Let me say it at the outset – DO NOT RESIST ARREST!
Harken back with me to the 1980’s where action movies dispensed more life lessons in two hours than you could find during an entire season of Dr. Phil.
When Rocky Balboa had problems with Apollo Creed, Clubber Lang (AKA - Mr. T), or the big Russian, did he challenge them to a street fight? No of course not. He saved it for the ring –with Coach Mickey in his corner. (And yes, I am purposely ignoring Rocky’s street fight with Tommy Morrison in Rocky 5. True Rocky fans don’t acknowledge that that move ever existed. Besides – Rocky 5 came out in 1990, so we’re good.)
In the first Karate Kid, did Daniel LoRusso succeed by fighting the gang of menacing Cobra Kai karate fighters at the high school dance? No – he saved it for the ring at the big karate tournament – with Coach Mr. Miyagi in his corner.
Do you see a common theme here? Good! Now stay with me on how all of this applies to getting arrested.
All year long I have seen on the news people either getting shot, injured, beaten, or “escorted” to the ground in police related encounters. After which, I have heard two divergent stories: The police say the suspect was resisting arrest. The suspect says (if he is still able to speak) that he was brutalized. Guess what? It doesn’t really matter who started to conflict – the law is clear: WHEN POLICE SAY STOP –YOU STOP! WHEN POLICE SAY YOU ARE UNDER ARREST – YOU ARE UNDER ARREST.
In the Ferguson, Missouri case, Michael Brown was shot by Officer Darren Wilson after resisting arrest on August 9, 2014. What can we learn from this case?
If you are told you are under arrest by a person you recognize to be a police officer, just do the following:
1) Say thank you or I understand
2) Turn around if told to do so
3) Make your hands visible - either out in
front of you, or on top of your head
4) Drop to your knees if you have to. Keep your hands visible
5) Do anything that lets the police officer know that you are not going to interfere with his right to go home to his family at the end of his shift.
2) Try to convince him you are innocent
3) Start reciting the Constitution
4) Quote Perry Mason or Thomas Jefferson
Just be quiet and let the officer put his handcuffs on you.
Mark, you are a lawyer! Why are you telling me to cooperate with police?
Hold on there, Chief!
I didn’t say “cooperate” by turning State’s evidence. I didn’t say take a breath test (good God don’t do that); I didn’t say to do field sobriety tests (don’t do those either); I didn’t say consent to a search of your car (never do that); I didn’t say for you to confess; I didn’t say for you to “dime out” your accomplices; I didn’t say for you to forget about your right to remain silent.
I said do not resist arrest.
Besides, anyone who has ever been declared not guilty by a judge or jury first had to be arrested and eventually taken to a courtroom. An arrest is not the end of the road, rather it is the beginning of your legal journey. Accept the arrest, be a good detainee, and call a lawyer once you get to the police station.
To find a dedicated criminal lawyer in New Hampshire - Call 595-5525
You mean even if I don’t think I should be arrested, I should just go willingly?
Yes. Exactly. If you go quietly, you will be taken to the police station. You will eventually be bailed out or brought to court where a judge can decide what happens to you. If you resist arrest by running away, fighting with the officer, or preventing him from putting his handcuffs on you, you will either:
1) End up in court with a “Resisting Arrest” charge (which I guarantee will be more difficult to get dropped than whatever you were being arrested for in the first place);
2) End up in the hospital due to having been:
a. “escorted to the pavement” or
b. “escorted across the hood of a police car”
c. “escorted” to some other unfortunate fate by way of mace, a baton (formally known as a “billy club”), or a K-9 unit (formally known as a sharp toothed, snarling mammal that looks like Rin Tin Tin and bites like Cujo); or
3) The morgue.
So where do I get to air my grievances and stand up for my rights?
Save it for the ring – which in your case is COURT. Think of it as the “ring of justice”. Remember the examples of Rocky and Karate Kid? Both movies had our protagonists resolving their disputes in a formal competition, with rules, and procedures, and fair play. They had coaches on their side and in their corners. They had referees to make sure a fair fight happened.
That is what court is all about – resolving your case is a structured setting with rules and fair play. Instead of a referee you have a judge. Instead of a coach, you have a lawyer in your corner – whose only job is to look out for you.
I am not saying that you have to be happy about being arrested. No one expects you to smile about the fact that you are being handcuffed and booked and put in a cell for a few hours with a dirty toilet.
But I am saying that no matter how awful it is to be arrested – it only gets worse when you resist arrest. And like I said before, a “Resisting Arrest” charge is almost impossible to negotiate away with police, prosecutors, or judges. No one likes to see a “Resisting Arrest” charge.
Why? Because anyone who has anything to do with the American criminal justice system (including yours truly) believes that legal disputes must be fought in courtrooms between lawyers and not on the streets with police.
Do not resist arrest. What is resisting? Damn near anything other than turning around, giving the officer your hands, and letting him handcuff you.
Every day (and especially on Monday mornings) I see “Resisting Arrest” cases where my clients thought it would be helpful to run from police, refuse to turn around to be cuffed (“No – wait officer! I wasn’t done telling you about my rights!”), or refuse to get into the police car, etc.
Now – if you are unsure of whether you are under arrest – JUST ASK! If you are, then OBEY. If you are not under arrest, then politely decline to answer any questions that will incriminate you and ask to be on your way. But don’t leave or go anywhere until the officer says you can go. That’s resisting detention – which is a crime just like resisting arrest. (I know, I know – but hey, I didn’t say you have to like it).
Lastly, if you have a medical emergency or a non-obvious injury that compromises your ability to be comfortably handcuffed or enclosed in the back of a police cruiser, TELL THE OFFICER RIGHT AWAY – and KEEP YOUR HANDS WHERE HE CAN SEE THEM.
Remember, the bottom line is that the officer doesn’t care as much about your case or what happens in court as much as he does about going home safely to his family at the end of his shift.
So, on the street you need to take every measure you can to let your arresting officer know that it is not your intent to harm him.
Again, I am not saying confess. No one is saying that police always behave either, but the burden of compliance is on YOU.
So – don’t resist arrest. Save your legal battle for the ring. Justin and I will be in your corner.
Call us at 603-595-5525
By Shepherd and Osborne