What is “Resisting Arrest” here in Michigan?

Complying with your arrest seems counter-intuitive, especially when you know you’re innocent. But you have to do it!

Being arrested has got to be one of the scariest experiences a person can go through. Especially if it’s your first time, or you know you haven’t done anything wrong. But refusing to comply with a cop’s orders is always a really bad idea, and the last thing you want is to be dealing with a Resisting and Obstructing charge an officer on top of whatever else they’re accusing you of. So let’s take a look at what that entails, and how to avoid being charged with this serious R&O crime in Michigan!

What exactly does ‘resisting arrest’ mean in Michigan?

In Michigan, the law is not crystal clear about what counts as resisting arrest (which is actually called ‘resisting and obstructing’ or R&O). The state of Michigan criminal code defines it as “battering, assaulting, obstructing, wounding, endangering, or opposing an individual that is known to be performing his or her official duties.” In other words, doing or saying anything that makes it harder for a cop to do their job – and that could mean all kinds of things! Here are a few examples:

  • Running away (or struggling in an effort to get away) while the officer is attempting to arrest you,
  • Refusing to comply with an officer’s verbal commands during an arrest, like “stand still” or “put your hands up”
  • Using violence against the officer during an arrest, including: hitting, kicking, biting, headbutting,
  • Attempting to take the officer’s weapon away from them during an arrest,
  • Making verbal threats of violence against an officer, like threatening to assault them, or kill them,
  • Hiding from an officer, or putting yourself in a place where you know the officer cannot follow without putting themselves in mortal danger,
  • Requiring that the officer carry or drag you in order to put you into the police car after arresting you, and
  • Fighting to escape the vehicle after your arrest, which could include trying to kick out the windows, or kick the door open.

What would the prosecutor have to prove?

A person that is charged with R&O in Michigan, is entitled to understand the specifics of what a prosecutor would have to prove to the jury, in order for the jury to convict the defendant of R&O. The trial judge reads these “elements” to the jury before sending the jury out to decide on their verdict:

First, that the defendant assaulted, battered, wounded, resisted, obstructed, opposed, or endangered [name complainant], who was a [police officer / (state authorized person)]. [“Obstruct” includes the use or threatened use of physical interference or force or a knowing failure to comply with a lawful command.]3 [The defendant must have actually resisted by what (he / she) said or did, but physical violence is not necessary.]3

Second, that the defendant knew or had reason to know that [name complainant] was a [police officer / (state authorized person)] performing [his / her] duties at the time.

Third, that [name complainant] gave the defendant a lawful command, was making a lawful arrest, or was otherwise performing a lawful act.4[Use the following paragraphs as warranted by the charge and proofs.]

Fourth, that the defendant’s act in assaulting, battering, wounding, resisting, obstructing, opposing, or endangering1 a [police officer / (state authorized person)] caused the death of [name complainant].

Or, alternatively,  Fourth, that the defendant’s act in assaulting, battering, wounding, resisting, obstructing, opposing, or endangering1 a [police officer / (state authorized person)] caused [name complainant] to suffer serious impairment of a body function.5

Or alternatively, Fourth, that the defendant’s act in assaulting, battering, wounding, resisting, obstructing, opposing, or endangering1 a [police officer / (state authorized person)] caused a bodily injury requiring medical attention or medical care to [name complainant].

Resisting arrest can be very dangerous for you!

And we’re not just talking about the inherent dangers involved in being charged with a serious crime. Resisting arrest means that you’re getting in the way of a cop doing his job, and because cops do very dangerous work, this puts them on high alert! Also, remember that cops carry guns! Many of them also carry tasers, pepper spray, and batons, so they’re very well armed and have the right to defend themselves using lethal force if necessary. So choosing to fight or threaten a cop can mean very bad results for you!

In the end, you’re not going to win the fight with a police officer. As top Michigan criminal defense lawyers, our very best advice is to never resist or obstruct an officer. Instead, be polite, cooperative and quiet. Shut up and lawyer up but don’t resist or obstruct. We can do your fighting in a courtroom for you without getting shot, sprayed with tear gas or beat up. We’ve been doing that all over Michigan for a quarter of a century. We can fight for you too. Call our main office at 1 866 7NoJail  ( 1 866 766 5245)

Being arrested is scary, but you do have options!


We get it, being arrested is scary, and like most people, you probably want to run away or defend yourself against what seems like an unfair or unjust assault by an officer. But, we can’t say this enough – DON’T DO IT! Instead, call The Kronzek Firm at 866 766 5245 (866 7No Jail) right now and make sure your rights are being protected and you’re not the victim of a legal misunderstanding. Having a skilled defense attorney who can aggressively defend you from overzealous cops and prosecutors can make a world of difference to your future!

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