When it comes to exerting your legal rights while being arrested, there’s a fine line between questioning an officer’s reasoning and incurring a resisting arrest charge. Resisting arrest—sometimes referred to as “obstruction”—occurs when a person interferes with a law enforcement officer’s attempt to perform a lawful arrest. If you decide to argue with law enforcement during the arrest, it’s not uncommon for a police officer to allege that you were resisting.
It’s important to understand when you can and can’t be penalized for resisting arrest according to Florida law. If you believe that you’ve been incorrectly charged with resisting arrest, get in touch with an experienced West Palm Beach resisting arrest lawyer who may be able to protect your legal rights.
Understanding Florida’s Resisting Arrest Laws
Florida laws make a clear distinction between resisting arrest with violence and resisting arrest without violence, though both are against the law. It’s important to understand your legal rights in both cases. Here’s everything you need to know.
Resisting Arrest without Violence
Resisting arrest without violence is a first-degree misdemeanor offense and is typically included along with other charges. Ultimately, the prosecution must prove the following elements beyond a reasonable doubt in order to demonstrate that an individual was resisting arrest without violence.
- The defendant resisted, obstructed, or opposed a law enforcement officer
- The officer was engaged in executing a legal process or duty
- The officer was legally authorized to execute the process or duty
- At the time, the defendant knew they were resisting a law enforcement officer
A violation of this statute is a first-degree misdemeanor and carries a maximum sentence of one year in county jail.
Resisting Arrest with Violence
In Florida, resisting an officer with violence occurs when a defendant knowingly resists or obstructs police by committing or threatening to commit a violent act. In order to prove this offense, the prosecution must be able to demonstrate the following elements beyond a reasonable doubt:
- The defendant knowingly and willfully resisted, obstructed, or opposed the alleged victim by offering or executing violence
- The alleged victim was an officer or a person legally engaged in the lawful execution of a legal duty
- The defendant knew at the time that the alleged victim was legally authorized to execute such processes or duties
This offense is a third-degree felony in Florida that carries with it penalties that frequently include time spent in jail or prison.
When Does a Disagreement with an Officer Constitute Resisting Arrest?
When it comes to making an arrest, law enforcement agencies are unable to predict just how individuals are going to react. For this reason, Florida has relatively strict laws in place to protect officers during the process, as well as rigorous avenues for criminalizing individuals who don’t act according to the laws pertaining to an arrest.
With that being said, there are certainly cops who don’t deal well with pressure and stress and therefore get aggressive and use undue force when a level-headed person would have resolved the situation differently. It’s not uncommon, in these situations, for a defendant to be charged with resisting arrest despite the situation initially stemming from a simple disagreement. That begs the question, at what point does a disagreement become resisting arrest?
- Aggressive behavior: If this arrestee is upset or angry, they may become forceful and exhibit aggressive behavior that can lead to a physical altercation.
- Physical touching: If the individual facing a possible arrest touches an officer in nearly any way, they may be considered a threat to the police officer. If this occurs during an argument, the officer may believe that the other party is trying to physically harm them.
- Impeding the officer: An individual can argue with an officer, but when the argument begins to impede an officer’s investigation, the individual may face resisting arrest charges.
- Undue force: Even if an individual doesn’t use aggression or become violent, they may still be charged with resisting arrest based on undue force. This typically involves a sudden outburst of emotion during a disagreement.
The rules about resisting arrest in Florida can be confusing. If you’ve been charged with resisting arrest, it may be in your best interest to contact a West Palm Beach resisting arrest lawyer as soon as possible for help determining the legal options available to you.
Contact a Resisting Arrest Attorney in West Palm Beach
If you’ve been charged with resisting arrest in Florida, get in touch with Brian Gabriel an experienced criminal defense lawyer in West Palm Beach as soon as possible. For legal assistance, look no further than The Law Office of Gabriel & Gabriel. Attorney Brian Gabriel is well-versed in Florida’s resisting arrest laws and may help you avoid the consequences that stem from this offense.
Attorney Brian Gabriel has served the community of West Palm Beach for more than 30 years as a criminal defense attorney. He understands the complexities that are often involved in these cases and can help protect your reputation and future. After an arrest, you can be assured that you’re in good hands and that Attorney Brian Gabriel will fight for your rights. Call (561) 622-5575 or complete a contact form for a free consultation.