Resisting a lawful arrest can result in serious charges whether violence is involved or not. If no violence occurred during the incident, you will still be charged with a misdemeanor regardless. The court will significantly increase the punishment if violence, however, does occur during the arrest. In that case, the defendant will instead face felony charges and time in prison.
The crime of resisting arrest is classified as an obstruction of justice, but it’s often directed towards juveniles and young adults. Many suspect juveniles are more likely to resist arrest as they don’t understand the full scale of their actions as they haven’t fully developed cognitively yet. No matter the circumstances, it can be incredibly difficult to fight a resisting arrest charge.
If you or someone you know has been charged with resisting arrest, we recommend you contact an experienced Clearwater criminal defense attorney today.
Resisting Arrest Attorney in St. Petersburg, FL
If your child has been arrested for Resisting an Officer With Violence or Resisting an Officer Without Violence in the Tampa Bay and St. Pete metropolitan area including Clearwater, Dunedin, Oldsmar, Largo, Pinellas Park and throughout the greater Pinellas County, Tampa, Hillsborough County area. Contact our experienced criminal defense attorneys in St. Petersburg by setting up your first consultation today.
Set up your first consultation by calling Morris Law Firm, P.A. at (727) 592-5885.
- Florida Statute for Resisting Arrest Without Violence
- Is Resisting Arrest a Felony in FL?
- Can You Resist an Unlawful Arrest in FL?
- Resisting Arrest is a Common Juvenile Offense
- Additional Resources
Florida Statute for Resisting Arrest Without Violence
Police officers are given added protections under Florida law while they are on active duty. In Florida if you resist an officer during an arrest you will be charged with resisting arrest without violence. This crime is a type of obstruction of justice, so the penalties upon conviction are nothing to take lightly. Florida law for resisting arrest can be found in the statutes section 843.02, which prohibits any person from resisting an officer without violence because you are willfully obstructing or opposing law enforcement while they are performing their duties.
Resisting arrest charges doesn’t only include standard police officers. You can also be charged with resisting arrest without violence if you obstructed or opposed any of the following people as they are actively performing their legal duties.
- Parole or probation supervisors;
- Employees of the Department of law enforcement;
- Correctional officers;
- Correctional probation officers;
- Part-time police officers;
- Auxiliary officers;
- Auxiliary correctional officers;
- County probation officers;
- Members of the Florida Commission on Offender Review;
- Administrative aides or supervisors employed by the commission;
- And any person who is legally authorized to execute process in the execution of legal process or in the lawful execution of their legal duties.
Resisting an Officer without violence is a first-degree misdemeanor, which is punishable by:
- Up to 12 months in jail; and
- A possible fine of up to $1,000
Is Resisting Arrest a Felony in Florida?
Typically, most people charged with resisting arrest will face a misdemeanor. However, Florida Statutes section 843.01 states it’s a felony offense if you resist, obstruct, or oppose law enforcement while they are actively working by using or threatening to use violence. The law states that only one count of resisting an officer with violence can be imposed even if several officers were involved in the same incident.
To prove the defendant is guilty of resisting arrest with violence, the state must prove:
- That the defendant knowingly and willfully resisted, opposed, or obstructed the officer by offering to do him or her violence or by actually inflicting violence against them;
- During the commission of the crime, the officer was engaged in their legal duties;
- At the time of the offense, the officer was legally authorized to arrest the person; and
- The defendant knew the person was a police officer and was legally authorized to arrest the defendant based on their actions.
Resisting an officer with violence is a third-degree felony in Florida which can result in:
- Up to 5 years in prison; and
- A fine of up to $5,0000
What Qualifies as Resisting Arrest?
An arrest can be obstructed, opposed, or resisted in various ways, but even the most minor action can be considered resisting. That is because these instances are often carefully recorded by dash or body cams. That means the court will have footage of you “resisting” and may dissect even the smallest movements to be seen as opposition or an obstruction of justice. For example, if an officer approached another person under arrest and that person stepped back slightly, that could be seen as resisting without violence.
Other instances that could result in a charge for resisting an officer without violence includes:
- Tensing arms while being handcuffed;
- Concealing evidence;
- Evading police when there is suspicion of criminal wrongdoing;
- Willfully disobeying verbal commands;
- Refusing to sit down;
- Evading the handcuffs or refusing to be handcuffed;
- Giving false or misleading information; or
- Acting as a “look out” to stop an impending arrest
Some examples of resisting an officer with violence in Florida includes, but are not limited to:
- Physically pulling away or struggling with the officer;
- Fighting physically with the officer using hands or feet;
- Kicking, punching or swinging at the officer; or
- Attempting to bite or biting an officer.
Can You Resist an Unlawful Arrest in Florida?
The use of excessive force by law enforcement is a hot button topic in both social situations and politically. Although in some instances excessive force is a civil rights violation, for resisting arrest reasonable or excessive force is allowed and recommended if the defendant is attempting to flee or resist their arrest. While making an arrest in Florida, officers are justified to use any force they believe is reasonably necessary to defend themselves or the public.
Even if the arrest is unlawful, you could still face resisting arrest charges despite the officer’s illegal actions. That is why it’s incredibly important you secure legal representation as soon as possible if you’ve been charged with resisting an arrest with or without violence.
Resisting Arrest is a Common Juvenile Offense
Resisting Arrest charges are all too common with Juveniles. Many minors do not realize that if they are going to be arrested, it is advisable to cooperate with the officers. Immaturity, the gravity of the situation, and heightened emotions can often lead Juveniles to unwittingly Resist Arrest. Additionally, Juveniles are frequently arrested while under the influence of alcohol or drugs which make them more likely to Resist Arrest.
Unfortunately, many Juveniles do not realize that even if their original charge is dismissed, they could still face the Resisting Arrest charge which can end up on their permanent criminal record. Juveniles often Resist Arrest when they feel they are being arrested for what is in their mind an unjustified charge. They then compound their problems by Resisting Arrest With Violence, not fully understanding the consequences, which enhances the charges.
Juvenile cases are highly situational, and while Resisting Arrest is never advisable, there are sometimes potential defenses that may be used to reduce the charges.
Witness accounts, statements from the defendant, and mistakes by law enforcement in their execution of legal duty may be utilized to challenge a Resisting Arrest charge.
National Police Accountability Project | NPAP – Visit the official website for NPAP or the National Police Accountability Project (NPAP), a non-profit whose mission is to protect human and civil rights for people who have encountered police brutality. Access the site to learn more about the project’s objectives, police brutality statistics in Florida, and other relevant information that may help you.
Resisting Arrest Laws in Florida – Visit the official website for the Florida Statutes to learn more about their laws on obstruction of justice and specifically resisting arrest. Access the site to learn what happens if you resist an officer, help another person to escape the authorities, tamper with evidence or witnesses, and other related obstruction crimes.
Defense Attorney for Resisting Arrest in Pinellas County, FL
If your child has been arrested for Resisting Arrest, contact a St. Petersburg juvenile defense attorney to discuss possible defenses and specific strategies that may exist in your case.
Call the Morris Law Firm at (727) 592-5885 to discuss your case directly with an Pinellas County resisting arrest attorney, or fill out our Online Form to be contacted for a Free Initial Consultation. The Morris Law Firm, P.A. can help and has specific knowledge and experience in defending both adult and juvenile offenders throughout the greater Pinellas County area including Oldsmar, Dunedin, Largo, Tarpon Springs, St. Pete, and Pinellas Park.
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Melinda Morris has practiced criminal law for over 20 years. Our clients trust advice that comes from experience in nearly every type of criminal case.
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