Michigan Resisting Arrest Laws

Representing Clients In Macomb, Washtenaw, Wayne, Genesee County, and all over the State of Michigan.

Overview of MCL 750.81d: Resisting and Obstructing

Michigan law MCL 750.81d, commonly known as “R and O” or “Resisting and Obstructing,” is a critical statute addressing actions against law enforcement. This felony charge carries a potential sentence of up to 2 years in prison, a fine of $2,000, or both.

What is Resisting and Obstructing a Police Officer?

The formal title of this offense is “Assaulting, Battering, Resisting, Obstructing, Opposing Person Performing Duty.”

Legal Requirements for Conviction

To secure a conviction for Resisting and Obstructing, the prosecution must establish certain elements beyond a reasonable doubt:

  • Action Against a Police Officer: This includes assaulting, battering, wounding, endangering, obstructing, opposing, or resisting a Police Officer. Obstruction can occur through physical force, a threat of force, or failing to comply with lawful commands.
  • Knowledge of Law Enforcement Status: The accused must have known, or had reason to know, that the individual was a Police Officer performing their duties.

(Referenced: Michigan Jury Instructions 13.1)

Scope of Law Enforcement

This law extends beyond police officers. It applies to various law enforcement and emergency personnel, including DNR officers, federal agents, firefighters, EMTs, and more.

Misdemeanor vs. Felony Charges

Resisting and Obstructing can be charged as a misdemeanor under local ordinances, leading to a maximum of 1 year in jail. Under state law, it’s a felony punishable by up to 2 years in prison. Charges depend on whether they are filed by the State of Michigan or a local municipality.

Attempting to Resist and Obstruct

The crime of attempting to resist and obstruct is a misdemeanor in Michigan, with a maximum penalty of 1 year in jail. An “attempt” involves taking action towards committing the crime but being interrupted before its completion.

Understanding Police Use of Force and Resisting Arrest

When is Police Use of Force Justified?

A police officer’s use of force is constrained to what is reasonably necessary to effect an arrest or prevent a suspect from escaping. The use of force that jeopardizes public safety is not permissible. Nevertheless, there are circumstances where police may respond with force, such as returning fire in a public shooting scenario to neutralize a threat. Conversely, police are prohibited from initiating gunfire that could endanger the public, especially if the suspect poses no immediate threat to others.

How to Respond to Excessive Force by Police

While encountering excessive force by an officer, it’s generally advised not to resist arrest, as this could result in additional criminal charges. However, if you believe your life is at risk due to unwarranted excessive force, there might be a legal defense based on self-protection.


Exercising Your Rights

It’s important to recognize that exercising legal rights, such as remaining silent or resisting an unlawful arrest, should not lead to a Resisting and Obstructing charge. However, interactions with law enforcement can be complex, and asserting your rights may sometimes be misconstrued as resistance.

Is Jail Time Inevitable?

No, jail time is not a given. The outcome depends on the severity of the alleged actions, the defenses raised, and the effectiveness of your criminal defense lawyer.