There are several different ways that you could potentially be charged with Obstructing Justice. The most common way we see this charge brought is under statute 843.02, Resisting Officer without Violence.
Other ways to be charged with Obstruction of Justice is by:
- Interfering with police
- Interfering with a prosecution, judge or other government official
- Tampering with a witness
- Tampering/destroying evidence.
If you have been accused of obstructing justice in any of its forms, hiring effective legal representation is your best chance to avoid having an Obstruction charge tarnish your reputation and negatively affect your home and work life.
What is Obstruction/Resisting in Broward, Palm Beach and Dade County?
Under Florida Statute 843.02, the crime of Resisting Officer without violence occurs when a person:
- Knowingly and willfully resists, obstructs, or opposes a law enforcement officer engaged in the:
- Execution of legal process, or:
- Lawful execution of a legal duty
Law Enforcement Officer – Any police officer, deputy sheriff, correctional officer, probation officer or person legally authorized to execute process.
Potential Penalties for Obstruction without Violence
- Maximum of 1 year in county jail and
- Maximum of 1 year of probation or a fine
However, if you are accused of obstructing/resisting while offering or actually doing violence, you could be facing serious felony penalties:
Under Florida Statute 843.01, the crime of Resisting/Obstructing with violence occurs:
- Knowingly and willfully resist, obstruct or oppose
- Person known to be a law enforcement officer
- By threatening violence or engaging in violent conduct
- While the law enforcement officer was engaged in:
- Execution of legal process or;
- Lawful execution of a legal duty
Whether you are charged with either a misdemeanor or felony, the consequences of a conviction for Resisting/Obstructing can be severe. If convicted, you could be facing imprisonment, fines, probation, the loss of your driver’s license and other similar penalties.
Defenses to the charge of Resisting/Obstructing
A person is justified in the use of reasonable force to defend one’s self against an officer who uses excessive force to make an arrest or engages in police brutality. However, a person can only engage in self defense to the extent reasonably believed to be necessary. The determination of whether the self defense was justified is based upon the circumstances at the time.
You are allowed to defend yourself if the appearance of excessive force or police brutality appeared to be imminent. This is a very fact specific and technical area of the law. The details of your specific case must be discussed at length with your criminal defense attorney.
It must be obvious that the person with whom you are resisting/obstructing is actually a police officer. The statute states that the police officer must be “known, or reasonably appears to be a law enforcement officer.” A person accused of Resisting Officer without Violence must have reason to know that the “victim” was actually an officer and not someone impersonating an officer.
Examples: Wearing a badge, gun, driving a marked police vehicle, shouting “police” all would count as evidence that you knew or should have known the person was a police officer.
Freedom of Speech
A person’s words alone will almost always fall under the 1st amendment right to free speech and will not be charged as Resisting or Obstructing an Officer without Violence. However, words coupled with physical conduct or other actions could potentially give rise to a charge. You must always be aware of your body language as well as your speech when confronting police. Again, this particular defense is very fact specific and must be discussed in detail with your attorney.
Resisting an Unlawful Arrest
It is legal to resist an unlawful or illegal arrest, detention, or investigation as long as it is done so without doing or offering violence.
Is this the first time you have been arrested or charged with a Resisting or Obstructing Charge? Call now to ask about potential enrollment in Pre-Trial Diversion programs for first time offenders. While not a technical defense to the charge, a pretrial intervention program could be an available means to have your charges dismissed and then later sealed or expunged from your record. Call today to find out more.
Contact a Broward County, Miami, and Palm Beach Resisting Arrest Attorney
The Office of Dell & Schaefer has been representing criminal defense clients since 1979. Lead Attorney Grant Schwarz is rated 10.0 out of 10.0 Superb on Avvo.com and ready to take your case on and start fighting to defend your rights today. Grant Schwarz will answer any questions you may have and will work tirelessly to achieve the best possible result for your case. Call our office for a free consultation 24 hours a day, 7 days a week including weekends and holidays. The earlier you contact a Broward, Palm Beach and Miami Criminal Defense Lawyer the better. Call Grant Schwarz to building your strong legal defense to the charge of Resisting or Obstructing Justice.