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Jury rejects man's criminal defense to resisting arrest charge

Resisting arrest is a somewhat common charge that comes up in traffic violations and driver impairment cases in Michigan. When an officer makes a traffic stop for erratic or suspicious driving patterns, resisting arrest is the last thing on the mind of the suspect or the police. However, things are known to typically escalate and emotions are sometimes unleashed and difficult to control. Criminal defense counsel must then step in and confront the propriety of the resisting arrest charge.

An 84-year-old man learned that principle when Michigan State Police troopers pulled him over several months ago for failing to use a signal when turning. The troopers say the man, the owner of a nearby bar, got out of his car and approached their car with a raised fist. They tackled him to the ground, sending him to the hospital with a broken arm and bloodied nose.

It was St. Patrick's Day, and the troopers testified that they had been staking out the man's bar for drunk drivers. Instead, they stopped the allegedly belligerent elderly owner and put his rage to a painfully premature end. It is fairly common for there to be resisting arrest charges in traffic stops, especially where alcoholic or drug impairment is involved.

Criminal defense counsel must sometimes cross-examine the police quite aggressively regarding the propriety of the resisting arrest charges. The police tend to react quickly and sometimes excessively to threatening talk or gestures raised by suspected motorists. Thus, the infliction of a broken leg may have been caused by overreaction. Counsel's effort to get that idea across failed to convince a jury, which found the accused guilty of resisting arrest. The sentencing judge recently entered a sentence to time served and fines and costs of $1,800, which may have eased some of the sting of these events on the bar owner.

Source: freep.com, "84-year-old Michigan man avoids jail for resisting arrest", Aug. 24, 2017

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