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Force in Resisting Arrest


Can you use force to resist an unlawful arrest by a police officer? In Indiana, it depends on the amount of force the police officer uses during the arrest.

If you are being peacefully arrested, you are not entitled to forcibly resist the arrest. Your remedy for an unlawful arrest is to bring a civil action against the police officer and the governmental unit that employs the officer.

However, you may use reasonable force to defend yourself from great bodily harm or death if the arresting officer is using excessive force in making the arrest. A police officer is not allowed to use more force than necessary to make the arrest.

In Wilson v. State, we obtained a reversal on appeal of a Resisting Law Enforcement by Fleeing conviction because the trial court failed to instruct the jury of a person’s right to resist an arrest being made by excessive force. In this case, Wilson was pulled over by two officers because there was an outstanding warrant for his arrest. At trial, a third officer testified that he observed Wilson’s truck begin to accelerate and flee after the two officers shot multiple times at Wilson’s truck. One of the bullets passed through the cab window, and Wilson sustained a head injury. The Court of Appeals held that under this officer’s version, Wilson had little chance of protecting himself from serious bodily injury or death, and he was entitled to protect his life by fleeing the hail of bullets directed at his truck. Accordingly, the trial court erred by not instructing the jury of Wilson’s right to resist this arrest.

If you find yourself having been arrested, you should not resist unless you fear for your life based on the police’s use of force. You should immediately hire experienced criminal defense lawyers such as Vonderheide & Knecht to help you fight the State.

Filed to Appeals, Ask a Lawyer, Criminal Defense

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