Resisting or Obstructing a Peace Officer Illinois

What does it mean to resist arrest or obstruct a peace officer?

by Lewis Gainor on February 5, 2010

One of the most common misdemeanor offenses charged in the State of Illinois is resisting or obstructing a peace officer. The majority of individuals arrested for this offense are initially approached by the police for some other type of conduct.

For example, the police might be responding to a domestic violence complaint or a DUI. When the officer to attempts to arrest the person, he is guilty of resisting a peace officer if he tries to pull away, refuses to put his hands behind his back or runs away from the officer.

The resisting statute is somewhat vague in its definition as to what constitutes a violation of the statute. The statute was written that way so that it could cover a large variety of conduct. Generally if a person refuses an officer’s command to do something, that is obstructing a peace officer. If the person makes an affirmative action such as pulling away from the officer, that is resisting a peace officer. Unfortunately, because the statute is so vague, virtually any conduct could be considered resisting arrest if it impedes and officer’s investigation.

If it is later determined that the officer had no reasonable suspicion or probable cause to approach the person, it cannot be used as a defense to the resisting charge. This is because a person is not allowed to resist an unlawful arrest. However, a person could use the defense of self-defense if the facts of the case support that defense, such as where the officer uses excessive force.

Resisting or obstructing a peace officer is a Class A misdemeanor and is punishable by up to one year in jail, a $2,500 fine or both. A sentence of supervision is not available on this charge in the State of Illinois. Therefore, the minimum sentence is a conviction, which is a permanent record that cannot be expunged.

The law requires a period of 48 hours incarceration and no less than 100 hours of community service. In certain circumstances resisting arrest can be a Class 4 felony. The resisting statute is codified at 720 ILCS 5/31-1.

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