An officer walks up to you and tells you she has a reasonable belief that you have drugs on your person. You allow her to search your pockets and she comes up with cocaine. She places you in handcuffs but when she asks you to sit on the sidewalk while she calls another officer, you refuse. She tells you again to sit on the sidewalk and you once again refuse. Regardless of your intentions on why you do not want to sit on the sidewalk, the officer charges you with possession of cocaine and resisting arrest without violence.
Law enforcement officers have protections strictly enforced regarding how individuals will react when getting arrested. Because officers are placed in unknown danger when arresting an individual, not knowing how a person will respond when stopped, questioned, or placed in handcuffs, Florida created Statutes 843.01 and 843.02 to provide definitions and legal convictions should you be charged with resisting arrest without violence or with violence.
Under Florida Statute 843.02, resisting an officer without violence examples include: not obeying commands, refusing to be placed in handcuffs, refusing to sit on the ground when asked, or trying to escape being arrested. Even verbal actions, such as warning another person so they are not arrested are considered grounds for charging you with resisting arrest. If charged with resisting without violence, that constitutes a 1st-degree misdemeanor, resulting in jail time or probation for up to 1 year and a fine of up to $1,000.00.
Under Florida Statute 843.01, resisting an officer with violence examples include threatening the officer that you will hit them or struggling forcefully when an officer is placing you under arrest. If charged with resisting arrest with violence, that constitutes a 3rd-degree felony, resulting in prison time or probation for up to five years and a fine of up to $5,000.00. You can only be charged with this if the officer is currently in the process of arresting you and putting you in handcuffs.
Prosecution must prove, beyond a reasonable doubt, that you can be convicted of resisting arrest without violence. Requirements include 1) you resisted a law enforcement officer, 2) the officer had the legal authority to arrest you, meaning they were on duty when the arrest occurred, 3) you knew the officer had the authorization to arrest you, and 4) the officer had the legal duty to arrest you, meaning you were breaking the law and the officer was performing their job. Resisting arrest with violence follows the same requirements, except for 1) you resisted a law enforcement officer while threatening or committing a violent act while the officer is in the process of arresting you.
An officer claiming you were resisting arrest can be argued. Resisting arrest without or with violence is surprisingly common, but there are also many defenses to consider, depending on the situation. Arguments have been made in previous court cases that an officer is not in their uniform and you were not aware the person was law enforcement; the officer may not have identified themselves when arresting you and you believe you are being attacked so you defend yourself; the officer may be in the process of arresting you and you squirm or clench up because you are freaking out or because the handcuffs are uncomfortable; or, the officer may be performing an illegal search and seizure and you refuse to cooperate.
However, the defenses you can use must be properly handled and argued. While you may think just explaining the situation will get the resisting charge dropped, once again those protections and statutes are enforced for a reason. Call the Law Office of Adams & Luka today to get an experienced attorney on your side who can argue your defenses.