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What you need to know about resisting an arrest in Pennsylvania

For many of our clients being arrested represents the worst day of their lives.   Police contact on the street or even in one’s home is a stressful situation that has the potential to get dangerous very quickly.  If you use physical force against the police to try and prevent your arrest you could be charged with Resisting Arrest on top of what you were already being arrested for.


To convict an individual of Resisting Arrest the Commonwealth would need to prove the following beyond a reasonable doubt:

  1. The arrestee intends to prevent a public servant (police officer) from effectuating a lawful arrest or discharging any other duty; &
  2. The arrestee creates a substantial risk of bodily injury to the public servant or anyone else or employs means justifying or requiring substantial force to overcome the resistance.

In Pennsylvania, Resisting Arrest is a misdemeanor of the second degree punishable by up to two (2) years in prison and/ or a $5,000.00 fine.


If you are charged with resisting arrest, you may be able to assert, as a defense, that your actions were lawful because:

1. You were acting in self-defense.

Pennsylvania law allows you to protect yourself against unreasonable violence on the part of the police.  However, you may not respond with resistance toward the arresting officer(s) unless the officer initiated the violence.

2. The arrest was unlawful.

If an arrest is not supported by the law, such as when the arresting officer(s) cannot justify the arrest, you may resist the unlawful arrest with reasonable force.

Resisting Arrest in Pennsylvania is a serious criminal offense that prosecutors and police officers prioritize before the Court.  To confront a charge of Resisting Arrest you need experienced counsel to help protect your liberty and future.  The attorneys of OWM Law stand ready to assist you with all your criminal defense needs.


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