If you interfere with a member of law enforcement when they are executing a legal duty—such as making an arrest or serving a summons—you could find yourself charged with resisting an officer. When you are already facing serious charges (as is often the case), an additional charge of resisting an officer can make your Florida criminal case even more perilous, as these secondary charges are often used as an excuse for prosecutors to pursue harsher penalties.
A charge of resisting an officer can negatively impact your case—and your future—in a number of key ways. Not only can these charges make you the target of aggressive prosecution, but they can also substantially decrease your chances of being allowed to participate in any kind of diversion program.
Don't let a misunderstanding or a poor choice made during a tense moment add to your legal troubles and threaten to destroy everything you've worked for. Whether you were charged with resisting an officer with violence or without violence, you need an exceptional team of attorneys to mount your defense. Fortunately, that's just what you'll find at Flaherty & Merrifield. Contact us today to schedule your free, confidential, no-obligation initial consultation.
Police Officers Are Not the Only Members of Law Enforcement
When you think of a “law enforcement officer,” chances are, the first thing that comes to mind is a uniformed patrol officer. However, the term “law enforcement” refers to a much broader range of personnel under the Florida statute, including:
- State and local police officers
- Part-time law enforcement officers
- Correctional officers
- Part-time correctional officers
- Correctional probation officers
- Auxiliary law enforcement officers
- Auxiliary correctional officers
- Members of the Florida Commission on Offender Review (or any administrative aide or supervisor employed by the commission)
- County probation officers
- Parole and probation supervisors
- Personnel or representatives of the Department of Law Enforcement
- Any other individuals legally authorized to serve subpoenas or warrants
Resisting an Officer Without Violence
Resisting an officer without violence can consist of any kind of non-violent resistance, obstruction, or opposition to a law enforcement officer who is in the process of executing a legal duty. Examples of actions that have led to charges of resisting without violence include:
- Tensing arms while being handcuffed
- Refusing to be handcuffed or evading handcuffs
- Failing to obey lawful verbal commands
- Refusing to sit down
- Providing false or misleading information
- Concealing evidence
- Evading police (when there's a reasonable suspicion of criminal activity)
- Interfering in a police investigation or serving as a “lookout” to prevent an arrest
As a first-degree misdemeanor, resisting an officer without violence carries penalties of up to one year of jail or probation, as well as a $1,000 fine. There are a number of potential defenses against these charges, such as:
- Your actions didn't amount to actual opposition or obstruction.
- Your actions were involuntary and not intended to “knowingly and willfully impede an officer in the performance of his or her lawful duties.”
- The officer was not engaged in carrying out a lawful duty.
- The arrest or detention was unlawful.
- The officer was “on the job,” but not executing a legal duty.
- The officer used excessive force.
- The officer failed to explain the arrest.
- You didn't know the individual was an officer of the law.
Resisting an Officer With Violence
Knowingly opposing or obstructing an officer by committing or threatening to commit a violent act towards them while they are engaged in a lawful duty can result in charges of resisting an officer with violence. If you're charged with this crime, you're in a world of trouble. Unlike resisting without violence—which is a first-degree misdemeanor—resisting with violence is a third-degree felony that, upon conviction, carries penalties of up to five years in prison or probation, in addition to a $5,000 fine. Even defendants with little or no prior criminal history can potentially find themselves behind bars as a result of such charges, particularly if the officer in question sustained injuries. Potential defenses to resisting with violence charges include:
- Your actions weren't “violent” under the statute.
- The officer wasn't engaged in a lawful duty.
- Your actions weren't willful and purposeful, but an involuntary reaction to being handcuffed or otherwise restrained.
- The officer used excessive force.
- You didn't know the individual was a law enforcement officer.
Have You Been Arrested For Resisting an Officer in Florida?
If you've been arrested for resisting an officer in Florida you need to speak with an experienced criminal defense attorney as soon as possible. Contact us online or call our Fort Walton Beach office directly at 850.243.6097 to schedule your free consultation.