Resisting Arrest: Legal Implications and Defense Strategies

Resisting arrest in Georgia is a serious offense involving one knowingly obstructing the lawful duties of a law enforcement officer. A person commits resisting arrest through physical resistance, providing false information, or attempting to flee. Even minor acts of defiance can lead to significant legal consequences.

Understanding the legal implications when one resists arrest is crucial. Those charged may face imprisonment, fines and a permanent criminal record, which can affect employment, housing, and personal relationships. Awareness of what constitutes resisting arrest can help people avoid escalating situations with law enforcement.

If you resist arrest, legal representation is essential. Swingle Levin LLC is a law firm conversant with such charges. We are dedicated to protecting your rights and equipping you to handle the legal challenges of resisting arrest.

Resisting Arrest Under the Georgia Code

In Georgia, resisting arrest is part of the law against obstructing justice or a law enforcement officer, outlined in OCGA 16-10-24. This statute prohibits knowingly and willfully resisting, obstructing, or opposing any police officer or peace officer while performing their duties. Resisting arrest can involve physical force, such as struggling or attempting to flee, and non-physical actions, like providing false information or refusing to comply with lawful commands. The key factor is the intention to obstruct the officer’s lawful arrest duties.

Violating OCGA 16-10-24 can lead to severe consequences. A person convicted of resisting arrest may face misdemeanor or felony charges, depending on the severity of their actions. Misdemeanor charges can result in fines and imprisonment for up to 12 months, while felony charges, often involving physical force or injury to an officer, carry harsher penalties, including longer prison sentences and substantial fines. Understanding these legal implications and the substantial risk involved is crucial for anyone involved during the arrest, as it can prevent escalation and ensure compliance with law enforcement.

Acts That Could Lead to a Resisting Arrest Charge

Resisting arrest can involve various actions that place an individual at odds with law enforcement.

Violent or Physical Acts

Some of the examples of physical acts are:

  1. Pulling Away: One of the most frequent forms of resistance is pulling away from an officer’s grasp. This seemingly minor action is considered an attempt to evade arrest and can quickly escalate the situation.
  2. Fleeing: Running away from an officer during an arrest attempt is a clear act of resistance. This complicates the arrest process and can lead to additional charges, such as obstruction of justice.
  3. Using Force: Any use of unreasonable or excessive force against a police officer, whether pushing, hitting, or any other form of physical aggression, is a severe act of resistance. This can lead to charges of assault on a law enforcement officer, which carries severe penalties.

Suppose the act of resisting arrest leads to violence that causes serious bodily injury to the officer or others. In that case, the charges can be elevated to felonies such as aggravated battery or even attempted murder, depending on the circumstances.

Non-Physical Acts, Threats, or Refusals

Resisting arrest isn’t only about physical actions. Verbal threats toward the officer fall under this crime, too. Even passive resistance, such as failing to comply with orders, can lead to charges. For instance, going limp to avoid being handcuffed often leads to additional charges, which might see you locked up in the local county jail, especially if it’s less than a year.

Potential Penalties

Penalties for resisting arrest can vary. Physical acts can lead to higher charges and more severe penalties. In contrast, non-physical forms of resistance might result in misdemeanor charges. It’s worth noting that the definitions and consequences can differ between states.

Resisting arrest can significantly complicate legal proceedings. Understanding what actions can lead to these charges helps you navigate interactions with the law enforcement more confidently.

Penalties for Resisting Arrest

Resisting arrest is a severe offense in Georgia and can result in substantial penalties. The severity of the penalties largely depends on whether the charge is classified as a misdemeanor or a felony. Here, we will outline the penalties associated with both classifications of resisting arrest in Georgia.

Misdemeanor Resisting Arrest

A misdemeanor resisting arrest charge generally involves non-violent acts of resistance. This could include verbally opposing an officer, slight physical resistance like pulling away, or other minor obstructions.

