Mississippi Crime of the Week – Resisting Arrest

Mississippi Code Annotated § 97-9-73 makes it against the law to “obstruct or resist by force, or violence, or threats, or in any other manner, his lawful arrest or the lawful arrest of another person by any state, local or federal law enforcement officer . . . .”  Resisting arrest is a misdemeanor crime in Mississippi, and can be punished by a fine of up to $500.00 and imprisonment of up to six months in the county jail.

I’ve never seen this crime charged by itself.  Resisting arrest is usually an add-on charge, resulting from a traffic stop or other action by law enforcement that unfortunately escalates and gets out of hand.  In my experience the threshold for being accused of resisting arrest is very low.  In essence, when you resist arrest, by either “mouthing off,” pulling away while being cuffed, or you “bow up” when an officer approaches you, you are challenging an officer’s authority, and they generally don’t like that.   This results in a fact-intensive “he said-she said” type of trial, and your lawyer needs to be firm and aggressive when questioning the arresting officer to ensure that things don’t get “embellished,” with the truth being sacrificed as a result.

Now I am going to tell you about a legal concept that could get you into trouble – in Mississippi you have an absolute right to resist an unlawful arrest.  An unlawful arrest may occur because the officer does not have probable cause to arrest you for anything, does not have a warrant when he needs one, or uses unlawful excessive force against you. 

PLEASE BE ADVISED – the bad thing is that you are probably not a Supreme Court Justice, and so you are not in a position to make a legal decision on the lawfulness of the arrest “on the fly” while you decide to resist or not.  That decision will be made weeks or months after the incident by a judge that was not there, and can only go on what he or she hears and perceives in their courtroom.  If you are put in this unfortunate situation, try to be as respectful as possible, but remember that you are not required to say anything after you have identified yourself, and you are not required to put up with abuse by law enforcement.

Because these cases depend so heavily on the facts, and every case is different, they tend to be very defensible.  If you have been charged with resisting arrest, and you believe you were well within your rights and didn’t commit this crime, give me a call at 601-991-1099, or send an email to clarence@guthriefirm.com.  I am here to help.