Libertarian Ramblings

Posts Tagged ‘resisting arrest’

Resisting arrest

Posted by gravisman on December 19, 2008

For a few years now I’ve been thinking a lot about the idea of resisting arrest as a crime. On a regular basis I find myself coming across stories of individuals who are wrongly attacked by police officers, and despite being cleared of any wrong doing prior to the attack, are still charged with resisting arrest. Since this is a felony, people can do jail time and have their lives severely thrown off track by something clearly caused by police error.

While many stories of this nature have come across my desk, the one that gets me thinking today this one. It’s beyond me that anyone could find it logical to call resisting a kidnapping at the hands of men who do not identify themselves a crime. That’s exactly what Galveston police are doing, though, charging a girl with resisting arrest for fighting back against unmarked police officers who jumped out of a van at her.

I would actually consider this a mild case, and one where the girl will probably get off. There are many more horrific stories. Another that comes to mind is this¬†one where people are arrested seemingly because they resisted arrest (don’t ask me to explain that) and because they attempted to run away from a situation.

I see two problems in logic here. First, every person has the right to defend his or her self against unwarranted aggression. Second, we all have the right to flee a threatening situation.

Consider the following situation: you walk down the sidewalk and men jump out of a car and tackle a man walking near you. Scared for what might happen, you start running. Upon seeing you run, the men start chasing you. You throw things back at them as you run, and flail at them when they finally catch you and tackle you. You soon discover they are police officers. It doesn’t take long before everyone figures out that you were not at all involved with the man the police wanted – you are innocent. Good to go, right? Wrong. You will still be charged with resisting arrest. The only reason you were ever arrested in the first place is because you were scared and ran.

I propose two legislative changes to rebalance the power of the people and restore basic liberty. The first is to mandate that simply running or attempting to flee an area should not be considered probable cause for an arrest. The second is that resisting arrest should not punishable unless a suspect is convicted of another crime. That is, if you were falsely arrested in the first place, you cannot be charged with resisting arrest. We can still have our go at the real criminals who are rightly arrested – we just don’t need to be ruining the lives of people who are proven innocent.

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