Can Arizona Law Enforcement Use Force to Arrest Me?
When it comes to an arrest, one of the most common themes in cop shows and movies is the use of force. The police are often portrayed as roughing up a suspect or even shooting at the “bad guys”, but how accurate and realistic is this portrayal? More importantly, how does the use of force apply to a real-world arrest in Arizona? The truth may surprise you!
What is the Real Role of Arizona Law Enforcement?
Simply put, the role of law enforcement in society is to ensure that people follow the law. This role is housed under the umbrella of public safety, but at the end of the day, police are trained to enforce laws as they are written. As such, public safety is often secondary to the role. While police have the ability to use a certain amount of discretion, they are supposed to be impartial and only focus on the letter of the law in enforcement. Unfortunately, enforcement sometimes requires physical coercion in order to get a someone to comply with commands.
Use-of-Force Basics in Policing
- The police follow the letter of the law
- Force can be used to during an arrest
- Police have limited discretion
- Public safety is a secondary part of the role of law enforcement
Can the Police Use Reasonable Force in an Arrest?
Reasonable force is understood to mean any amount of force that a reasonable person would deem necessary to remedy a situation in the safest manner. This pertains to the officer’s safety as well as the safety of others, but it may also pertain to the protection of property. Once again, the amount of force has to be reasonable, so a police officer can’t shoot someone who is about to litter because this would be considered unreasonable.
Excessive force is another consideration in how police interact with the public during an arrest. Excessive force occurs when a law enforcement official needs to use force to address a situation, but he or she uses force that does not correspond to the perceived threat. In such situations, there is no argument that force needs to be used, but if a lesser amount of force can be used to handle the situation and the officer exceeds this amount, it will probably be classified as the use of excessive force.
How Law Enforcement Judges the Use of Force
- Force must be used in a reasonable manner
- Cooperation should eliminate the need of force
- Police must meet force with force
- Excessive force is illegal
What is the Circle of Force?
The circle of force refers to the use of force as it equates to the escalation level of a threat. Previously, criminal justice theory considered the use of force to be a ladder plot whereby an officer responded to force starting with verbal commands and moved up through other methods of force to deadly force. This approach doesn’t make sense, however, because a threat could change quickly, requiring a greater or lesser use of force.
For example, if someone is stopped for questioning and brandishes a handgun, an officer could be in danger if he or she begins by telling the person to drop the weapon, then moves to a baton, then moves to pepper spray, then moves to a taser and then moves to his or her own service weapon. Instead, the officer would need to meet force with force by producing a handgun and utilizing verbal commands. If the suspect drops the handgun and begins to fight the officer with fists, the officer would be using excessive force by continuing to utilize his or her service weapon. Instead, the officer needs to move around the circle of force and attempt to subdue the suspect using lesser force instead of dropping back down a rung on the ladder of force.
Circle of Force Basics
- Use of force changes with the threat
- Police must dial back force when a situation de-escalates
- Police do not have to move through all available force options
- Force should end when an arrest is completed
When is Deadly Force Authorized?
The use of deadly force is one of the largest responsibilities a law enforcement officer can take on in the line of duty, and deadly force must only be used to protect against death or extreme bodily harm. Police are supposed to meet force with force in an arrest, meaning they are to equal the use of force being used or threatened to be used against them or another person to protect innocent lives. Deadly force is perhaps one of the most scrutinized aspects of policing, and with the prevalence of recording devices available to police departments and the public, its usage is being examined more closely than ever.
In any type of confrontation, law enforcement are required to make all reasonable attempts to avoid deadly force. This includes by using the wheel of force discussed above and by recognizing when a threat has been de-escalated to the point where force is no longer necessary. Use of deadly force after a suspect has surrendered and been arrested is illegal, and in any use of force situation, deadly or otherwise, officer’s need to be fully accountable for their actions.
Can Phoenix Police Use Force Against You in an Arrest?
In a situation where a person is being arrested, force can be used to carry out the duty of taking physical custody of your person; however, this only pertains to force as it extends to a threat. The police should not utilize force if you are cooperative and complying with commands. In a typical arrest, force is not required, but in some cases, police make mistakes, or worse, an officer may use force as a means of punishment or retaliation.
When force is used illegally, it can be difficult to know what to do. After all, you’re likely in a situation where you’re outnumbered and have already been physically hurt by someone who is supposed to be a trusted authority figure. To add to this, you may feel that no one will believe your side of the story if you try to tell others about what has happened, and you may also worry that you will be hurt even further if you try to fight for your rights. These types of situations can be complicated and complex, so it’s recommended that you partner with a defense attorney to work out the details of your next steps.
If you’ve been arrested, it’s always a good idea to comply with commands to the best of your ability and remain silent until you can speak with your attorney. When arrested, you should also be provided with your Miranda rights, but even if you aren’t, they still apply. These rights allow you to avoid self-incrimination and give you the chance to contact your attorney and have him or her present during any questioning. You may be tempted to speak with an interrogating officer to talk about the use of force in your arrest, but unless you are requesting medical attention, you should remain quiet and wait until you consult with your attorney.
Your Rights and the Use of Force in an Arrest
- Make a mental note of everything that takes place
- Comply with officer commands
- Don’t resist an arrest
- Remain silent
- Speak with your defense attorney as soon as possible
Contact an Arizona Criminal Defense Attorney at DM Cantor
If you’ve been arrested in Arizona, it’s important to have an ally who understands your rights and can aggressively defend your name and reputation. DM Cantor provides criminal defense legal services for Arizona residents who have been arrested, and David Michael Cantor, a Board Certified Criminal Law Specialist, knows what it takes to hold officers accountable for their actions when force has been used. You don’t have to suffer in silence! The experienced and compassionate Arizona criminal defense attorneys at DM Cantor are ready to listen and make sure your voice is heard.