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Get Legal Assistance for Obstruction of Justice from Musca Law

Are you facing criminal charges for obstruction of justice as part of a court trial/procedure, a police investigation, or another legal matter? No matter the severity of your problem, you will definitely require the help of a lawyer who has experience with obstruction of justice cases in Sarasota, Florida. At Musca Law, our team has combined 150+ years of legal experience and offers free case evaluations as part of your discussions with us. Our legal team will work efficiently to create an effective strategy for helping you regain your future. 

For more information, get in touch with our office in Sarasota, Florida at (941) 909-3234 to speak with an experienced attorney today. 

What You Should Know about Obstruction of Justice

Overall, the umbrella of crimes covering the obstruction of justice (or obstructing justice) can constitute a variety of different offenses. However, keep in mind that all of these crimes involve the action/inaction occurring for the purpose of avoiding/resisting a member of law enforcement, prosecuting officials, members of the court, and other people who are directly involved with a governmental body. 

Some common offenses include: 

  • Resisting a police officer
  • Refusing to help police officers 
  • Impersonating a police officer 
  • Negligently or intentionally resisting police officers
  • Harboring one or more handcuff keys
  • Supplying an inmate with tools to help him/her escape from jail 
  • Failing to appear in court after being released on bail 
  • Fleeing or avoiding a law enforcement officer
  • Threatening or injuring police animals 
  • Sharing the private information of a law enforcement official
  • Illegally using a police communication device 
  • Intentionally failing to offer medical attention to crime victims 

A full list of specific crimes related to obstructing justice are described in Florida Statute Title XLVI Chapter 843

Criminal Charges for Resisting Police Officers in Sarasota

Consider that people can face different charges depending on their interaction with the police officer during the crime. The nature of the confrontation can either increase or decrease the severity of punishment, as shown in Florida Statute Title XLVI Chapter 843.01 and 834.02 outlines the different degrees of punishment people can face after committing this act of obstructing justice: 

  • Chapter 843.01: Any person who violently and aggressively resists an arrest conducted by law enforcement officer or legal personnel will face charges of a 3rd-degree felony, punishable by a 5-year prison sentence and a $5,000 fine. 
  • Chapter 843.02: Any person who resists an arrest (without being aggressive or violent) conducted by a law enforcement official or legal personnel will face charges of a 1st-degree misdemeanor, punishable by a 1-year prison sentence and a $1,000 fine. 

Charges for Illegally Concealing and Holding a Handcuff Key in Florida 

Florida Statute Title XLVI Chapter 843.021(2) states that people who (through illegal means) obtain and/or possess a key for a pair of police handcuffs will face charges of a 3rd-degree felony, resulting in a 5-year prison sentence and a $5,000 fine. 

A closer look at some details concerning the terminology related to this crime:  

  • Concealed handcuff key refers to a handcuff key that has been withheld by a suspect, who intended to hide this key from law enforcement officials. These items include keys concealed in clothing and accessories like shoes, socks, hose, undergarments, jewelry, hats, and gloves. 
  • Handcuff keys refers to a device or tool that has been created to unlock a pair of handcuffs.
  • In custody refers to an incident when an officer places handcuffs on a suspect’s wrists (even if the suspect has not been formally arrested). 

Refusal to Offer Aid to Prison Officers Who Are Attempting to Arrest Escaped Prisoners

Under Florida Statute Title XLVI Chapter 843.04(1-2), any man or woman (civilian and officers) who refuses to help a prison officer who is attempting to arrest an escaped convict will face charges of a 1st-degree misdemeanor, punishable by a 1-year prison sentence and a $1,000 fine. 

Criminal Charges for Refusing Aid to Peace Officers 

As detailed in Florida Statute Title XLVI Chapter 843.06, any citizen or officer must (by law) help a member of the Florida Highway Patrol, a watchman, or another office of the peace (in any way). Anyone who refuses to provide this assistance will face charges of a 2nd-degree misdemeanor, resulting in a 60-day prison sentence and a $500 fine. 

Allowing Criminals to Break out of Prison 

Florida Statute Title XLVI Chapter 843.09 and 843.10 states that jailers or other officers of the law who are supervising criminals will face one of two different forms of punishment if they allow any of these criminals to escape from prison: 

  • Chapter 843.09: Any jailer or member of law enforcement who intentionally and willingly helps convicts escape from legal custody will face charges of a 2nd-degree felony, resulting in a punishment of a 15-year prison sentence and a $10,000 fine. 
  • Chapter 843.10: Any jailer or member of law enforcement who negligently and accidentally helps a convict escape from legal custody will face charges of a 1st-degree misdemeanor, resulting in a punishment of a 1-year prison sentence and a $1,000 fine. 

Punishment for Allowing Criminals to Break out of Florida Prisons

As outlined in Florida Statute Title XLVI Chapter 843.11, any people who deliver the necessary tools, weapons, disguises, and other items to criminals so they can escape from prison and subsequently help this culprit (with the necessary resources) flee will face charges of a 2nd-degree felony, punishable by a 15-year prison sentence and $10,000 fine. 

On a similar note, if a person helps prisoners who were not charged with capital offenses, he/she will face charges of a 1st-degree misdemeanor, punishable by a 1-year prison sentence and a $1,000 fine. 

Chapter 843.11 also stresses that the person who supplied the necessary items for the escape will be punished under the same guidelines of Florida Laws, if the escapee uses any weapons or tools against legal officials or commits another crime during his/her attempt to escape. 

