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Do I Have the Legal Right to Defend Myself Against a Police Officer?

You have the right to defend yourself against physical attacks, but resisting arrest is a crime, so if a police officer threatens or bullies you, the place to defend yourself is in the courtroom, not with your fists.

What do you do if a police officer threatens violence against you? Can you fight back? What if you have reasonable fear that the officer will kill you or cause permanent injury? Does the right to self-defense apply when the aggressor is a law-enforcement officer? The short answer is that, from a legal perspective, you should never use physical violence against a police officer, even if the officer is threatening or antagonizing you. Even if you are arrested unjustly, the important thing is to stay alive; there will always be a chance to fight the charges. When it is your word against the officer’s about who attacked whom, contact an Atlanta obstruction of justice defense lawyer.

Self-Defense in Violent Crime Cases

In most violent crime cases, everything from simple assault to murder, the jury must find the defendant not guilty if the defendant can convince them that he or she acted in self-defense. For the self-defense argument to work, you must establish the following facts:

  • The victim was physically attacking you, attempting to attack you physically, or making credible threats of violence against you.
  • Your fear that you were in imminent danger was credible. (If you are twice the victim’s size and the victim did not have a weapon, you will have a hard time proving reasonable fear.)
  • You used a reasonable level of force, only enough to deescalate the situation so you could avoid serious injury.

When Does Self-Defense Become Resisting Arrest?

You have the right to defend yourself if you are being attacked, even if the person attacking you is a police officer. Despite this, resisting arrest is a crime, and police officers are allowed to use force against defendants who resist arrest. We have all seen the horrific videos of police brutality and excessive force and seen how rarely the officers involved have faced criminal penalties after injuring or even killing civilians. If the officer is tried for using excessive violence (many instances of police brutality have not resulted in criminal charges), he or she usually argues that the defendant was resisting arrest, and then the officer gets acquitted.

If a police officer antagonizes you, the most important thing is to get out of the situation alive. If you get charged with resisting arrest or with any other offense, at least you will be alive to fight the charges. A criminal defense lawyer can help you clear your name if you have been unjustly arrested.

An Atlanta Criminal Defense-Lawyer Can Help You if You Acted in Self-Defense

The need for reform of the criminal justice system and of policing methods is obvious. If you are currently facing charges, the first step is to consult a criminal defense lawyer about your own case. Contact Ghanayem and Rayasam in Atlanta, Georgia about your charges of resisting arrest.