Can I resist an arrest that's carried out without probable cause?

What's the proper response to an unlawful arrest?

Question

Can I forcefully resist an arrest that’s carried out without probable cause?

Answer

In the overwhelming majority of situations, people under arrest have no right to use force to resist. But some states allow people to use reasonable force to resist an arrest if the arresting officer lacks probable cause.

The above said, to protect arrestees and police officers alike, judges and legislators everywhere want issues of probable cause to be fought out in court after the fact, not in the streets. Someone who uses force to resist a peaceful arrest, even in a state where reasonable force to resist unlawful arrest is allowed, runs a huge risk.  

For much more on this issue, including the nature of that risk, see Resisting Unlawful Arrest.  

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