Penalties for Misdemeanor Resisting Arrest:

  1. Jail Time: A person convicted of misdemeanor resisting arrest can face up to 12 months in county jail.
  2. Fines: Fines can be substantial, often reaching up to $1,000.
  3. Probation: In some cases, the court may impose probation instead of or in addition to jail time, requiring regular check-ins with a probation officer and adherence to certain conditions.
  4. Community Service: The court may also require community service hours as part of the sentence.
  5. Criminal Record: A misdemeanor conviction results in a permanent criminal record, impacting future employment, housing, and other opportunities.

Felony Resisting Arrest

Felony resisting arrest involves more severe acts of resistance, typically involving violence or significant physical obstruction. Examples include physically assaulting an officer, using a weapon, or causing severe injury during the resistance.

Penalties for Felony Resisting Arrest:

  1. Prison Time: A felony conviction can result in a sentence ranging from one to five years, depending on the severity of the act and any prior criminal history.
  2. Higher Fines: Felony charges often come with higher fines, which can exceed $1,000 and may go up to $5,000 or more, depending on the case.
  3. Extended Probation: Following a prison sentence, individuals may also face extended probation periods, which include strict conditions and regular monitoring.
  4. Loss of Rights: Felony convictions carry additional long-term consequences, which include the loss of the right to vote, the right to own firearms, and other civil liberties.
  5. Permanent Criminal Record: A felony will result in a permanent criminal record, which significantly impacts an individual’s life, including employment prospects, housing opportunities, and more.

Common Defenses to Resisting Arrest

Facing a charge involving resisting arrest can be challenging, but there are several common defenses that you can use. These defenses include self-defense, police misconduct, and unlawful arrest. Each defense has its legal basis and specific considerations within the context of Georgia law.


The right to self-defense allows individuals to protect themselves from physical harm. If a police officer acts in a way that uses excessive force during an arrest, you may argue that you were only resisting to protect yourself from bodily injury.

In Georgia, this defense must prove that the police used unreasonable and excessive force. Your response must be proportionate to the threat faced. For instance, pushing or pulling away might be justified if an officer used more force than necessary.

Police Misconduct

This defense claims that the officer engaged in illegal actions, such as using unnecessary force, failing to follow proper procedures, or violating the individual’s rights during the arrest.

To successfully argue police misconduct, there must be clear evidence of the officer’s improper behavior. This can include witness testimony, video recordings, or proof that the officer acted unlawfully.

Unlawful Arrest

An unlawful arrest occurs when an officer arrests somebody without probable cause or a valid warrant. If the arrest was illegal, any resistance to it might be considered justified.

The defense must demonstrate that the officer lacked probable cause or legal authority to make the arrest. For example, if an officer arrests someone based on a mistaken identity or without evidence of a crime, this could be deemed an unlawful arrest.

Need for Legal Representation

Resisting arrest charges are complex, and successfully using these defenses requires a deep understanding of the law and the case’s specifics. Hiring an attorney at Swingle Levin LLC can help:

  • Gather and present evidence to support the defense.
  • Cross-examine police officers and other witnesses.
  • Navigate the legal system and negotiate with the prosecutors.
  • Protect our client’s rights throughout the process.

Defending against resisting arrest charges in Georgia involves understanding and effectively using defenses such as self-defense, police misconduct, and unlawful arrest. Each defense has specific legal requirements and considerations that must be carefully evaluated. Given the complexities and potential consequences of resisting arrest charges, having legal representation is crucial to achieving more favorable outcomes.

Get in Touch With Our Criminal Defense Attorneys for Help With Your Resisting Arrest Charge

Resisting arrest can lead to severe penalties. If you face such charges, seeking legal help is crucial.

At Swingle Levin LLC, our team of criminal defense attorneys understands the complexities of resisting arrest cases. We provide personalized consultation to assess the specifics of your situation.

Here’s how we can help you:

  • Legal Consultation: We evaluate the details of your case and provide legal advice on the next course of action.
  • Defense Strategy: We develop a tailored defense strategy designed to challenge the prosecution’s evidence and protect your rights.
  • Court Representation: We represent you in court, ensuring your voice is heard and your rights are defended.

Resisting arrest charges can be intimidating, but you don’t have to face them alone. Contact us today to schedule a consultation with one of our dedicated criminal defense attorneys. Let us help you navigate this difficult time and work towards a favorable outcome for your case.