Paul D. Cramm

What Happens If I Resist A Lawful Arrest By Arizona Law Enforcement?

To understand what constitutes as resisting arrest charge, according to Arizona laws, it’s first important to draw a distinction between a detention and an arrest. In movies and TV shows, as soon as someone has handcuffs on them, they are portrayed as under arrest, but this isn’t always the case. Law enforcement officials can utilize a number of means, including handcuffs, to detain a suspect in a criminal matter without placing that person under arrest.

Definition of An Arrest vs Detainment

A detainment simply means that law enforcement is using coercive means to keep someone at a scene or in custody. The action of detention truly begins when someone is not free to be on their way. A detention can take place through a verbal command, but it can also be carried out when a law enforcement official physically prevents a person from freely leaving the scene. When you are pulled over for a traffic stop, this is an example of a lawful detainment. You haven’t been arrested, meaning you haven’t been taken into physical custody, but you are not free to go until the attending law enforcement official has determined whether probable cause for an arrest exists.

When you are arrested, however, your right to leave the scene is revoked based on probable cause. This means that you are now in the physical custody of law enforcement and are officially suspected of committing a crime. You have not been charged yet, as this takes place when the district attorney’s office is briefed as to the evidence gathered by law enforcement. In some states, a person under arrest can only be held in custody for a specific amount of time without being charged before the law requires the person to be released.

In Arizona, this time limit is 48 hours. Furthermore, an arrest without a formal charge can still go on your criminal record in some cases, even if you have been charged and the charges are dropped. A criminal defense attorney may be able to have arrest records expunged.

When Stopped by Police

  • Comply with legal orders
  • Ask for clarification if you believe you are being detained
  • Remain silent if you wish
  • Document encounters with law enforcement for future reference

 Do You Have to Answer Police Questions?

In the United States, you have the right to remain silent under any type of questioning from a law enforcement official. This is guaranteed under the Fifth Amendment to the Constitution and applies to all citizens. By exercising this right, you are asserting that you do not wish to speak in order to prevent self-incrimination. You can exercise this right at any time during questioning by law enforcement, including during a detainment or while under arrest.

If arrested, the arresting law enforcement official is required to provide you with your Miranda rights. Once again, this is likely something you’ve seen or heard on TV or in a movie, and it is where you are told that you have the right to remain silent. In the vast majority of cases, it is recommended that you exercise this privilege from the moment you are told that you are under arrest.

You may be tempted to speak to law enforcement in an attempt to prove that you are not guilty, but doing so can possibly complicate your situation. Each word that you speak from the moment you are placed under arrest can be submitted as evidence in court, and simple mistakes or misrepresentations of the situation can imply an admission of guilt. If you wish to speak to law enforcement, especially under interrogation, it’s best to have your criminal defense attorney present and to allow him or her to answer questions on your behalf.

The Right to Remain Silent

  • Silence is not an admission of guilt
  • You are guaranteed the right against self-incrimination
  • Request the presence of your attorney
  • Do not resist if notified that you are under arrest

 What Happens If You Resist a Lawful Arrest?

Once again, being placed under arrest means that you are now in the physical and legal custody of law enforcement. It also means you are not free to be on your way. As a result, resisting an arrest can come with serious consequences because you are attempting to subvert the law. People attempt to resist arrest for a variety of reasons, including panic or because they feel that the arrest is unlawful. Regardless of the reason, it is highly recommended that you cooperate with all lawful commands and never resist an arrest. Resisting can lead to great bodily harm, and you could even end up being shot or killed.

Keep in mind that you are going to be outnumbered by law enforcement, both in terms of manpower and in terms of force. Law enforcement have been trained and provided with equipment that is meant to be used in order to force arrested individuals to comply or to defend oneself if you become combative. Also, running from law enforcement as a means of resisting simply prolongs the inevitable. You will either be chased or found if hidden, and if you somehow do escape the scene, a warrant will be issued for your arrest and extra charges may be added.

All of this can mean stiffer penalties in court after you are eventually found, and with all of the technology available to law enforcement these days, it’s just a matter of time before you will be tracked down. The bottom line? It’s not worth the risk, so comply with lawful commands and wait for your attorney before speaking.

Protect Your Rights

  • An arrest doesn’t signify guilt
  • Law enforcement must prove its case
  • Allow your attorney to act as your representative
  • Resisting an arrest may carry additional charges

Do Police Arrest Innocent People?

Police arrest people that might have all the thought in the world that they are innocent, but this shouldn’t be a reason to resist arrest. Even if you’re innocent, resisting just makes the situation worse and can add charges to your case that wouldn’t have been there in the first place. It’s better to allow your criminal defense attorney to present the evidence needed to assert your innocence in court. Your attorney can ensure that you are treated fairly under the law and represent your best interests. Allow the justice system to work the way that it’s intended as you are innocent until proven guilty, even if you have been arrested.

Remember that an arrest simply means that a member of law enforcement believes that he or she has the facts needed to prove your guilt, but this does not actually mean you are guilty of anything.

Contact the Arizona Criminal Defense Firm of David Cantor

Arizona Criminal Law Specialist David Cantor and his team of legal defense attorneys provide aggressive defense strategies to people who have been arrested for a number of suspected crimes. The attorneys at DM Cantor work tirelessly to protect the rights of their clients by ensuring that police are held accountable for their actions, and David Cantor can help you fight your charges in court.

Arizona residents rely on the aggressive team at the Office of David Cantor when the truth needs to come out, and you can receive a consultation right now by calling 602-307-0808 or visiting

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About the Author

This practice has been exclusively devoted to all levels of criminal defense from misdemeanor offenses in municipal court to felony matters in the Federal courts of Kansas and the Western District of Missouri. Paul D. Cramm is qualified to provide defense in Capital and Death Penalty cases.