Self-Defense in Assault and Resisting Arrest Case

Client was a Penn State student that had been drinking with a friend and were a little loud when walking on campus in the wee hours of the morning.  Client realized that two people were walking behind him in the distance.  Client and friend continued to walk, but they toned down their rowdiness because he was underage and knew that he should not have been drinking.  Client footsteps from the people behind him and realized the the people were closing the distance. Client then heard the people running towards him.  Someone grabbed Client’s shoulder and pulled, causing Client to spin around.  As Client spun, he extended his arm shoved the person that grabbed him in the chest.  Client was then tackled and taken to the ground.  During the scuffle on the ground, the people identified themselves as being police.  Client stopped resisting and was arrested.

Client was charged with Aggravated Assault, Resisting Arrest, Disorderly Conduct, Public Drunkenness and Underage Drinking.  At the initial court proceeding, State College defensse attorney Jason S. Dunkle argued for the dismissal of the Aggravated Assault charge because Client did not have the intent to cause a bodily injury to the officers. The judge agreed and dismissed the felony assault charge.

The remaining charges proceeded to trial.  At trial, Attorney Dunkle acknowledged that Client had been drinking and was loud, so he conceded that Client should be convicted of the summary offenses of Underage Drinking and Disorderly Conduct.  Attorney Dunkle argued to the jury that Client must be found not guilty of the misdemeanor offenses of Resisting Arrest and Disorderly Conduct because he had acted in self-defense.  Normally, a person cannot claim self-defense against a police officer IF the person knew that he was fighting with the police. However, in this case, the police admitted that they did not identify themselves as police officers until after Client was tackled and taken to the ground.  Client did not know that he was wrestling with officers until after the police had already physically engaged him. After hearing all of the evidence, the jury found Client not guilty of the misdemeanor offenses.  Client was convicted of Underage Drinking and Disorderly Conduct, but Client was able to expunge the summary convictions after 5 years.