The Law of Obstructing or Resisting Law Enforcement in Florida

There are several obstructing and resisting law enforcement statutes in the State of Florida; Something as simple as a failure to sign a traffic citation could trigger a criminal prosecution. This article outlines various behaviors related to obstructing and resisting law enforcement that the State of Florida has criminalized.

Resisting an Officer

When people hear that someone has been charged with resisting an officer, they usually picture someone tussling with police to avoid being handcuffed. However, Florida law has a variety of statutes that classify different behaviors – both violent and nonviolent – as resisting an officer. The resisting an officer charge can be a felony or a misdemeanor, depending on the circumstances involved with each arrest or attempted arrest.

  1. Resisting an Officer With Violence-If the arrestee resists, obstructs or opposes a law enforcement officer by doing violence while the officer is executing a legal duty, he or she faces third-degree felony charges.
  2. Resisting an Officer Without Violence– If the arrestee resists, obstructs or opposes an officer while the officer is executing a legal duty, they face a first-degree misdemeanor. This often involves someone running from the police, or someone not following an officer’s directions.

Giving False Information – when someone knowingly or willingly gives false info to law enforcement concerning a felony criminal investigation or a missing person investigation they may face a first-degree misdemeanor.

Giving False Identification or False Info when Arrested – it is a first-degree misdemeanor to give a fake name or give the officer a fake ID when you are being arrested. You face a third-degree felony and restitution fines if you claim another person’s identity when being arrested and it negatively affects that person.

Failure to obey a lawful command – this statute applies typically to traffic-related offenses. It’s a second degree misdemeanor to willfully fail or refuse to comply with a lawful order or direction of any law enforcement officer.

Failure to sign a traffic citation – signing a traffic citation is not an admission of guilt. Any person who refuses to accept and sign a traffic citation can be charged in criminal court. Failure to sign a citation is a second degree misdemeanor.

As you can see, prosecutors in Florida have a variety of different charges they can bring involving the resisting of arrest. Prosecutors usually make the call on what specific charges to bring after reviewing evidence such as the police report, witness accounts, injuries sustained by law enforcement and any dash-cam video footage that recorded the incident.

Dealing with the Charges: Your Defense

Even if you are facing misdemeanor charges for resisting an officer, it is crucial to contact a Florida criminal defense attorney. A skilled lawyer can develop defense strategies for the charges you face.

Any resisting arrest charges can have serious consequences for the accused. Do not hesitate to contact an experienced defense lawyer to confidentially discuss your situation.