Resisting An Officer: The Most Overcharged Crime In Florida

  • Feb 1 2019

One of the most common, and most confusing crimes in Florida is resisting an officer. Almost every client who walks through our firm’s door has been, or could have been, charged with this crime because the prosecutors and police love it. However, most people misunderstand it, or don’t know what it is, when they are at risk of committing it, or how to defend against a charge of it.

What is it?

Resisting an officer sounds pretty straightforward, but it is more complicated than it sounds.

The first thing to know is that the crime is Resisting an Officer – not Resisting ARREST. You don’t have to be in the process of being arrested to be charged with Resisting an Officer. Also, there are two types of resisting an officer— with violence or without violence. Both crimes involve interfering with or obstructing the work of a law enforcement officer. When the resisting, interfering, or obstructing is done violently, or violence is threatened, the charge is “with violence.”

There is a big difference between resisting an officer with violence and without violence, but both are serious criminal charges that should not be taken lightly.

Under Florida law, resisting an officer with violence is classified as a third degree felony. Offenders may be sentenced to as much as 5 years in prison and fined $5,000. Even defendants with no criminal history often wind up in jail or prison if they are convicted. If a law enforcement officer was actually injured or a weapon was used, a lengthy prison sentence is almost certain.

Resisting an officer without violence is a first degree misdemeanor, punishable by up to one year in jail or 12 months of probation, and a $1,000 fine. What someone who is convicted of resisting an officer without violence is actually sentenced to varies significantly based on the circumstances of the case and the offender’s criminal history.

Some Common Examples

Resisting is not a well-defined term, so it is difficult to say what actions or words will or won’t get you charged with resisting an officer. This is not an accident. Prosecutors LOVE being able to tack on a charge of resisting an officer because it makes the other things they are charging you with sound more serious, and it scores them brownie points with the local law enforcement officers.

Some common scenarios that often result in a charge of resisting an officer without violence include:

  • Running away from an officer after being told to stop.
  • Not obeying lawful verbal commands, like “step out of your car.”
  • Refusing to leave an area when asked.
  • Not standing up or sitting down when asked.
  • Not putting your hands up or behind your back when asked.
  • Tensing your arms or flexing when an officer is trying to handcuff you.

And, as we said before, this is not an exclusive list. Prosecutors will throw in a resisting an officer charge every chance they get.

If you threaten the officer, or some sort of violence actually occurs in one of these situations, the charge can be bumped up to resisting an officer with violence.

Defending Against A Charge Of Resisting An Officer

The only good thing about the fact that resisting an officer is charged so often is that there are now a lot of examples of cases where these charges were dropped. As attorneys, we use these examples to argue that the charges against our clients should also be dropped or reduced.

We listen to our client’s side of the story, and work on gathering evidence that will prove his or her innocence. We meticulously comb through the police report searching for mistakes and outright lies. And we do not hesitate to point out situations where it is obvious that the officer used excessive force or entrapped our client.

Our years of experience help us put up a strong defense, which is what anyone who is charged with a crime deserves. If you have been charged with resisting an officer with or without violence, please contact our office to schedule a free meeting with our criminal defense team.

Posted in: Criminal