What began as peaceful protests around the country have, in some cases, spiraled into riots and looting. There are competing narratives about who has been causing this violence, with plenty of videos showing both police officers and protestors involved.
Along with these competing narratives, there have been conflicting news stories regarding who is getting arrested and for what reasons. One thing that is for certain, though, is that a great many charges have been handed out for resisting arrest.
Below, we’re going to clarify exactly what the term resisting arrest means and what the possible ramifications are for this crime. We’ll also look at how you can avoid a charge of resisting arrest if you are unlucky enough to come under police attention.
What Does Colorado Law Say About Resisting Arrest?
The term resisting arrest can seem rather ambiguous. After all, can’t a wide variety of actions be considered resisting arrest? Well, according to Colorado law, not really.
In the Colorado Revised Statutes, resisting arrest has the following definition:
“A person commits resisting arrest if he knowingly prevents or attempts to prevent a peace officer, acting under color of his official authority, from effecting an arrest of the actor or another, by:
(a) Using or threatening to use physical force or violence against the peace officer or another; or
(b) Using any other means which creates a substantial risk of causing bodily injury to the peace officer or another.”
According to this definition, resisting arrest is very specific and applicable only to a very narrow set of actions. Unlike what popular culture would have you believe, resisting arrest is not a catch all justification for police to arrest people. Instead, it is a specific crime consisting of a specific set of actions… when police use it accurately and appropriately.
Resisting Arrest and How It Applies to Riots and Protests in Colorado
The First Amendment of the United States Constitution guarantees the right of every citizen to protest. This, however, does not protect the right of people to loot and vandalize and riot. In fact, according to federal prosecutors in Colorado, these actions are completely counter to peaceful protests.
For this reason, police in the state are being encouraged to actively find and arrest those who are attempting to subvert the peaceful protests through violence. In Colorado Springs, over 40 individuals were arrested for committing crimes that could subvert peaceful protests.
If you find yourself on the wrong side of police attention, the worst thing you can do is to act in ways that could lead to a resisting arrest charge. Why? Because you’re still going to face the original charge. The difference is that you will have to deal with resisting arrest on top of it. Despite this fact, many individuals are doing just that — attempting to fight the police to avoid being arrested.
In the event that you or someone you love is arrested for a charge you feel is unjust, resisting arrest is not the way to solve it. The better course of action is to fight the charge in court. For people who feel they have been arrested unjustly, the best thing to do is to contact an experienced criminal defense attorney who can fight for your rights.
What Are the Penalties for Resisting Arrest in Colorado?
In the event that you are charged with resisting arrest, the punishment can be severe. Resisting arrest in the state of Colorado is classified as a Class 2 Misdemeanor. The penalty for a Class 2 Misdemeanor is between three and 12 months in a state jail and a fine of between $250 and $1,000.
It is important to also remember that these charges will be in addition to the original charge you are being arrested for. Depending on what that charge is, you could be facing years in jail or prison and steep fines.
Resisting arrest should never be your solution to fighting what you believe is an unjust arrest. It just makes things worse. Instead, fight your battle in the legal system by building the strongest possible case.
About the Author:
Kimberly Diego is a criminal defense attorney in Denver practicing at The Law Office of Kimberly Diego. She obtained her undergraduate degree from Georgetown University and her law degree at the University of Colorado. She was named one of Super Lawyers’ “Rising Stars of 2012 & 2019” and a “Top 100 Trial Lawyers in Colorado” for 2012-2020 by The National Trial Lawyers. Both honors are limited to a small percentage of practicing attorneys in each state. Additionally, Expertise names her to its lists of the 25 Best Denver DUI Lawyers and 21 Best Denver Criminal Defense Lawyers, both in 2020. Ms. Diego has also been recognized for her work in domestic violence cases.