MILO, Maine — Over the weekend, the Milo Police Department wrote an impassioned Facebook post, asking people to stop resisting arrest.
The Milo police chief says he wrote the post after two of his officers were assaulted on Saturday.
In the first paragraph of the department's post, it says, "No one has the right to resist being placed under arrest. There is a process to follow afterwards if you feel you are being unjustly arrested."
This assertion led to a debate online, with some social media users commenting that people do have the right to arrest.
NEWS CENTER Maine set out to Verify: do Mainers have the right to resist arrest?
Maine Law professor Jeff Thaler says he has both taught and practiced criminal law. Thaler says, while he can't speak to the laws in all states, in Maine, people do not have an inherent right to resist arrest.
"There is a state law that was amended and enacted in 2009 that says people do not have a general right to resist arrest or detention," says Thaler.
While it is illegal to resist arrest, if you do, you could take your case to court.
Thaler says there are two arguments you could use that may lead to an acquittal.
The first argument, says Thaler, "You can argue that you reasonably believed the person arresting you was not a law enforcement officer."
An example of that is if the cop who arrested you was under cover and didn't identify themselves.
The second argument is if you can persuade the judge the arrest or detention itself was unlawful. An example of that is if you can prove the officer had no probable cause to stop you in the first place.
That being said, there is a provision under the law that specifically protects Maine officers from aggression.
The law essentially says, even if you believe a uniformed officer has acted unlawfully in stopping you, you may not use physical force against the officer. You do not have a defense at that point. That is a crime.
The verdict: while a person may be able to fight the charges in court ... you do not have the right to resist arrest in Maine.
According to the American Civil Liberties Union, if you are stopped by police, you have the following rights:
- You have the right to remain silent. For example, you do not have to answer any questions about where you are going, where you are traveling from, what you are doing, or where you live. If you wish to exercise your right to remain silent, say so out loud. (In some states, you may be required to provide your name if asked to identify yourself, and an officer may arrest you for refusing to do so.)
- You do not have to consent to a search of yourself or your belongings, but police may pat down your clothing if they suspect a weapon. Note that refusing consent may not stop the officer from carrying out the search against your will, but making a timely objection before or during the search can help preserve your rights in any later legal proceeding.
- If you are arrested by police, you have the right to a government-appointed lawyer if you cannot afford one.
For the full list from the American Civil Liberties Union, click here.