Defendant on Bail Fails to Appear in Court 

Under Florida Statute Title XLVI Chapter 843.15, any person who (under Chapter 903) has been released from prison and intentionally fails to appear at a hearing or does not appear in the presence of any officer who serves as a representative of the state justice system will be denied any security that was issued for his/her release. Ultimately, the Florida court will subsequently issue the following forms of punishment: 

  • People released on charges of a felony or awaiting a conviction for similar crimes of this severity will face charges of a 3rd-degree felony, resulting in a punishment of a 5-year prison sentence and a fine of $5,000. 
  • People released on charges of a misdemeanor (under identical conditions) will face charges of a 1st-degree misdemeanor, resulting in a punishment of a 1-year prison sentence and a $1,000 fine. 

Punishment for Sharing a Police Officer’s Private Information 

People can ultimately face punishment for sharing the private information of policemen and women. Under Florida Statute Title XLVI Chapter 843.17, any person who maliciously (with the intent to obstruct any upholding of Florida laws or interfere with a police officer’s legal duties) releases private information including but not limited to home addresses and phone numbers without receiving permission from this officer will face charges of a 1st-degree misdemeanor, punishable by a 1-year prison sentence and/or a $1,000 fine.  

Exhibiting Violence towards Animals of the Florida Police Force

Besides the men and women of law enforcement, you must understand that Florida law also protects animals who are raised, handled, and trained by officers of the law and who are recognized as police officers.  

Florida Statute Title XLVI Chapter 843.19 dictates that any person who threatens and/or inflicts any harm against a police animal will face one of two forms of punishment: 

  • People who willingly and intentionally injure or kill a police animal will face charges of a 3rd-degree felony, resulting in a punishment of a 5-year prison sentence and a $5,000 fine. 
  • People who willingly and intentionally slap or inflict bodily injuries on police animals will face charges of a 1st-degree misdemeanor, resulting in a punishment of a 1-year prison sentence and a $1,000 fine. 
  • People who willingly and intentionally harass, provoke, tease, or abuse a police animal or attempt to interfere with this animal’s work duties will face charges of a 2nd-degree misdemeanor, resulting in a punishment of a 60-day prison sentence and a $500 fine. 

Here is a closer look at animals that are considered an officer of the law in Florida: 

  • Police dog: dogs that are owned and trained by a law enforcement agency to assist police officers with the detection of criminal activity
  • Fire dog: dogs that are owned and employed by a fire department, fire district, or the Fire Marshal to assist firefighters in the exposure of flammable items or the examination of dangerous situations involving deadly fires
  • SAR dog: dogs that operate as search-and-rescue agents owned and/or trained by a fire department agency, police agency, or the Fire Marshall for the task of rescuing victims who are trapped beneath materials following a dangerous accident
  • Police horse: horses that are owned and trained by law enforcement agencies to help officers detect, identify, and intercept criminal activity. 

Criminal Charges for Using Police Communication Devices in Florida 

No person who resides in the State of Florida is permitted (Florida Statute Title XLVI Chapter 843.167) to interrupt any police communication to offer assistance to a criminals or to reveal the whereabouts and/or purpose of any police communication device: 

  • People who intercept police communications will face charges of a 2nd-degree misdemeanor, resulting in a punishment of a 60-day prison sentence and a $500 fine. These culprits may also be charged for a 1st-degree misdemeanor. 
  • People who steal these police devices will face charges of a 1st-degree misdemeanor, resulting in a punishment of a 1-year prison sentence and a $1,000 fine. 

Failure to Render Medical Aid to the Victim of a Crime 

Ultimately, any person who does not provide medical assistance to people who have suffered injuries during a crime will be charged for obstruction of justice. As outlined in Florida Statute Title XLVI Chapter 843.21(1-2), any person who willingly takes a crime victim into custody or attempts to prevent this person from receiving necessary medical attention as part of an attempt to impede an investigation will face one of two forms of punishment: 

  • If the victim suffers from a gradually worsening medical condition, the culprit who has taken this victim into custody will face charges of a 3rd-degree felony, punishable by a 5-year prison sentence and a $5,000 fine. 
  • If the victim dies because he/she was not helped, the culprit who took the victim into custody will face charges of a 2nd-degree felony, punishable by a 15-year prison sentence and a $10,000 fine.

Criminal Case for Obstruction of Justice: Violent Resistance of Arrest

Florida Statute Title XLVI Chapter 843.01 and Criminal Jury Case 21.1 dictates that members of the court and a criminal jury must prove (without any shred of doubt) that: 

  • The defendant willfully, intentionally, and voluntarily resisted an arresting officer by threatening violence. 
  • The arresting officer (victim, in this case) had been completing legal duties. 
  • The arresting officer (victim) had been granted permission to carry out a routine arrest.
  • The defendant had fully been aware that the victim was a police officer. 

If the police officer used unwarranted force to initiate the confrontation, the defendant can use this fact to his/her advantage to create a viable defense. 

For more information about details for defense and trials in the Florida Courts, please review Chapter 21 of Criminal Jury Instructions as outlined by the Florida Supreme Court. 

Get High-Quality Legal Representation with a Musca Lawyer!

Accusations of any sort of criminal activity can be extremely dangerous, as your freedom and reputation have been put on the line. Furthermore, your family may also be impacted by this problem, especially if you are the primary wage-earner in your home. Take the next step to get your life back. Musca Law has over 150 years of experience dealing with obstruction of justice in Sarasota, Florida. Contact us today if you or a loved one needs representation. 

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