Resisting Arrest without Violence in Florida

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Resisting without violence is a criminal offense related to obstructing justice. In Florida, this is most often a misdemeanor charge and involves resisting, obstructing, or opposing any type of peace officer who is attempting to carry out his or her legal duty. The person resisting would not have attempted or succeeded in doing any bodily harm to the peace officer. For this reason, it can be difficult for a person accused of resisting violence to determine exactly what they did to resist arrest or otherwise interfere with law enforcement. If you have been charged with resisting without violence, it is important that you consult a criminal defense attorney as soon as you can. You will likely face this criminal charge along with whatever offense you were arrested or questioned for.

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Under the Category of “Obstruction of Justice”

Based on the Florida Statutes, resisting an arrest conducted by a police officer (in violent or non-violent manners) is labeled as an obstruction of justice.

According to 18 U.S. Code Section 1503, the “obstruction of justice” includes any crime that involves the voluntary and intentional attempt (by threat or force in written or spoken form) to influence, impede, or interfere with the regular administration of the justice system (including judicial proceedings).

Furthermore, U.S. Code Section 1505 dictates that a defendant may be charged with obstruction of justice if he or she inhibits the regular proceedings of court hearing.

What Constitutes the Crime of “Resisting Arrest”?  

As the name suggests, “resisting arrest” constitutes a crime during which a person physically struggles against or attempt to escape from a police officer to escape being detained. By U.S. Law, people cannot (in any way or by any means) physically harm and/or verbally abuse a police officer in any attempt to elude arrest. In many cases, this offense may be sent to a Florida State Court or superior court, depending on the severity of the crime in question.

Any individual who attempts to avoid arrest in one or more of the following ways will be charged with obstruction of justice, on the grounds of resisting arrest:

  • Using physical force to avoid restraint
  • Escaping from police officers to avoid being arrested
  • Threatening police officers with violence while escaping

In many cases, attempting to interfere in the routine duties of police officers (or related members of law enforcement) may be considered an offense of “resisting arrest”.

Resisting Arrest by a Police Officer in the State of Florida

As outlined in Florida Statute Title XLVI Chapter 843.02, any individual who (non-violently) makes a voluntary attempt to resist, obstruct, or demonstrate any form of opposition against any officer of law enforcement who is fully authorized to arrest this individual will be charged with a first-degree misdemeanor, punishable by a $1,000 fine and/or a prison sentence that does not exceed one year.

Chapter 843.02 specifies the following roles as “law enforcement officers,” who the law protects:

  • Members of the Florida Commission on Offender Review
  • Administrative aides and supervisors working for the Commission
  • County probation officers
  • Parole and probation supervisors
  • Representatives or personnel of the Department of Law Enforcement
  • Any individuals who have been granted legal permission to carry out an arrest

Threatening Violence while Resisting Arrest

Florida Statute Title XLVI Chapter 776.051 (1-2) provides details regarding the crime of resisting arrest by threatening violence towards a police officer conducting the arrest:

  • Any culprit who threatens a police officer (or someone who works within the legal system) with violence during the execution of a routine arrest will be committing an offense of Florida Law.
  • However, keep in mind that law enforcement officers and anyone who is aiding them during a routine arrest is also not permitted to use force if an arrest is not approved by legal officials.

Miscellaneous Crimes That Are Labeled as “Resisting Arrest”

Remember that the crime of resisting arrest (in a non-violent manner) may also include the obstruction of a police officer’s duties, meaning that additional offenses can be labeled as this particular crime. Here are some examples:

  • Going limp refers to a crime when a culprit forces a police officer to carry him or her while the officer is conducting the routine arrest.
  • Third-party obstruction refers to a crime when a person attempts to prevent an officer from arresting a culprit or conducting an investigation.
  • Provision of false information refers to a crime when an individual provides false identification or a name to a police officer to avoid being arrested.

Defining Members of the Department of Law Enforcement

To fully understand the roles and duties of the law enforcement officers mentioned in the statute for the “nonviolent resistance of arrests,” here is a closer look at the specific roles of officers mentioned in Florida Statute Title XLVII Chapter 943.10:

  • Law enforcement officers are people who have been appointed or employed (in a full-time position by municipal or state organizations) and granted the legal right to bear arms as part of a coordination of defensive measures. These people have been trained to prevent and detect a manner of crimes and may supervise the training of new officers.
  • Correctional officers are people who are charged with supervising, protecting, and investigating inmates who have been interred in correctional institutes or prisons. Any individuals who work as secretaries or clerks are not included in this category.
  • Correction probation officers are charged with supervising convicts who have been granted parole or have been ordered to take part in community control programs.
  • Part-time law enforcement officers have the same duties as full-time law enforcement officers.
  • Part-time correctional officers have the same duties as full-time correctional officers.

