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Commonwealth v. Biagini

Supreme Court of Pennsylvania
655 A.2d 492 (1995)


Officer Snyder was on patrol when he heard yelling and saw Bruce Biagini (defendant) stagger out from between two houses. When Snyder approached and asked about the shouting, Biagini said that nothing was wrong and went inside his house. Two nearby individuals told Snyder that Biagini had been screaming at them and had thrown a glass bottle. Snyder returned to Biagini’s house and knocked on the door. Snyder asked Biagini to go outside, but Biagini refused and angrily told Snyder to leave. Snyder attempted to arrest Biagini for public intoxication and disorderly conduct, but Biagini escaped from Snyder’s grasp and went back inside. Snyder called for backup and again knocked on the door. Biagini again refused to go outside, and when Snyder attempted the arrest, Biagini struggled with and punched Snyder but was soon restrained by backup officers. Biagini was charged with public drunkenness, disorderly conduct, aggravated assault, and resisting arrest. Under Pennsylvania law, a defendant commits the crime of resisting arrest when creating a substantial risk of harm with the intention of preventing a public servant from effecting a lawful arrest. In addition, § 505(b)(1)(i) states that the use of force is not justifiable to resist an arrest that a defendant knows is being made by a police officer, even if the arrest is unlawful. At trial, Biagini argued for dismissal of all charges on the grounds that the arrest was illegal. Biagini was convicted of all charges. After trial, Biagini again moved for dismissal, but the trial court denied the motion, concluding that the arrest was lawful. Biagini appealed, and the court held that the arrest for disorderly conduct and public intoxication was unlawful, because Biagini’s actions did not rise to the level of endangering himself or others. However, the conviction for resisting arrest was affirmed.

Rule of Law


Holding and Reasoning (Cappy, J.)

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