We see resisting arrest charges with increasing frequency in Rhode Island. Generally, you do not have the right to resist arrest. Our best advise for you is to simply obey the commands of police officers (even if you think they have no right to make such a command). The rare instance where you may “resist” arrest is when an officer uses excessive force on you that can cause “great bodily harm.” In that instance, you have a right to defend yourself.
But when is an officer using excessive force? An officer’s exercise of force is deemed excessive when it is likely to result in unjustifiable serious bodily injury. The standard used to determine what level of force is appropriate is that of the “reasonable person in the circumstances.” That is, if the “reasonable person” would assess the level of force to be excessive in light of the circumstances, it is excessive force. This is typically a question for the jury at trial.
If you are justified in resisting arrest, there is of course a limit on the force that you can use. In Rhode Island, assuming that you’re entitled to resist arrest from an officer (again, this is very rare), you may only use the amount of force necessary to defend yourself.
Please note, it’s extremely rare that someone properly uses force in resisting arrest. Even if you were justified in using force, you’ll need an experienced criminal defense attorney to convince a judge and/or jury that you had the right to use force and to protect your rights. Call our experienced criminal defense attorneys today!