Resisting Arrest Charges in Jacksonville
Understanding Florida’s Statute Chapter 843
Chapter 843 of the Florida Statutes addresses the charge of resisting arrest. Section 843.02 outlines resisting arrest without violence, which is very common charge in Florida. Many times, this charge is added to other criminal charges for minor acts of twisting an arm as the person is being handcuffed or even arguing.
The definition of resisting arrest without violence under Section 843.02 of the Florida Statutes consists of resisting, obstructing, or opposing any law enforcement or probation officer or other person authorized to execute process without offering or doing violence on such authorized officer. Resisting without violence is a 1st degree misdemeanor, punishable by up to one year in jail and up to $1,000.00 fine.
The State must prove several elements in order to convict the defendant at trial:
- The defendant resisted;
- While the officer was lawfully detaining the defendant; and
- The defendant knew the person he or she resisted was an officer of the law.
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Resisting Arrest without Violence
Under Florida Statute 843.02 however, the issue many times is whether the defendant’s actions rose to the level of resistance. Minor acts such as tensing the arms while being cuffed, refusing to obey the commands of the officer trying to effectuate an arrest, providing false identification or information, and even fleeing are sufficient to constitute resistance. Flight alone is not resistance. The defendant must have knowingly defied an officer’s command to stop during a lawful execution of a legal duty.
Sometimes, words alone may be sufficient to constitute obstructive conduct when coupled with three different scenarios. These scenarios include situations where the officer in question is serving process, legally detaining a person, or asking for assistance. Speak to our Jacksonville criminal defense lawyers today to discuss your charge.
If you are arrested for resisting arrest without violence, please be aware that there may be defenses available:
- A crime of obstructing an officer without violence requires a showing that the officer was engaged in the lawful execution of a legal duty. Therefore, a defendant has a right to resist an arrest when the officer unlawfully detains or arrests the defendant without the requisite probable cause or reasonable suspicion.
- The law also permits an individual to defend himself against unlawful or excessive force, even when being arrested. This is founded on the notion that a person should be able to use reasonable resistance to protect life and limb that cannot be repaired in the courtroom.
- Any involuntary actions, such as unintentional reflexes, do not constitute resistance.
- If the conduct of the defendant was purely verbal, some First Amendment free speech defenses may also be worth arguing.
Resisting Arrest with Violence
The second type of resisting arrest is with violence. This crime is covered under Florida Statutes, Section 843.01 which defines a person resisting with violence if he or she knowingly and willfully resists, obstructs, or opposes any law enforcement, probation officer, or other person authorized to execute process during the execution of legal process or duty by offering or doing violence to the person performing the arrest.
Just like in the case of resisting arrest without violence, the State must prove certain elements in order to convict someone of resisting arrest with violence:
- The defendant must have resisted or opposed an officer while the officer was engaged in the execution of the legal process.
- The officer must have had legal authority to execute the process.
- The defendant used some sort of violence to obtain resistance.
- The defendant must have known that the person resisted was an officer or other person legally authorized to execute process.
If the prosecution can establish these elements beyond a reasonable doubt, the defendant is guilty of a third degree felony. A third degree felony is punishable by imprisonment of up to five years and a fine of up to $5,000.00.
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