Every jurisdiction has their own definition of “excessive force.” With the riots and other claims against police in states around the country, the term excessive force is being used much more in the media. It is important to understand what this term means as a Massachusetts resident – and if you are arrested for this crime, what it means for you. Just like civilians, police officers can be charged with using excessive force during an arrest – but defining the fine line between excessive force and necessary force is not as straightforward as it may seem.
Excessive Force Under Massachusetts Law
Excessive force falls under Section 32B (Resisting Arrest). According to the law, if a police officer was attempting to make an arrest that is considered unlawful or they were acting within their specified duties, they are not allowed to resort to the use of unreasonable amounts of excessive force. The police officer must use their own judgement in “good faith” based on the surroundings and circumstances to determine the amount of force necessary.
When it comes to self-defense laws in Massachusetts, a person cannot use more force than necessary to defend themselves. If they do, they may be charged with excessive force. The amount of force can vary depending on the situation and the prosecution’s burden will be to prove that the defendant was not acting in self-defense; therefore, their use of excessive and unreasonable force was not necessary.
Excessive Force and Resisting Arrest
The most common instance where excessive force may be brought up is when someone is resisting arrest. Under Title 1, Chapter 268, Section 32B, a person that commits the crime of resisting arrest or knowingly prevents an officer from acting within their authority can be charged with resisting arrest. Resisting arrest in Massachusetts takes many forms and may include:
- Threatening to use physical violence or using physical violence to thwart an arrest attempt.
- Verbally stating your refusal.
- Using means that create a substantial risk to the police officer if they attempt to arrest you.
Penalties for Resisting Arrest
Resisting arrest is a crime that can be charged to a person the police were attempting to arrest or a person that intervenes with an arrest attempt. While a misdemeanor crime, a person could face up to 2.5 years in jail as well as a fine of up to $500 if convicted.
Did Police Officers Use Excessive Force or Attempt to Charge You With Resisting Arrest? Contact a Criminal Defense Attorney
When a person is charged with resisting arrest, they often resisted due to the unreasonable amount of force used by police officers. In these cases, it is imperative that you contact a criminal defense attorney. The prosecution will attempt to show that police officers’ use of force was justified because you were resisting arrest. At Keegan Law, we have experience handling these types of cases and offer no obligation case evaluations. Contact us with your questions or to schedule an appointment by dialing 617-472-1653 or fill out an online contact form.