In 2015, Texas saw the arrest of a staggering 99,195 people just for DUI. The cost for a single arrest is enormous. In an urban Texas county, it costs $120 to arrest and book a person and another $62.97 for each day that an individual is detained. On average and based on 2011 statistics, Texas jails housed over 60,000 inmates a day, with an average of648 prisoners per 100,000 residents. This statistic makes the Texas incarceration rate the fourth highest in the U.S.
Almost all this activity starts with an arrest. With so much to deal with, law enforcement is not looking for a difficult situation when arresting a suspect. A suspect sometimes acts more aggressively during an arrest. The Texas Penal Code criminalizes resisting arrest and punishes those who do.
Resisting Arrest Defined
The Texas Penal Code defines and criminalizes the occurrence of “resisting arrest” when the person being arrested:
Intentionally prevents or obstructs
A peace officer or a person acting at a peace officer’s direction
From effecting an arrest, search, or transportation
By using force against the peace officer or another.
Generally, resisting arrest is a Class A Misdemeanor whose punishment ranges from 0 days to 1 year in jail and a fine up to $4,000. If the defendant uses a deadly weapon while resisting an arrest then the offense is classified as a Third Degree Felony.
The crime of resisting arrest requires the use of force (see the fourth element above) and that force must be directed at or against the officer. This means that acts of turning around or pulling away may not constitute resisting arrest. Shaking off an officer’s grip does not constitute force, and therefore is not resisting arrest. Being stiff or pulling away does not constitute the crime of resisting arrest. The arrested might punch, kick, or push against the arresting officer. Merely failing to cooperate is insufficient. The facts and circumstances of each case will decide whether a defendant used “force” in resisting an arrest.
Under Texas law, if an individual resists arrest, it is irrelevant whether the arrest was lawful. This means that an individual can be completely innocent of the charge for an illegal and wrongful arrest yet can still be charged with resisting arrest. Law enforcement officers often become aggressive with people they suspect of committing a crime, especially when they are dealing with heightened levels of crime. If they suspect an otherwise innocent person of committing a crime, that person is likely to respond by being equally aggressive. That aggressiveness may manifest itself as using force to resist arrest. In such a circumstance, the otherwise innocent but aggressive person can be charged with a crime if that person resists arrest.
If you are facing a criminal charge for resisting arrest, realize that the charge is serious. This applies even if the arrest was unlawful. Contact the criminal defense law firm of Christopher Abel, a board-certified criminal defense attorney.