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Resisting Arrest in Massachusetts

shadowsIn a recent Massachusetts assault case, the defendant was convicted of resisting arrest and assault and battery on a cop. The problems arose when two policemen were dispatched to his house for a 911 hang-up call. When the policemen got there, one thought he heard somebody talking. Through a window, the policeman saw the defendant’s co-defendant and heard a woman ask angrily why he hit her. The co-defendant moved to the back of the house, and the officer went in that direction. He heard a woman crying and a man yelling, trying to get her to be quiet.

The officer came back to the front of the house, where he found the other officer inside, talking to a woman who lived at the house. The co-defendant was clearly drunk and agitated and came up to the officers from the back of the house. He kept yelling at them and insisted they needed a warrant to be in the home.

The officers told him they’d gotten a 911 call and had to check on everyone. The co-defendant and defendant began yelling and stopped the officers from checking on the woman in the back of the house. The defendant told them they couldn’t go back. The officer smelled alcohol on both his breath and his co-defendant’s breath. The co-defendant grabbed one of the officers, and both he and the defendant pushed the cops. The defendant put his hands on one of the officers, who called to get backup. The officers told the defendant and co-defendant they were under arrest, but they didn’t follow orders.

When backup came, the officers pointed to the defendant and said he was in custody. The defendant went running and was chased by the police. The defendant ignored the officers asking him to stop and tried to hit an officer who was trying to arrest him. He struggled with officers on the basement floor. He tried to move toward some dog cages in which were pit bulls. The officers thought he was trying to go to the cage and let the dogs out. They restrained the defendant and put him in custody.

At trial, the defendants claimed they were beaten without justification. They claimed that the defendant didn’t have anything to drink and that the officers beat him up. They also said that the defendant didn’t believe he was under arrest because he hadn’t done anything wrong. The defendant’s medical records were introduced to corroborate the claim.

The defendant claimed a new trial was required because the self-defense instructions weren’t appropriate and shifted the burden of proof onto him. The appellate court disagreed. It noted that the lower court judge repeatedly told the jury that the prosecution bore the burden of establishing beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant didn’t act in self-defense.

The appellate court found that the self-defense instruction didn’t include language that limited how it was used to resisting arrest. However, the judge instructed that with regard to assault and battery, it was the Commonwealth’s burden to show that he didn’t act in self-defense.

The appellate court also found no error about the use of non-deadly force in self-defense. The judge didn’t make a mistake in instructing the jury about self-defense in the face of excessive or unreasonable force and told the jury that if a cop uses excessive or unnecessary force to enter or arrest, the person being arrested is allowed to use proportionate force in self-defense.

For these and other reasons, the judgment was affirmed.

If you are charged with a public order offense, you should contact the Law Office of Patrick J. Murphy. Call us at 617-367-0450 or contact us through this website.

More Blog Posts:

Assault and Battery Causing Serious Injury in Massachusetts, Boston Criminal Defense Lawyer Blog, published January 14, 2015

Receiving Stolen Property in Massachusetts, Boston Criminal Defense Lawyer Blog, published December 15, 2014