The crime of assaulting, resisting, or obstructing a police officer is unique because although it is defined by statute1 the Michigan Supreme Court has affirmed the common-law right to resist illegal police conduct, including unlawful arrests and unlawful entries into constitutionally protected areas.2 Practically speaking, that means that the prosecution must also prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the officer’s actions were lawful. For example, if you’re charged with resisting an arrest Grand Traverse County, the Government has to prove not only that you resisted and that the officer was wearing a recognizable police uniform, but that the arrest itself was lawful. That means that if the officer didn’t have probable cause to arrest you in the first place, you may be able to prevail at trial, even if in fact you resisted, assaulted or obstructed that officer.
Many prosecutors, police officers and even some judges have been known to gloss over the common law element of lawfulness of the officer’s actions. This is true even after the seminal decision in People v Moreno. It is very important to enter the preliminary examination in these types of cases armed with the caselaw and a strong argument applying it to the facts.
Over the past half decade the criminal defense attorneys at Mas/Stig-Nielsen have successfully represented numerous clients in Northern Michigan charged with assaulting, resisting, or obstructing a police officer. We have developed a specific legal strategy for dealing with these types of cases. We ensure that we gather as much discoverable information as possible prior to the preliminary examination. This allows us to scrutinize police footage, records, dispatch logs and other records to reconstruct the environment and scene from the time of the arrest to show what was said, how it was said, and exactly what transpired.
In places such as Benzie, Wexford and Grand Traverse counties we have forced the Government’s hand and secured both complete dismissals as well as favorable misdemeanor plea resolutions for clients charged with multiple counts of these two year felony offenses. If you are charged with resisting and obstructing or assaulting a police officer we can help you achieve the best possible outcome in your case.
1 MCL 750.81d.
2 People v Moreno, 491 Mich 38; 814 NW2d 624 (2012)