer immediately.

 

About the Author

Erik Fine

Attorney Erik D. Fine, A.A., B.S., J.D. Mr. Fine, an Alabama native, is a graduate of Mountain Brook Public Schools. He received an athletic scholarship to play baseball at Kansas City Kansas Community College from which he graduated with an Associates Degree in Law Enforcement in 1989. It was i...

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