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Resisting an Officer

Resisting an officer in Florida can result in high penalties, especially if the resistance is considered ‘violent’. You can also be charged if you are deemed to be obstructing or opposing an officer. There are two resisting classifications in Florida:

  1. Resisting an officer without violence
  2. Resisting an officer with violence

Depending on which you are charged with, the penalties can range from burdensome to extremely severe.

Resisting an Officer Without Violence

Resisting an officer without violence to their person is codified under Section 843.02 of the Florida Statutes. The statute provides that whoever resists, obstructs, or opposes:

  • an officer as defined in Section 943.10(1), (2), (3), (6), (7), (8), or (9);
    • a law enforcement officer
    • a correctional officer
    • a correctional probation officer
    • a part-time law enforcement officer
    • a part-time correctional officer
    • an auxiliary law enforcement officer
    • an auxiliary correctional officer
  • a member of the Florida Commission on Offender Review;
  • any administrative aide or supervisor employed by the commission;
  • a county probation officer;
  • a parole or probation supervisor;
  • the personnel or representative of the Department of Law Enforcement; or
  • another person legally authorized to execute process

without offering or doing violence to the individual shall be guilty of a first-degree misdemeanor offense.

Resisting an Officer Without Violence Penalties

This first-degree misdemeanor offense is punishable by:

  • up to twelve (12) months in jail,
  • up to twelve (12) months of probation or community control, and
  • a one-thousand-dollar ($1,000) fine.

What Does the State Need to Prove for a Resisting Without Violence Charge?

In order for the State to prove this offense at trial, each of these elements must be shown to exist beyond a reasonable doubt:

  1. The defendant knowingly and willfully resisted, obstructed, or opposed the individual;
  2. The individual was a law enforcement officer protected under the statute;
  3. The individual was engaged in their lawful law enforcement duties; and
  4. The defendant had knowledge that the individual was a law enforcement officer.

Resisting an Officer With Violence

Resisting an officer with violence to their person is codified in Section 843.01 of the Florida Statutes. The statute provides that whoever knowingly and willfully resists, obstructs, or imposes:

  • an officer as defined in Section 943.10(1), (2), (3), (6), (7), (8), or (9);
    • a law enforcement officer
    • a correctional officer
    • a correctional probation officer
    • a part-time law enforcement officer
    • a part-time correctional officer
    • an auxiliary law enforcement officer
    • an auxiliary correctional officer
  • a member of the Florida Commission on Offender Review;
  • any administrative aide or supervisor employed by the commission;
  • a county probation officer;
  • a parole or probation supervisor;
  • the personnel or representative of the Department of Law Enforcement; or
  • another person legally authorized to execute process

by offering or doing violence to the person is guilty of a third-degree felony offense.

Resisting With Violence Penalties

The third-degree felony offense is punishable by:

  • up to five (5) years in prison,
  • up to five (5) years of probation or community control, and
  • a five-thousand-dollar ($5,000) fine.

What Does the State Need to Prove for a Resisting With Violence Charge?

In order for the State to prove this offense at trial, each of these elements must be shown to exist beyond a reasonable doubt:

  1. The defendant knowingly resisted, obstructed, or opposed an individual;
  2. The individual was a law enforcement officer protected under the statute;
  3. The individual was engaged in the lawful execution of their law enforcement duties;
  4. The defendant offered or did violence to their person; and
  5. The defendant had knowledge that the individual was a law enforcement officer.

Resisting an Officer Defenses

The State must prove that the officer was “engaged in the performance of a lawful duty when the resisting occurred,” and not just “on the job.” This means that if an officer is working “off duty” for a private employer and are just “on the job” for that private employer, they are not protected under the statute. But, if they are working for a private employer and they start doing “activities of an official police nature,” like keeping the peace, engaging with trespassers, arresting individuals, etc., someone who resists them physically can be charged with Battery of a Law Enforcement Officer.

The State must prove that the defendant knew of the individual’s designation as a law enforcement officer. If the defendant did not know that the individual was a law enforcement officer, or thought it was someone impersonating a law enforcement officer, their lack of knowledge could provide for a defense.

An individual is free to use reasonable force if they must resist excessive force used by officers during an arrest. If the individual is not being arrested, they can still use reasonable force to protect themselves from any other unlawful actions committed by law enforcement officers, like Fourth Amendment violations.

Tallahassee Criminal Defense Attorney

If you or a loved one has been charged with Resisting an Officer With or Without Violence, you should contact a knowledgeable and experienced Tallahassee criminal defense attorney immediately. These charges can carry severe and life-long penalties. Don Pumphrey and the members of the legal team at Pumphrey Law Firm have decades of experience in criminal defense and can ensure that your case will be handled with diligence. Call us today at (850) 681-7777 or send an online message today to discuss your case during an open and free consultation with an attorney in our legal team.

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