The Right to Resist Unlawful Arrest

Resisting unlawful arrest is a concept that has a long history, dating back to the earliest days of legal systems. The idea is that an individual has the right to defend himself against an arrest that is not legally justified. In many legal systems, the concept of resisting unlawful arrest is thus based on the idea of self-defense. The principle is that a person has the right to use reasonable force to defend themselves from an attacker, including an officer who is trying to unlawfully arrest them. The key to understanding this concept is that the force used must be reasonable, and the person being arrested must have a reasonable belief that they are in danger.

Self-defense is a basic human right recognized in many legal systems around the world as a basic human right. The right to self-defense is rooted in the principle that individuals have the inherent right to protect themselves and others from harm. International human rights law, including the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, recognizes the right to life, liberty, and security of person. These rights provide the basis for the right to self-defense. The right to self-defense is also recognized in the laws of many countries and, in some cases, is enshrined in their constitutions.

The right to self-defense is not an unlimited right. The use of force in self-defense must be necessary and proportionate to the threat faced, and should not exceed what is reasonably required to protect oneself or others from harm. In some legal systems, there may also be a duty to retreat or avoid the use of force where possible, before resorting to self-defense. The scope and limitations of the right to self-defense depends on the specific legal system or jurisdiction in question, and may be subject to interpretation by courts or other legal authorities, and there may be further specificity to its use in situations of unlawful arrest.

In the United States, for example, the law recognizes a limited right to resist an unlawful arrest, but the amount of force that can be used in self-defense is generally restricted to non-deadly force. However, some states do not recognize any right to resist an unlawful arrest, regardless of the circumstances. In other countries, the law may be different. Crucially, the concept of resisting unlawful arrest is distinct from obstructing or assaulting an officer in the course of their duties. While an individual may have the right to resist an unlawful arrest, they do not have the right to obstruct or assault an officer who is acting lawfully.

What follows are is court rulings that make up the standing law in light of the principle of stare decisis. Stare decisis (“let the decision stand”) is the legal principle that refers to the practice of courts following and applying the legal decisions of previous cases when deciding similar cases in the future. The principle of stare decisis promotes consistency and predictability in the legal system. When a court decides a case, it sets a precedent that can guide the outcome of similar cases in the future. This allows individuals and businesses to make informed decisions based on past legal rulings, and helps to ensure that the law is applied consistently over time. The principle of stare decisis applies primarily to common law legal systems, such as those used in the United States, the United Kingdom, Canada, and Australia. In these systems, courts are bound by their own previous decisions and by the decisions of higher courts in the same jurisdiction. In other words, a court is generally required to follow the legal precedent established by its own decisions or by the decisions of higher courts, unless there are compelling reasons to depart from that precedent.

“Citizens may resist unlawful arrest to the point of taking an arresting officer’s life if necessary.” Plummer v. State, 136 Ind. 306. This premise was upheld by the Supreme Court of the United States in John Bad Elk v. U.S., 177 U.S. 529. This derives from the English common law, which recognizes the right of an individual to resist with reasonable force an attempt of a police officer to make an unlawful arrest.

“An arrest made with a defective warrant, or one issued without affidavit, or one that fails to allege a crime is within jurisdiction, and one who is being arrested, may resist arrest and break away. lf the arresting officer is killed by one who is so resisting, the killing will be no more than an involuntary manslaughter.” Housh v. People, 75 111. 491; reaffirmed and quoted in State v. Leach, 7 Conn. 452; State v. Gleason, 32 Kan. 245; Ballard v. State, 43 Ohio 349; State v Rousseau, 241 P. 2d 447; State v. Spaulding, 34 Minn. 3621.

“When a person, being without fault, is in a place where he has a right to be, is violently assaulted, he may, without retreating, repel by force, and if, in the reasonable exercise of his right of self defense, his assailant is killed, he is justified.” Runyan v. State, 57 Ind. 80; Miller v. State, 74 Ind. 1.

“These principles apply as well to an officer attempting to make an arrest, who abuses his authority and transcends the bounds thereof by the use of unnecessary force and violence, as they do to a private individual who unlawfully uses such force and violence.” Jones v. State, 26 Tex. App. I; Beaverts v. State, 4 Tex. App. 1 75; Skidmore v. State, 43 Tex. 93, 903.

“An illegal arrest is an assault and battery. The person so attempted to be restrained of his liberty has the same right to use force in defending himself as he would in repelling any other assault and battery.” State v. Robinson, 145 ME. 77, 72 ATL. 26.

“Each person has the right to resist an unlawful arrest. In such a case, the person attempting the arrest stands in the position of a wrongdoer and may be resisted by the use of force, as in self- defense.” State v. Mobley, 240 N.C. 476, 83 S.E. 2d 100.

“One may come to the aid of another being unlawfully arrested, just as he may where one is being assaulted, molested, raped or kidnapped. Thus it is not an offense to liberate one from the unlawful custody of an officer, even though he may have submitted to such custody, without resistance.” Adams v. State, 121 Ga. 16, 48 S.E. 910.

Published by

Andrew Austin

Andrew Austin is on the faculty of Democracy and Justice Studies and Sociology at the University of Wisconsin—Green Bay. He has published numerous articles, essays, and reviews in books, encyclopedia, journals, and newspapers.

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