Role of Self-Defense When Resisting Arrest in Stamford
Resisting arrest is a charge often seen in a variety of cases in Stamford, Connecticut. Knowing the most effective way to dispel these charges can be difficult, but a skilled attorney who has handled cases like this before can help.
How Does State Law Define Resisting Arrest?
Under Connecticut General Statutes §53a-167a, resisting arrest involves someone intentionally and knowingly doing something that either 1) hinders a police officer’s ability to lawfully perform official duties and/or 2) puts that officer in reasonable fear of harm.
This definition can be applied to many different actions, not all of which are aggressive—for example, both an attempt to run away from police pursuit and a failure to promptly following an officer’s command could be construed as resisting arrest to the same degree of severity.
What Are the Elements of Resisting Arrest?
The most crucial aspects of this statute for defendants to understand are the three criteria it uses to define the criminal offense of resisting arrest. All the following conditions must be proven by the prosecution for a resisting arrest charge to end in conviction:
- The defendant knew or should have known the person addressing them was an officer of the law
- The officer in question was trying to lawfully perform a duty related to their role
- The defendant did something to intentionally obstruct the officer from performing that duty
Accordingly, if an officer is trying to do something unlawful to a Stamford resident, that resident should have the right to defend themselves without being subject to a resisting arrest charge. Defending yourself against the police is not in and of itself a crime! However, self-defense is not a valid defense in all situations.
When Could Self-Defense Against an Arrest Be Justified?
A person being arrested in Connecticut is legally allowed to defend themselves if they are honestly unaware they are being detained by a police officer, or if the police officer uses excessive and illegal force while arresting them. By either failing to identify themselves properly or using too much force, the arresting officer would have violated the arrested party’s civil rights and put them at risk of harm, meaning they could be justified in defending their own physical safety.
However, there are several crucial restrictions on when self-defense against arrest is appropriate. First, self-defense is not a valid excuse for resisting arrest in Stamford unless the police officer is the one who acts violently first. In the same vein, a person can only defend themselves from unlawful force by a police officer until the police officer stops using excessive force—the moment the officer stops acting illegally, the person they are arresting cannot continue retaliating against or attacking the officer.
Finally, a police officer’s use of excessive force will be considered justified if it was motivated by the actions of the person they are arresting.
Talk to a Stamford Attorney About Self-Defense in Relation to Resisting Arrest
Under certain circumstances, it can be a valid defense against resisting arrest charges to argue that you were only trying to protect yourself from a police officer’s dangerous and illegal conduct. Check out our certified client reviews by following this link. Call today to speak with a legal professional about the role of self-defense when resisting arrest in Stamford.