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Illinois Resisting Arrest Laws

It's a familiar scenario: You watch footage of a tense interaction between a police officer and an individual that the officer is attempting to arrest; the scene is chaotic and hard to watch. Although resisting arrest is usually a minor offense, in some of these circumstances, the consequences can be life-changing, or even fatal. With that in mind, it's important to understand your rights and responsibilities when interacting with law enforcement. However, it's not always clear what behavior actually constitutes resisting arrest. Adding to the confusion is the fact that there is no standard protocol for resisting arrest; each state has its own laws.

In Illinois, you're prohibited from resisting or obstructing a peace officer, fire fighter or correctional institution employee. This means that the law isn't just limited to arrests. Rather, you violate the law when you knowingly interfere with such officials performing their duties. This distinction makes the law very broad and very inclusive.

Resisting a Peace Officer

There are various manifestations of resisting, but a common example involves a person who refuses to consent to an arrest. This can come in the form of hitting the arresting officer, pulling away from the officer during the arrest or running from the officer to avoid arrest.

Obstructing a Peace Officer

Generally if a person gets in the way of the law enforcement official, then it's considered obstructing a peace officer. For instance, if an officer asks you to clear the area of a crime scene and you remain there, then your action could constitute obstruction of a peace officer. Another example is if you provide false information or a false ID to an officer as this could be considered interferance with an investigation, making it more difficult for the police to do their job.

Lawful Arrest

In some states, the underlying arrest must be itself be lawful and you can defend against any subsequent criminal charges on this basis. However, that's not relevant in Illinois where criminal charges can be pursued even if the initial arrest was invalid. Remember that you can be charged based on any impediment that interferes with the officer's duties including making an investigation more difficult. However, while you can't make an unlawful arrest defense, self-defense may be a viable option if an officer used excessive force.

Illinois Resisting Arrest Laws at a Glance

The chart below provides a summary of laws related to resisting arrest laws in Illinois, including links to important code sections.


Illinois Statutes, Chapter 720, Section 5/31-1 (resisting/osbstructing a peace officer)

Penalties and Sentencing

  • Resisting/obstructing a peace officer is a class A misdemeanor which is punishable with up to a 1 year jail sentence, fines or both for a maximum sentence.
  • The law requires that anyone convicted of this crime must incarcerated for at least 48 hours in county jail and perform at least 100 hours of community service.
  • The charge is upgraded to a class 4 felony if a peace officer, firefighter or correctional institution employee is injured due to the actor's resistance or obstruction.
  • A class 4 felony is punishable by 1- 3 years in prison.

Possible Defense(s)

  • Self defense
  • Officer used excessive force
  • Officer did not identify himself/herself

Related Offense(s)

Illinois Statutes, Chapter 720, Section 5/26-1 (disorderly conduct)

Note: State laws are always subject to change through the passage of new legislation, rulings in the higher courts (including federal decisions), ballot initiatives, and other means. While we strive to provide the most current information available, please consult an attorney or conduct your own legal research to verify the state law(s) you are researching.

Illinois Resisting Arrest Laws: Related Resources

Discuss Your Case with an Illinois Criminal Defense Attorney

When you've been arrested, you have a lot of serious issues to consider as you plan your case. If you're facing resisting arrest charges, then it adds additional worries. You could be facing incarceration, fines, and damage to your reputation. With so much at stake, you should consider talking to an experienced Illinois attorney near you to understand all of your rights and options.

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