Being put under arrest is unpleasant, yes, but it is common knowledge that resisting can leave you open to further charges – namely “resisting arrest.” The key phrase here is “further charges.” If you are already being arrested for something – whether or not you believe you are guilty – the last thing you want to do is give law enforcement reasons to tack on more charges and penalties.
What if you’re being wrongly arrested, though? Aren’t there certain regulations the police must follow in order to make an arrest? Shouldn’t you make it known if you don’t think you are being arrested legitimately? You can’t simply be arrested for resisting arrest… can you?
If you ask one group of Nacogdoches women, they’ll tell you that in Texas, you absolutely can.
One young woman in that group currently faces resisting arrest charges after an incident where an off-duty police officer used excessive force during arrest on a courtesy security round at his apartment complex.
A friend explained, “The officer was belligerent. He was violent. He was disrespectful. He dehumanized my friend.”
Doesn’t seem like someone should be facing charges after dealing with that, does it?
So, how can something seemingly so illogical happen? We’ll tell you.
Before that, however, we want to share what exactly is required of officers during arrest here in the state of Texas.
Regulations for Proper Arrest in Texas
Texas law enforcement officials have a very limited scope in their authority to place an individual under arrest:
- An officer must have either personally observed a crime or must have probable cause to believe the person committed a crime, or the officer must have an arrest warrant.
- The arresting officer must justify the arrest – typically through some tangible evidence that led him or her to probable cause. A vague “hunch” someone might be a criminal won’t work.
- Police are not allowed to use any excessive force beyond the minimum amount necessary to protect themselves while bringing a suspect into custody.
When Texas Arrest Regulations Aren’t Met
Okay, so then what happens when it doesn’t seem those regulations are being met?
Dash-cam footage of the Nacogdoches incident, for instance, reveals that unless the car was stolen, the plain-clothed person was a cop. However, the footage certainly didn’t reveal any crime – nothing more than a group of women hanging out together. Because of this, it will be interesting to hear the officer’s explanation for probable cause.
Texas law states that a person commits the offense of resisting arrest when they intentionally prevent or obstruct a person known to be a peace officer (Texas law allows private citizens to help the police through citizen’s arrest as well) from effecting an arrest of the actor or another by using force against the officer.
Additionally, the law outlines that an unlawful arrest or search is not grounds for defense when facing charges of resisting arrest.
That is completely and utterly unfair, but it’s also the law. In fact, this very point is exactly why Texans are advised to never resist an arrest or argue with police, even if they believe the arrest is inappropriate. It is better for an arrestee to challenge an unjustified or incorrect arrest later with the help of an attorney and, when warranted, through a civil rights case.
What are the consequences of resisting arrest?
A resisting arrest charge is considered a Class A misdemeanor on a first-time offense, or a state jail felony if you’ve been previously convicted. Upon conviction, you face a one-year jail sentence and up to $4,000 in fines. Additionally, charges may be upgraded to third-degree felony when a deadly weapon is used during resistance.
About the Author:
Brandon Fulgham has an in-depth understanding of both Texas law and Texans themselves. Before practicing law here, he received his undergraduate degree from TCU, and his law degree from South Texas College of Law in Houston. After graduation, he worked in District Attorneys’ offices as a prosecutor, building cases designed to put people behind bars. Now, he uses that knowledge to protect the rights of people in and around Fort Worth, making sure they receive the strongest possible defense when they find themselves on the wrong side of the law. He has been recognized for his work by The National Trial Lawyers, Fort Worth Magazine, and others.