How Arizona Defines Resisting Arrest Under A.r.s. § 13-2508

Arizona follows the example of numerous other states in defining the act of resisting a police officer’s attempt to arrest you. This is a distinct criminal offense you could be charged with on top of whatever you were being arrested for. In fact, even if you are not ultimately convicted or charged with the crime you were arrested for committing, you can still face serious criminal consequences for impeding an officer.

With all this in mind, it is important to understand exactly how Arizona defines “resisting arrest” under Arizona Revised Statutes § 13-2508 if you want to protect your rights and avoid getting into legal trouble. Here is a basic overview of what state law says, what the terminology in the statute means, and how a seasoned defense lawyer could potentially help you use the language of the law to your advantage.

WHAT DOES A.R.S. § 13-2508 SAY?

According to A.R.S. § 13-2508, someone commits the criminal act of resisting arrest if they do one of the following to prevent someone they know to be a police officer, acting within their official authority, from arresting them or someone else:

  • Use physical force directly against the police officer
  • Threaten to use physical force
  • Create a “substantial risk of causing physical injury” to the police officer by any means other than using or threatening physical force
  • Engage in “passive resistance”

In this context, “passive resistance” means any nonviolent action or failure to act which is meant to “impede, hinder, or delay” a police officer from making an arrest. An example might involve standing still instead of following a police officer’s instructions. What counts as “physical force” or “violent action” can be up to the interpretation of an arresting force. Something as seemingly minor as bumping an officer’s arm while they are handcuffing someone could be taken as violent conduct and prosecuted as such.


Resisting arrest by engaging in passive resistance is considered a Class 1 misdemeanor, which means even a first-time offender could face a maximum 180-day jail sentence, plus thousands of dollars in fines and surcharges, and up to three years of probation. All other forms of resisting arrest are prosecuted even more harshly as non-dangerous Class 6 felonies punishable by a maximum two-year prison term for first-time offenders.

Because this offense is generally treated as “non-dangerous,” courts have the authority to reduce felony resisting arrest charges to misdemeanors at their discretion. A qualified defense attorney can discuss whether this might be possible in your case during a private initial meeting.


Understanding the specific words that Arizona state law uses to define “resisting arrest” is essential to building a strong defense strategy against this type of charge, since every aspect of the offense as defined by A.R.S. § 13-2508 must be present for someone to be convicted of violating this statute. If someone strikes a police officer trying to arrest them because they earnestly did not know the person accosting them was a police officer, they have not met the conditions necessary to be convicted of resisting arrest.

Inconsistencies between video evidence of an arrest and an officer’s testimony about what happened can also be key to fighting back against these charges, as can a lack of evidence in the first place. Further guidance about your unique legal options is available from Grand Canyon Legal Group—call us today to discuss your case.