Resisting an Officer Without Violence

Criminal Defense Lawyer Protecting the Rights of Clearwater Defendants

It is illegal to resist an officer not only with violence but even without violence. The law prohibits even non-violent interference directed toward a cop who is acting according to a legitimate law enforcement function. If you are charged with resisting an officer without violence, you should consult an experienced Clearwater violent crime attorney. At Hanlon Law, we believe in fighting for the rights of the accused.

Resisting an Officer Without Violence

Florida Statute section 843.02 states that anybody who nonviolently resists, obstructs, or opposes law enforcement, probation officers, parole and probation supervisors, personnel of the Department of Law Enforcement, or anyone else who is legally allowed to execute process is guilty of a first-degree misdemeanor. The issue is whether the officer is acting according to a legitimate law enforcement function.

The prosecution must show beyond a reasonable doubt each of the following elements:

  • The defendant resisted, opposed, or stood in the way of a law enforcement officer;
  • The officer was executing legal process or engaged in the legal execution of a duty at the time of the resistance;
  • The officer was someone legally authorized to execute process; and
  • The defendant knew that they were resisting or standing in the way of an officer or someone else who was legally authorized to execute process.

A mild or defensive action by a suspect can be construed as resistance for the purposes of this charge. Often, resisting an officer without violence is attached to other charges associated with an arrest. For example, if you are being arrested for molesting a child, and you tense your arms, you could be charged with both lewd and lascivious battery and resisting an officer without violence. For another example, if you are being arrested for having sex with a minor, and you give false information, you could be charged with resisting an officer without violence in addition to statutory rape. Similarly, if you flee from the police when they are trying to apprehend you for traveling to meet a minor whom you met on the Internet for the purposes of having sex, you could be charged with traveling to meet a minor, certain Internet sex crimes, and resisting an officer without violence. Concealing evidence, refusing to sit down, not obeying a lawful command, or acting as a lookout to stop a lawful arrest are also actions that can give rise to a charge for resisting an officer without violence.

In most cases, talking is not enough to get charged. However, there are situations in which speech can be considered resistance, such as providing a warning to another suspect to stop an arrest from taking place or lying to the police about your name.

If you are convicted of nonviolent resistance, you can face a maximum of one year in jail or on probation, as well as a fine of up to $1,000. In many cases, it is possible to negotiate to avoid jail and be put on probation. However, this often depends on whether there are other charges. If there are other sex crime charges, you may not face jail time for the resistance charge, but you may still be imprisoned for the sex crime and required to register. When you have a significant criminal history or have resisted arrest in the past, it is possible that you will face jail time for this charge.

There are defenses that a Clearwater criminal defense attorney may be able to raise on your behalf. All criminal charges need to be proven beyond a reasonable doubt, which is a tough standard. We may be able to raise a reasonable doubt about whether you were actually resisting. Sometimes there is evidence that goes against the officer's version of events, such as surveillance footage. In other cases, we may be able to argue that what the prosecution claims was resistance was an involuntary reaction. In order to be considered resistance for the purpose of a charge, you need to have had a general intent to willfully and knowingly block an officer who was performing lawful duties. There is also a potential defense if the officer was not acting according to a legal duty.

Retain a Tenacious Criminal Attorney in the Clearwater Area

If you have been charged with resisting an officer without violence or with violence or committing battery against a law enforcement officer in Clearwater, you should retain a tough and experienced lawyer. Will Hanlon has aggressively represented the accused since 1994. We are dedicated to guarding the rights of the accused. You can contact Hanlon Law at (727) 897-5413 or via our online form.