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Resisting Arrest: What It Means Under Wisconsin Law

Resisting Arrest: What It Means Under Wisconsin Law

Legislators consider the job that law enforcement officers are tasked with to be difficult enough as it is. For this reason, Wisconsin law criminalizes the act of resisting or obstructing an officer who is attempting to perform their duties.

If you violate this statute, you could be charged with an additional misdemeanor or felony offense, depending on the circumstances. But while the statute criminalizing resisting an officer is broad, not every act of resistance will result in criminal charges. Like any other crime, resisting an officer has certain elements that must be proven beyond a reasonable doubt before you can be convicted. Here is what you need to know about resisting arrest and Wisconsin law.

What Constitutes Resisting Arrest in Wisconsin?

The relevant statute, Section 946.41, prohibits any person from knowingly resisting or obstructing an officer who is doing any action in an official capacity and with lawful authority. The statute further defines obstructing to include providing false information or planting false evidence, among many other potential acts. Broken down, the elements of resisting arrest in Wisconsin include:

You Resisted an Officer

Resistance must mean more than remaining silent or refusing to answer questions. Instead, resistance or obstruction involves some physical act committed against an officer, with the knowledge that such action would make the officer’s job more difficult. Some examples of resistance could include:

  • Running away from the officer when given a command to stop
  • Refusing to put your hands behind your back so you can be cuffed
  • Kicking or moving your arms or legs to make it harder for the officer to arrest you
  • Striking the officer with your hands, feet, or a weapon

Proving that the act was done knowingly can involve showing that the officer was wearing a uniform or identifying themselves to you as law enforcement.

The Officer Was Committing an Action in an Official Capacity

Placing individuals under arrest where the officer legitimately and reasonably believes they possess probable cause to do so is a clear example of an action committed in an official capacity.

However, this element may not be met if an off-duty police officer attempts to make an official arrest of you when they have not seen you commit any crime.

You Refused to Comply With an Attempt to Take You Into Custody

There is a separate and distinct crime that encompasses refusing to comply with an officer’s attempt to take you into custody, found in Section 946.415. This happens when you refuse to comply with the commands and efforts of an officer trying to take you into custody, and you make a threat to use a dangerous weapon against the officer.

Get Help From a Skilled Wisconsin Criminal Defense Lawyer

Whether you resisted arrest or are facing other criminal charges in Wisconsin, it is vital to seek legal guidance right away. Charges are not convictions until your case is proven beyond a reasonable doubt. A skilled criminal defense attorney can challenge the prosecution’s case against you and protect your rights.

At Ahmad and Nolan Defense, we focus exclusively on criminal defense and proudly serve Milwaukee and the State of Wisconsin. Contact our team at (414) 348-9081 to discuss your case today.