Obstructing Justice or Resisting Arrest2019-07-03T14:58:19-04:00

Obstructing Justice or Resisting Arrest Attorney

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Obstruction and Resisting Arrest

Obstruction and resisting arrest are common charges in Pinellas County. Officers frequently allege these crimes when they simply don’t like a person. There are normally no witnesses other than simply the police officer. Simply put, obstruction or resisting charges are normally a catch all for circumstances when the officer wants to pile on a defendant or when they have no other charges to file. Obstruction and resisting arrest charges are sometimes easy to defend and can be dismissed. If you have any questions about the validity of the charges, contact St. Petersburg obstructing justice or resisting arrest attorney Sean McQuaid.

Obstruction of Justice

Resisting arrest charges allegedly occur when an individual resists or interferes and attempts to prevent a law officer from performing a lawful arrest. It is also known as an obstruction of justice. Obstruction of justice is committing a crime against any law enforcement officer. Obstructing justice as defined in Florida Statute 843.03, “Whoever in any manner disguises himself or herself with intent to obstruct the due execution of the law, or with the intent to intimidate, hinder, or interrupt any officer, beverage enforcement agent, or other person in the legal performance of his or her duties or the exercise of his or her rights under the constitution or laws of this state.”

Listed below are some examples of obstructing justice or resisting arrest:

  • Assaulting a police officer
  • Threatening to harm a police officer
  • Running or hiding from a police officer
  • Providing false information to law enforcement
  • Tensing or moving arms to prevent being handcuffed
  • Refusing to put your hands behind your back
  • Refusing to leave an area
  • Disobeying verbal commands
  • Concealing evidence
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Penalties of Obstructing Justice

The charges of obstructing justice or resisting arrest depends on the severity of the action of the person accused of the crime. It can result in either a misdemeanor or felony charge.

In Florida, there are two types of crimes of resisting arrest:

  1. Resisting arrest without violence
  2. Resisting arrest with violence

Florida law prohibits anyone from resisting arrest from law enforcement whether it is with or without violence. Resisting arrest without violence is generally charged as a first-degree misdemeanor. Resisting arrest with violence and causing bodily harm to law enforcement is charged as a third-degree felony.

Penalties of obstructing justice or resisting arrest can result in probation, fines, and/or incarceration.

Resisting Without Violence – Penalty as a Misdemeanor:

Up to one year in jail or 12 months of probation, and a $1,000 fine.

Resisting with Violence – Penalty as a Felony:

Up to five years in prison or five years of probation, and a $5,000 fine.

Defenses of Obstructing Justice

Officer Arresting Someone While Not on Active Duty

Although police officers are officers 24/7, it may not be easy to identify them when they are off-duty. While they are off-duty, they may not be in uniform or have access to their equipment such as their marked patrol cars or radios which helps identify them as police officers. Because of this, people may not believe an off-duty officer when told that they work with law enforcement, and resist arrest. These type of confrontations may cause confusion and mistrust as there have been incidents with criminals impersonating officers.

Officer Not Explaining the Reason for the Arrest

It is the police officer’s duty to explain the reason for the arrest. If a person is arrested, he or she has a right to know why. If an officer does not state the reason why, that may explain the resistance as the defendant may not believe he or she committed a crime.

Defendant Moving Arms

If the defendant’s handcuffs are placed on too tightly, he or she may move in reaction to the pain. This action could be misconstrued as resisting arrest.

Unlawful Arrest

An unlawful arrest is made when it is done without probable cause or a warrant. A police officer should only arrest someone if they have probable cause to believe that he or she has committed a crime. Without this, there should be no arrest; therefore, there should be no resisting an arrest.

False Allegations

A police officer may make false allegations and arrest someone for a crime that he or she did not commit. An example is an officer has a non-threatening verbal exchange with someone and does not like his or her tone. This may cause the officer to perform an arrest and falsely accuse the defendant of becoming violent. Although officers are the ones who hold authority, it does not give them the right to do whatever they please, such as making a false arrest. The defendant may resist in this type of exchange in an attempt to protect his or her freedom.

St. Petersburg Obstructing Justice or Resisting Arrest Attorney

If you are facing charges of obstructing justice or resisting arrest, it is imperative that you consult with an obstructing justice or resisting arrest attorney who can provide a winning defense strategy in order to reduce your sentence, get the charges dismissed, or prove your innocence. Resisting arrest is a serious offense and should not be taken lightly. St. Petersburg Criminal Defense Attorney Sean McQuaid has many years of experience in similar cases and will serve in your best interest and assist you in obtaining the best possible outcome.

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