Understanding the Law and Resisting Arrest

Recently Joe Blaettler of ECPINJ served as an expert witness in a criminal trial regarding the issue of resisting arrest. First and foremost, every person needs to understand that, regardless of the circumstances, they do not have a right to resist an officer’s attempt to arrest them. If you believe the arrest is illegal or not supported by probable cause, simply submit to the arrest and then seek redress via the court system. DO NOT RESIST ARREST. In the state of New Jersey, it is a crime to purposely prevent a law enforcement officer from effecting an arrest.

Prior to effecting an arrest, if the circumstances allow, the officer should advise the person he or she is going to be placed under arrest. In most instances, the person will comply and no force will be needed. The best practices for any officer making an arrest is to make his or her intentions clear: Clearly advise the person that they are going to be placed under arrest and that they must comply. Ask the person to turn around and place their hands behind their back. When cuffing the person, ensure the cuffs are not placed tightly on the person’s wrist and be sure to double lock the cuffs. When circumstances allow, it is always best to have two officers on scene prior to making an arrest.

A best practice for making an arrest (when circumstances allow) is to:

1. Ask: I am asking you to please cooperate and turn around so I can place you under arrest. If the person refuses:

2. Advise: I am advising you that you are under arrest and need to cooperate. If the person continues to refuse:

3. Order: I am ordering you to turn around and place your hands behind your back.

arrestIf the parties refuse, then the officer is justified is using reasonable force to effect the arrest. Most importantly, remember to state in your report that you first: Asked, Advised, and then Ordered the person that they were under arrest prior to making any physical contact with them.