Determination of a Valid Case for Resisting Arrest without Violence

As indicated by the Florida Statutes, Chapter XLVI, § 843.02, instructions listed for members of a Criminal Jury highlighted in Case 21.2, members of the court must prove (without any shred of doubt) that:

  • The defendant resisted or opposed arrest.
  • During the time of the crime, the victim (the police officer) had been executing a routine arrest as part of legal duties.
  • During the time of the crime, the victim was a member of law enforcement.
  • During the time of the crime, the defendant was fully aware that the victim was a police officer.

According to Case 21.2, after members of the court have determined the aforementioned information, they must determine whether the victim in question was a law enforcement officer or correctional officer. Upon further determination of these facts, the court must list the victim as an officer of the law under a specific category.

See Wright v. State, 586 So. 2d 1024 (Fla. 1991) as an example.

Determination of a Valid Case for Resisting Arrest on the Grounds of Offering a False Report of a Commissioned Crime   

As indicated by the Florida Statutes, Chapter XLVI, § 817.49, instructions listed for members of a Criminal Jury highlighted in Case 21.4, members of the court must prove (without any shred of doubt) that:

  • The defendant voluntarily and intentionally offered a false report or fake information concerning the commission of a crime to a member of law enforcement.
  • The defendant was fully aware that the report was completely false and that the crime in question had never been committed.
  • The victim was a police officer during the time of the crime.
  • The defendant was fully aware that the victim was a police officer.

Determination of a Valid Case for Resisting Arrest on the Grounds of Providing False Identification to a Police Officer

As indicated by the Florida Statutes, Chapter XLVI, § 901.36(2), instructions listed for members of a Criminal Jury highlighted in Case 21.7, members of the court must prove (without any shred of doubt) that:

  • The defendant had been legally detained by a police officer.
  • The defendant had provided a fake name and any false information to the arresting officer during the time of the crime.
  • During the time the crime was committed, the officer or member of a county jail personnel had been serving as a police officer.
  • The victim (the officer) had been negatively affected by the illegal use of the false identification and additional fake information provided by the defendant.

Under this same jurisdiction, Case 21.7 also dictates that, if the officer has a valid reason to believe the defendant had been attempting to violate the law or had committed a crime, this officer may (under this same law) conduct a routine arrest.

The Florida Statutes 903.36 (1,2) explain that members of the Florida State Court to confirm (without any reasonable doubt) that the defendant had negatively affected the police officer by providing false information and ID during the arrest.

See Wright v. State, 586 So. 2d 1024 (Fla. 1991) as an example.

Determination of a Valid Case for Resisting Arrest by Attempting to Mislead a Police Officer

As indicated by the Florida Statutes, Chapter XLVI, § 837.055(1), instructions listed for members of a Criminal Jury highlighted in Case 21.15, members of the court must prove (without any shred of doubt) that:  

  • The police officer had been conducting a search for a missing person or a felony investigation.
  • The individual conducting the investigations had been a police officer during the time.
  • The defendant was fully aware that the victim was a police officer at the time.
  • The defendant willingly and voluntarily provided false information to the police officer.
  • The defendant provided false information in a voluntary attempt to mislead the police officer and/or obstruct the investigations in question.

In the event that the court disputes over whether or not the law enforcement officers had been conducting an investigation into a potential felony (not a misdemeanor), the court might provide special instructions regarding the case of felony to the Florida Jury.

Determining a Valid Case for Resisting Arrest by Harassing a Witness to the Crime

As indicated by the Florida Statutes, Chapter XLVI, § 914.22(1), instructions listed for members of a Criminal Jury highlighted in Case 21.10, members of the court must prove (without any shred of doubt) that the defendant:   

  • Intentionally and voluntarily harassed the witness to a crime.
  • Attempted to threaten or directly threatened the witness.
  • Took part in misleading conduct toward the victim in question.
  • Bribed the victim by offering a benefit in exchange for not reporting a crime.

Likewise, the court must also prove (without any shred of doubt) that the defendant attempted to force or harass the victim to:

  • Refrain from supplying a testimony and withhold evidence (e.g. records or documents) that could support a criminal investigation.
  • Alter or destroy an object that could aid in a police investigation.
  • Stay away from the legal process that instructs the victim to appear as a possible witness.

Keep in mind that the court does not have to specify if this crime took place before or after a hearing on the grounds of the initial crime (not avoiding arrest or harassing the victim).

Accused of Resisting Arrest? Contact an Attorney at Musca Law!

A person accused of resisting without violence may claim that they simply asked the officer a question or wanted to find out more about what was going on before getting arrested or taking into the police station for questioning. They may feel that the officer was trying to demonstrate his or her authority by charging them with resisting without violence. It may be that you have been wrongfully accused of this offense. A Florida criminal defense lawyer can help you by investigating the circumstances of your arrest and determining whether a situation was blown out of proportion by an overzealous officer. At Musca Law, our attorneys have the experience and resources to conduct a full-fledged investigation into your charges and determine how to best represent your interests. We work together as a team and utilize over 150 years of combined legal experience to provide higher quality representation – even in the face of the most serious charges. We offer free evaluations to get your case started.

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