Resisting Officer without Violence in Tampa, FL
Resisting an officer without violence, also known as resisting arrest, is a charge used by police and prosecutors to maintain authority and ensure arrests are peaceful. This statute is vigorously prosecuted, and it is essential if you have been charged to obtain experienced legal representation before making any statements or legal decisions.
If you or a loved one are facing resisting officer without violence charges in the Tampa, FL, area, call Armando Edmiston, an experienced Tampa resisting officer without violence criminal defense lawyer, today.
Resisting Officer without Violence: Definition in Tampa, FL
It is a crime in Florida to resist, obstruct or oppose a law enforcement officer while she is performing her legal duties. The officers covered by this crime include police, corrections and probation officers; members and employees of the Florida Parole Commission; parole and probation supervisors; and others authorized to execute legal processes. As long as the resistance does not involve the use or threat of violence against an officer, resisting an officer is a first-degree misdemeanor in Florida. This means it carries a maximum penalty of one year in jail. In order to prove resisting an officer without violence, prosecutors must prove three elements beyond a reasonable doubt. First, a prosecutor must prove a defendant resisted an officer. Unfortunately, very little resistance is required, and it is left up to officers’ discretion to decide what qualifies. Second, the prosecutor must prove the officer was engaged in a legal duty at the time of the resistance. Finally, the prosecutor must prove the officer was a police officer or other qualifying law enforcement officer.
Resisting Officer without Violence vs. with Violence in Tampa, FL
It is a more serious crime to knowingly and willfully resist an officer in the course of her duties by using or threatening violence against her. Resisting an officer with violence is a third-degree felony in Florida and carries a maximum possible sentence of five years in prison. By itself, a conviction for resisting an officer with violence carries no mandatory minimum sentence. But given the likelihood of companion charges (for whatever alleged crimes led to arrest) and the possibility of injuries to law enforcement officers, minimum sentences may be imposed in some cases. The difference between resisting with violence and resisting without violence can be as insignificant as an errant elbow or stomped foot.
Resisting Officer without Violence: Defenses in Tampa, FL
If an arrest is illegal or improper, resistance to it is defensible, but only if no force or threat of force is used. The state bears the burden of proving the arrest is lawful. Unlawful arrests are typically unlawful because police make them without probable cause, which is defined as a reasonable suspicion supported by circumstances strong enough to lead a cautious person to believe a suspect committed a crime. It is also a defense to resisting an officer without violence that a defendant did not know an officer was an officer. This will not succeed, however, if the officer reasonably appeared to be an officer. Another line of defense may be to argue that the officer was not performing a legal duty at the time. This may happen, for example, with a police officer working off-duty as a bouncer at a bar — unless the officer assumes the legal duties of a police officer by breaking up a fight or detaining a drunk driver, for example, in which case she is performing her legal duties.