What Qualifies as Resisting Arrest?

Being detained by police and facing an arrest is a serious, stressful situation. In these circumstances, it may seem natural to flee, resist being handcuffed, or refuse to leave the scene and enter a patrol car. However, such actions may lead to resisting arrest charges, which come with harsher penalties than the original charges you faced. Here is what you need to know about resisting arrest in Florida.

What Does it Mean to Resist Arrest?

 According to Florida Statute 843, resisting arrest is when someone obstructs, resists, or opposes a police officer or other authorized member of law enforcement from executing a legal duty. An authorized member of law enforcement includes probation/parole officers and law enforcement representatives. Resisting arrest charges are considered part of obstructing justice. In most cases, resisting arrest is made in conjunction with other charges.

What Qualifies as Resisting Arrest?

Resisting arrest charges fall into two primary categories in Florida: resisting an officer without violence and resisting an officer with violence. Each charge carries different penalties depending on your previous criminal record.

Resisting an Officer Without Violence

Resisting an officer without violence is stated in Florida Statute 843.02. It is defined as opposing or resisting an officer “without offering or doing violence.” Examples of resisting arrest without violence include:

  • Running away after being detained.
  • Verbally refusing arrest.
  • Refusing to obey verbal commands.
  • Providing false or misleading information.
  • Interfering with a police investigation.
  • Acting as a “lookout,” i.e., warning someone breaking the law to prevent a lawful arrest.

It is a first-degree misdemeanor to resist an officer without violence. If convicted, you could face up to one year in jail or 12-month probation, depending on prior convictions. You could also be required to pay a $1,000 fine.

Resisting an Officer with Violence

Resisting an officer with violence means that you displayed an act of physical force that prevented officers from executing their legal duties. This could include kicking, hitting, slapping, or attempting to break free from officer detainment. This charge is a third-degree felony and may be punishable with up to five years in jail and up to a $5,000 fine.

Defending Resisting Arrest Charges

To be convicted of resisting arrest, the prosecution must prove that several elements were in play. First, the officer must have been in the act of executing a legal duty. The officer must have been in the active process of detaining or arresting an individual for a crime, not merely performing on-the-job responsibilities. You must also know that you were actively resisting arrest. You must have been aware that the officer was a member of law enforcement. Proving whether you knew the officer was a legal member of law enforcement may be challenging if the officer was off-duty, working undercover, or in an unmarked police vehicle.

What To Do if You Are Charged with Resisting Arrest

Being convicted of resisting arrest can lead to harsher sentencing when facing other charges. In addition, pretrial intervention options are limited when charged with resisting arrest, leaving you to either go through litigation or enter a plea deal. Navigating these types of charges can be difficult. If you or a loved one are in this situation, it is important to contact an experienced criminal defense attorney like Alison M. Lopes to discuss your case. Call our office at 407-442-2724 for a consultation. We serve residents of Orlando, Orange County, and Central Florida.