Penn State Resisting Arrest Case - Shove of Officer Was Self-Defense

Drunk and Disorderly on University Park Campus of Penn State

The client was walking on the University Park Campus of Penn State University around 3:00 a.m. with a friend. Both the client and his friend were underage and had been drinking alcohol, and the client was yelling loudly. The yelling drew the attention of two Penn State police officers, and the officers proceeded to the area near the client to investigate the disturbance. The client's friend observed two individuals approaching from approximately ninety feet away, and both the client and the friend began to walk away. While the client and his friend walked away, the officers began to run after the client and friend. After the officers were approximately fifteen feet from the client, one officer told both individuals to stop. The friend stopped, but the client continued to walk. The officer repeated his command to stop while he continued running towards the client. The officer grabbed the shoulder of the client, at which point the client immediately turned and pushed the officer in the chest. The officer then grabbed a hold of the client's arm, put it behind the client's back, and attempted to handcuff the client. The second officer also attempted to handcuff the client, and, after a relatively short struggle, the client was tackled by the officers and taken to the ground. The officers continued to attempt to place handcuffs on the client, utilized two blasts of pepper spray to the client's face, and the police ultimately were able to handcuff the client.

Penn State Felony Assault Charge Filed

The client was charged with Aggravated Assault, Resisting Arrest, misdemeanor Disorderly Conduct, Underage Drinking, Public Drunkenness, and a summary charge of Disorderly Conduct. At the preliminary hearing, experienced Penn State criminal defense attorney Jason S. Dunkle argued that the Aggravated Assault charge was not justified based upon the facts, and the Aggravated Assault charge was withdrawn. The remainder of the charges proceeded to a jury trial in Centre County. At trial, the assistant district attorney argued that the Penn State client knew that his pursuers were police because the client and his friend immediately walked away upon seeing the individuals. Criminal defense attorney Jason S. Dunkle argued that the client did not know that his pursuers were police officers. The defense argument was that the client knew that he was guilty of Underage Drinking and Disorderly Conduct for yelling, so, after seeing other people nearby, he wanted to leave the area and return to his dorm. The fact that the client wanted to distance himself from the unknown individuals did not evidence that he "knew" that the individuals were law enforcement. The State College assault defense lawyer then argued that since the client did not know that the person that grabbed him was a police officer, his action of shoving the officer in the chest was justified under a self-defense argument. If the client did not know that the person that grabbed him was a police officer, then client was permitted to use reasonable force to defend himself. The officer admitted that he only attempted to arrest the client because of the client's pushing of the officer, so Attorney Dunkle argued that the arrest of the client was unlawful because the push was justified under a self-defense argument. The Centre County jury returned a not guilty verdict on the misdemeanor offenses of Resisting Arrest and Disorderly Conduct. Penn State defense lawyer Jason S. Dunkle filed an expungement petition to have the eligible charges expunged from the client's criminal record.