If you are arrested unlawfully, are you allowed to "resist" the arrest?

The short answer is: No - you cannot resist an unlawful arrest in Massachusetts. Under Massachusetts General Laws an "unlawful arrest" is not a defense to a charge of resisting arrest. As such, it is not uncommon for individuals to face trial for "resisting arrest" even when the underlying charge (and the original basis for the arrest) fails to survive to trial.

Consider the following situation stemming from a recent case handled by the Longton Law Office. Our client was attending a public board meeting in his town, as an elected official. The Chairman of the Town Board objected to our client participating in the meeting and soon threatened to have him removed. The police were called and arrived within minutes. Though the officers did not observe our client engaging in any disorderly or disturbing behavior, the officers nonetheless physically removed him from the chair and attempted to escort him from the room. When our client reportedly became "tense" during the removal process, he was handcuffed and taken to the police station, where he learned that he was being charged with disturbing the peace and two counts of resisting arrest.

Early on in the case, the Judge granted Attorney Longton's motion to dismiss the disturbing the peace charge - finding that the officers lacked probable cause to arrest him for disturbing the peace. The resisting arrest charges however remained until trial. It is well settled under Massachsuetts law that as long as the officers acted in good faith and under the "color of authority" the resisting arrest charges can survive.

The client in this case was ultimately acquitted at trial - as the judge found him "not guilty" on both counts of resisting arrest. Individuals should keep this type of situation in mind with any police encounter. Always remain polite, respectful, and invoke your rights - to an attorney and to remain silent. And most importantly, call an experienced criminal defense lawyer for expert legal advice. You can reach Attorney Nicole Longton at 508-793-2000.