What Are the Penalties for Resisting Arrest in Texas?Interactions with law enforcement can be stressful; especially if you are being arrested for a crime you may not have even committed. Not every police officer treats suspects gently, and it is natural to want to argue with or even resist the arresting officer in an overwhelming situation. However, resisting arrest here in Texas can get you charged with further crimes, making an unpleasant situation even worse.

Resisting arrest is a crime under Texas Penal Code § 38.03. The law states:

“A person commits an offense if he intentionally prevents or obstructs a person he knows is a peace officer or a person acting in a peace officer’s presence and at his direction from effecting an arrest, search, or transportation of the actor or another by using force against the peace officer or another.”

What this means is that you cannot intentionally prevent an officer from arresting or carrying out a search through the use of force. This counts if you are attempting to prevent your own arrest or someone else’s. And, if you use a weapon, the penalties and charges will be greatly enhanced.

Penalties for a resisting arrest conviction

Resisting arrest charges can result in a Class A misdemeanor or a third-degree felony, depending on the circumstances. If you had or used a deadly weapon (like a knife or gun) while resisting arrest, you will likely be charged with a felony.

A Class A misdemeanor conviction is punishable by up to one year in county jail and fines up to $4,000. A third-degree felony conviction is punishable by up to 10 years in prison and fines up to $10,000. Remember, these penalties can come on top of the original crime with which you were charged before the charge of resisting arrest. Because of this, and along with collateral consequences that come along with a criminal conviction, it’s crucial to have experienced criminal defense on your side to help minimize or reduce the charges against you.

Justification for resisting arrest

The Texas Penal Code does actually allow for certain situations that justify resisting arrest. They are as follows:

  • “If, before the actor offers any resistance, the peace officer (or person acting at his direction) uses or attempts to use greater force than necessary to make the arrest or search;”
  • “When and to the degree the actor reasonably believes the force is immediately necessary to protect himself against the peace officer’s (or other person’s) use or attempted use of greater force than necessary.”

Further, you cannot be charged with resisting arrest if you exercise your rights to walk away after a police officer informs you that you are not being detained. However, if you are clearly informed that you are being detained, you are likely not free to leave the scene and could be charged with evading or resisting arrest if you do so.

At the Mary Beth Harrell Law Firm, our criminal defense attorneys provide strategic, smart representation. If you have been arrested, get in touch with us with as soon as possible so we can begin protecting your rights. To set up a consultation, call us today at 254-680-4655 or visit our contact page. We proudly serve clients from our offices in Killeen and Copperas Cove.