In Arizona, there is actually a statute that defines what it means to resist arrest — lawmakers did this to ensure there would be no confusion in the courtroom after an arrest has been made, as resisting arrest is often a charge that is added to, or that happens in addition to, other charges at the same time.
Arizona Revised Statute 13-2508: Resisting Arrest in the State of Arizona
According to Arizona Revised Statute (ARS) 13-2508, resisting arrest in Arizona is defined as the act of intentionally preventing an arrest by either:
- Using or threatening to use physical force
- Creating substantial risk or physical injury
- Passively resisting an arrest through nonviolent physical means in a manner meant to impede, delay, or otherwise hinder an arrest
Passive Resistance of Arrest
Because it is one of the most common forms of resisting arrest today, and because peaceful resistance of arrest is known as a tool of protestors and others during the course of exercising their First Amendment right to free speech, it is important to understand passive resistance to arrest.
Passive resistance can mean more than one thing, but it is important to understand that the same rules for resisting arrest that apply to someone violently resisting through physical harm to authorities will also apply to someone who is peacefully resisting. And, in the courtroom, an Arizona judge is not likely to note the difference between a peaceful resistance and a physical revolt against arrest, with the only obvious difference — which would result in further charges — being resisting arrest in a violent manner that resulted in an injury or injuries to one or more police officers or other authorities.
A peaceful or nonviolent resistance to arrest can simply mean failure to act when told you are under arrest, refusing to put your hands behind your back, refusing to get out of your car or move from a specific physical space when an officer or other authority has commanded you to, or “dead weighting” your body in such a manner that arresting you and moving you from where you are on the street or another public space into a patrol car is exceedingly difficult for authorities.
ARS 13-2508 Includes Quite a Bit of Unclear Language
While Arizona law does have a specific statute for resisting arrest as noted above, Arizona Revised Statute 13-2508 is difficult to pin down, not only for officers and citizenry, but even for the courts and judges themselves. The statute contains a lot of room for interpretation — or misinterpretation — that makes it incredibly broad, far reaching, and frankly, that gives both the state and the person who allegedly resisted arrest a good amount of wiggle room.
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