Obstruction of Justice
Charged with Obstructing Justice in Tampa? Call Our Team!
Obstruction of justice is a legal term that describes all unlawful acts that people partake in to obstruct, hinder, or delay the administration of justice. This term applies to law enforcement, courts, judges, and the government. For example, if a person evades police who are trying to make an arrest, they can be charged. Additionally, a person that gives false testimony in court can be charged with perjury as well as obstruction of justice.
Examples of obstruction of justice include:
- Bribing witnesses
- Not reporting crimes
- Resisting arrest
- Contempt of court
- Aiding & abetting
- Threatening or intimidating jurors
This usually refers to the act of interference in any work that relates to:
- Police officers
- Federal agencies
- Other government officials
If you've been accused, call our Tampa criminal defense lawyers at (813) 321-7323 and find out what can be done to fight your obstruction of justice charges.
Florida Statutes Title XLVI, Chapter 843: Obstructing Justice
In the state of Florida, you can be arrested for obstructing justice and preventing the police from learning about a crime or a suspect. There are a variety of different ways that individuals can be arrested for this very crime.
According to Florida Statutes Title XLVI Chapter 843, it is considered an obstruction of justice to knowingly and willfully resist, obstruct, or oppose any officer when he or she is doing his or her duty.
If a person obstructs justice by apprehending a legal aide or supervisor employed by the Parole Commission, or opposes any administrative aide, this is considered illegal. Also, if a suspect resists any personnel, representatives of the Department of Law Enforcement, or any other person that is authorized to execute the legal process, it is a crime. Resisting or obstructing any of these parties can result in a third degree felony.
Individuals can also be charged with the obstruction of justice if they are in unlawful possession of a concealed handcuff key in order to aid in their escape from arrest. In addition, if criminals bring tools into a jail in order to aid an escape, or facilitate an escape in any way, then this is considered an obstruction of justice. The crime also encompasses cases where an individual deprives any law enforcement officer of means of protection or communication, such as a gun, Taser, or walkie-talkie.
It is illegal for any person to disguise him or herself with the intention to obstruct the due execution of the law. This includes falsely impersonating a police officer or refusing to aid a peace officer. If a person resists a timber agent or uses a police badge falsely, this can result in an obstruction of justice charge.
Other forms of obstruction of justice include criminal offenses against police dogs, firedogs, police horses, or SAR dogs, as well as depriving a crime victim of medical care. It could also include publishing the name and address of a law enforcement officer or attempting to flee from an officer.
Sometimes, individuals can be charged for harassing the participant of a neighborhood crime watch program, or for starting unauthorized transmissions and interfering with government associated radio frequencies. Using police communications for a non-law enforcement reasons is also illegal.
Resisting Arrest Charges in Tampa
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 or 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 trying to comply with the officer’s orders.
Slow to Respond to an Officer’s Commands
When confronted by the cops, people can feel stunned or shocked. As their brain is trying to process what’s happening, they may not be fully aware of what’s happening around them. It’s hard 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's obstruction of justice laws and when people usually find themselves facing these charges.
Resisting an Officer With & Without Violence
Resisting arrest is covered under Sections 843.01 and 843.02 of the Florida Statutes, which cover obstruction of justice. 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 5 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 arrest.
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.
Facing Obstruction of Justice Charges? We Can Help.
When facing obstruction of justice charges, it is extremely important for a person to consult a criminal defense attorney as soon as possible to start taking preventative measures against a conviction and heavy penalties. After a person has been charged with a crime such as obstruction of justice, it is important that they are informed of their rights and options. The best way people can become informed throughout the legal process is by retaining the services of a knowledgeable lawyer who can continually protect the client's best interests.
Have you been charged with an obstruction of justice in the Tampa area? Our team at Thomas & Paulk, P.A. is here to help. We have been fighting for clients across Florida for nearly 20 years, and we are committed to seeking the best result for every person we represent.
By working closely with the right attorney, you have the chance to avoid a conviction and the life-altering consequences this can have. Call (813) 321-7323 today!
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