As an American, you have the right to go about any daily activities without being stopped by the police. According to Florida state law, if any officers on active duty are attempting to stop a crime from happening or prevent bodily harm to themselves or another person, they have the authority to make an arrest. Resisting arrest with violence or without violence can earn you a conviction.
If you or a loved one is facing charges of resisting arrest with violence or resisting arrest without violence, one of the first things you absolutely must do is retain the services of an expert attorney who is aware of the nuances of Florida state law and can help you.
An Orlando criminal lawyer at Smith & Eulo advises, not obeying the lawful command of an officer on duty can earn you a misdemeanor or felony offense charge depending on the situation.
It is best that you retain professional representation to understand the nuances of the law and defense for which you’re entitled.
Here are a few basics of Florida law that you want to know about.
Understanding Resisting Arrest Without Violence
Check out this article on FindLaw that explains how Florida state laws make the clear distinction between “Resisting Arrest Without Violence” and “Resisting Arrest With Violence.”
The law states that if you oppose, resist, or prevent a legally authorized person from executing a legal process, you’re guilty of a misdemeanor in the first degree. Since the law does not properly define what includes and does not include resisting arrest, oftentimes, defendants are found guilty of charges such as:
- · Not leaving the area when asked to by a police officer
- · Not stopping and walking away when the police asks you to stop
- · Not obeying commands given by a law officer
- · Evading law officers when they have reasonable doubt of criminal activity
- · Hiding any evidence
- · Giving inaccurate or misleading information when asked during a lawful arrest
- · Refusing to give proper identification or giving out the wrong name
- · Not sitting down or not standing up right away when asked to
- · Hampering a police investigation in progress
- · Acting as a lookout and enabling a suspect to avoid getting arrested
- · Resisting arrest by refusing to be handcuffed or evading getting handcuffed
- · Resisting detention by tensing the arms
- · Going limp or falling to the ground so that the officers cannot arrest you
Penalties for Resisting Without Violence Can Depend on Past Records
Do keep in mind that Florida state law awards penalties for first-degree misdemeanor such as a one-year prison term and $1,000 fine. This penalty is in addition to the primary charge for which you were arrested in the first place. Many offenders who have been charged for the first time get a permanent criminal record. You could also get a probation term for 6 months to 12 months.
Depending on the behavior of the accused, even first-time charges can result in a one-year jail term. But, in case you have a criminal history or resisted arrest in the past, the penalties could include longer prison terms just as this feature on HG.org outlines.
Understanding Resisting Arrest With Violence
In case of resisting arrest with violence, you could earn penalties for felony of the third degree. If you’ve verbally resisted getting arrested by say, arguing or using abusive language, you’ll incur a one-year jail term. In addition to paying $5,000 in fines, you could earn a jail term of a maximum of 5 years, if you physically fought off the arresting officers. Any kind of violent behavior including striking, kicking, punching, and hitting the police can result in a felony charge.
Threatening an officer of the law with violence is also a punishable felony. Defendants can get more severe sentences if they caused bodily harm to the officer and used weapons when resisting arrest. Of course, there are several exceptions to this rule and the courts may accept that you have a valid defense.
- · If the officers were forcefully entering your home without a valid warrant
- · If the officers were frisking you without probable cause
- · If you suspected the officers may use brutality or excessive force
You Can Rely on the Expertise of the Attorney
Each incident of resisting arrest is unique. An expert lawyer will understand the special circumstances and defend your case accordingly. For instance,
- · You did not know that the arresting officer was a policeman or he was dressed in plain clothes.
- · Your attorney could also argue that the officer was working undercover or perhaps, using an unmarked car.
- · The courts may accept your defense that you were merely asking the police to explain the reason for the arrest and the suspected crime.
- · Rest assured that you cannot be convicted if the officers did not have a lawful reason to accost or detain you. Simply stopping you does not mean that you’re under arrest. For the resisting arrest charge to apply, the police should place you under arrest for a valid crime.
- · Involuntary reactions that include tensing up to avoid the pain of getting handcuffed or to prevent injury are also acceptable as exceptions.
Keep in mind that having a permanent mark can lower your chances of getting certain jobs and affect your entire future. Your lawyer will focus on the smallest details and work out how to get the charges dropped.
Florida state laws take charges of resisting arrest very seriously, but if you aren’t at fault, an aggressive defense is essential for arguing your side of the situation and making the accusations go away.