Arizona law defines resisting arrest as intentionally preventing an arrest in one of these ways: using or threatening physical force; creating a substantial risk of physical injury; or, passively resisting arrest. A passive resist is a nonviolent physical act, or failure to act, that’s intended to impede, hinder, or delay an arrest. For instance, a refusal to put your hands behind your back or get out of your car may be considered passive resistance. While the resisting arrest statute is unclear, that can sometimes work to a defendant’s advantage. The statute’s broad language leaves wiggle room for argument and interpretation by a judge or jury.
Common examples of resisting arrest include pulling away, stepping away, flailing or stiffening arms, refusing to exit a vehicle, going limp, taking a fighting stance, and threatening violence.
The prosecutor must prove all the following in a resisting arrest prosecution: an officer was arresting you in the officer’s official capacity; you had reason to know law enforcement was arresting you; and, you intentionally tried to prevent arrest.
Does it matter if an arrest was legally justified?
No, regardless of your innocence to an allegation, you cannot resist arrest. There are several policy reasons for this—most notably, safety.