You haven't done anything wrong, but you're still wary of an encounter with the police. You see an officer walking through your neighborhood while you're on the way to a friend's house. You decide that you're going to run the rest of the way, putting distance between the two of you and avoiding a meeting. If you run, can the police arrest you?

Though this seems straightforward in many regards, it's actually pretty complex. Some legal experts have even noted that there's a bit of a double standard often used by the courts. As such, there are two key points to consider.

Running Is Legal

First and foremost, it's not illegal to get away from an officer of the law. After all, you're allowed to walk away. If the police don't think you've done anything wrong and have no reasonable cause to detain you, they can't legally force you to do anything. It doesn't matter if they want to talk to you or not. You can just walk away. Due to the same justification, you can run away. Your speed doesn't change the legality of the situation.

Police May Claim Running Gives Them Cause

The problem you encounter is this: Police may see you running, decide that itself is suspicious, and then say that the fact that you fled at the mere sight of an officer actually gave them reasonable cause to pursue and arrest you.

As much as this seems like a double standard, courts have backed police up in some cases, especially when the setting itself plays into their suspicion. For instance, maybe the street you're walking down is infamous for drug deals. You didn't make one, but police expect these deals to be happening all the time. Since you ran on that street, they may claim it was suspicious because it made it look like you were on the way to or from a drug deal and didn't want to get caught.

Your Defense

As you can see, these are complex situations, but the key is to remember your legal rights. It's illegal for officers to arrest and detain you for no reason at all. After a questionable arrest is made, you must know what legal defense options you have.