You’ve probably seen an actor be accused of “resisting arrest” when watching a crime show or action movie. In such depictions, usually a man or woman is belligerent, and struggles with the officer when they try to arrest the suspect.
Resisting arrest in reality, can be tricky. Some officers use it as a catchall for the slightest hesitation, delay, or resistance on behalf of the accused. If someone doesn’t put their hands up in the air fast enough, or if they don’t let the officer slap handcuffs on them fast enough, suddenly the officer shouts, “I’m going to get you for resisting arrest!” even though the suspect was complying with the officer’s orders.
Slow to Respond to an Officer’s Commands
When confronted by the cops, people can feel stunned, almost shocked. As their brain is trying to process what’s happening, they may not be exactly attune to what’s happening around them. It’s hard for some people to believe, but if they don’t respond fast enough to an officer’s commands, they can find themselves facing charges for resisting arrest, even if the officer wasn’t in the process of arresting them.
However, this doesn’t mean that every time you are too slow to follow an officer’s commands, the state will charge you with resisting arrest, but it can happen under unreasonable circumstances. Let’s take a closer look at resisting arrest under Florida law and when people usually find themselves facing these charges.
Resisting an Officer With and Without Violence
Resisting arrest is covered under Sections 843.01and 843.02of the Florida Statutes. This crime is broken down to two offenses: resisting an arrest with violence against the officer and resisting arrest without violence against the officer.
Under Sec. 843.01, whenever someone “willfully resists, obstructs, or opposes any officer” while the officer is performing their legal duty and the individual uses violence, he or she is guilty of a felony of the third degree, punishable by up to five years in prison and by a fine not to exceed $5,000. Can you imagine going to prison for five years because you throw a punch in a heat of passion? It happens.
Under Sec. 843.02, whenever someone willfully obstructs, resists, or opposes an officer while he or she is executing their legal duty, but without violence, the individual is guilty of a misdemeanor in the first degree, punishable by up to one year in jail and by a fine not to exceed $1,000.
Examples of Resisting Arrest
When people resist arrest, they’ve generally done something to obstruct, resist, or oppose a law enforcement officer as they try to perform their duties. So, to be clear, the officer does not have to be in the process of executing an arrest for someone to be charged with resisting an arrest with or without violence.
Ways that you can resist an arrest without violence:
- Struggling while an officer is trying to arrest you.
- Running away from an officer who is trying to question you.
- Lying to the officer about who you are.
- Yelling at an officer and making it difficult for them to arrest you.
- Refusing an officer’s orders to put up your hands, get on the ground, lean against a car, or turn around so an officer can place handcuffs on you.
Ways someone can resist an arrest with violence:
- Spitting on an officer while he or she tries to make an arrest.
- Hitting, punching, or kicking an officer while they try to initiate an arrest.
- Headbutting an officer while he or she tries to make an arrest.
- Drawing a knife or a handgun on an officer as they attempt an arrest.
- Attempting to hit an arresting officer with a hard object.
- Pushing or shoving an officer while they try to make an arrest.
As we touched on above, in Florida, resisting arrest is a Class A misdemeanor or a third-degree felony depending if the defendant used violence against the arresting officer or not. If you are being accused of resisting arrest, we’ll want to know if the arresting officer was wearing a body camera, because if there is footage it may be valuable to your case.
Unfortunately, Tampa police officers were recently accused of turning off body cameras and in effect, losing valuable evidence, but since there has been so much media attention, hopefully, this won’t occur in the future.
Contact our Brandon criminal defense firm if you’re facing criminal charges for resisting arrest. All of our initial consultations are free.