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Resisting an Officer

Under Florida law, a person can be charged with resisting, opposing or obstructing an officer either with or without violence. For cases in Hillsborough County, Florida, the charge is often called "obstructing or opposing." Sometimes the charge is called "resisting arrest." Florida law provides for two different types of resisting charges:

  • Resisting an officer without violence is a misdemeanor; and
  • Resisting an officer with violence is a felony.

Important defenses exist in these cases because a person may resist an unlawful arrest as long as he or she does not use, or offer to use, violence. During a consensual encounter, a person can resist a law enforcement officers efforts to engage the person by refusing to identify him or herself, instruct others to do the same, or even walk away from the officer.

In many of these cases, the officer used excessive force and then charge the injured person with resisting in order to cover up the misconduct. Prosecutors are particularly aggressive in fighting for a conviction in a misguided attempt to support the officer. Proving the misconduct is particularly important in these cases to fight against an unjust prosecution.


Attorneys for "Resisting an Officer" Crimes in Tampa, FL

The attorneys at Sammis Law Firm represent clients charged with resisting an officer with or without violence throughout the Tampa Bay area. We have fought resisting charges in Hillsborough County and the surrounding counties of Hernando County, Pasco County, Pinellas County, and Polk County, Florida. 

Immediately after the arrest certain evidence needs to be collected and preserved including any video or audio surveillance tapes. Call us today at 813-250-0500 for a free and confidential consultation to discuss the facts of your case.


Resisting an Officer Without Violence

Florida Statute 843.02 prohibits resisting an officer without violence (sometimes called "RWOV" or "obstruction"). For cases in Hillsborough County, the clerk's office codes the offense as "84302-COPS1000 (MF) OBSTRUCTING OR OPPOSING AN OFFICER WITHOUT VIOLENCE under Florida Statute Section 843.02. Related charges including 901361-COPS2060 (MF) FALSE NAME TO LAW ENFORCEMENT OFFICER under Florida Statute Section 901.36(1).

This crime is a first-degree misdemeanor punishable by up to 12 months in jail and a $1,000 fine. Section 843.02, F.S., reads in pertinent part as follows:

“Whoever shall resist, obstruct, or oppose any [law enforcement] officer . . . , in the execution of legal process or in the lawful execution of any legal duty, without offering or doing violence to the person of the officer, shall be guilty of a misdemeanor of the first degree . . .”

Florida’s standard jury instructions for this charge were originally adopted in 1981 and subsequently amended in 1995 and 2008. The jury instructions provide that the prosecutor with the State Attorney’s Office must prove the following elements beyond all reasonable doubt:

  1. Defendant knowingly and willfully resisted, obstructed, or opposed the victim;
  2. At the time, the victim was a law enforcement officer;
  3. At the time, the victim was engaged in the lawful execution of a legal duty;
  4. At the time, Defendant knew the victim was a law enforcement officer.

The elements of the offense can also apply to a person legally authorized to execute service of process while engaged in the lawful execution of legal process when the defendant knew the victim was a person legally authorized to execute process. The term officer or law enforcement officer also applies to correctional officers and other designated officers.

The individuals protected by the statute include not only law enforcement officers but also and of the following types of officers:

  • a part-time or an auxiliary law enforcement officer;
  • a correctional officer;
  • a correctional probation officer;
  • a member of the Parole Commission or any administrative aide or supervisor employed by the commission;
  • a parole and probation supervisor;
  • a county probation officer; or
  • any personnel or representative of the Florida Department of Law Enforcement (FDLE).

It is a defense to the charge of resisting without violence when the officer is acting unlawfully at the time of the offense. That defense is found in Florida Statute Section §776.051(1). A defense also applies when the officer was using excessive force.


Felony Resisting an Officer With Violence

Florida law makes it a third-degree felony to knowingly and willfully resist, obstruct, or oppose any officer, including a law enforcement officer engaged in the lawful execution of any legal duty, by offering or doing violence to such legally authorized person. See § 843.01, Fla. Stat. The statute also applies to an alleged victim that is legally authorized to execute process while engaged in the execution of legal process.

The elements of resisting with violence include the following:

  1. knowingly resisting, obstructing, or opposing a law enforcement officer;
  2. in the lawful execution of any legal duty;
  3. by offering to do violence to his or her person; and
  4. the defendant has knowledge of the officer's status as an officer.

Thus, the charge becomes a third-degree felony under Florida Statute 843.01, when it is alleged that the person did all of the elements of the resisting without violence and also offering to do the officer violence or by actually doing violence to him or her. The term “offering to do violence” means threatening to do violence.

Related charges can including giving a false name to a law enforcement officer under Florida Statute Section 901.36 entitled “Prohibition against giving false name or false identification by a person arrested or lawfully detained.” Other related charges include Battery on a Law Enforcement Officer (LEO).


Additional Resources

Everything you’ve ever wanted to know about Florida Statute Section 843.02 - This article written by a State Attorney as legal news for law enforcement. The article discusses Florida Statute 843.02, for obstructing or opposing a law enforcement officer. Includes information on giving a False Name to Law Enforcement, and the application of these statutes to the various situations faced by police officers and law enforcement officers in the state of Florida.


Finding an Attorney for Obstructing or Opposing an Officer

If you were arresting for any crime related to resisting, obstructing or opposing a law enforcement officer then contact a criminal defense attorney at the Sammis Law Firm. We represent clients charged with these types of violent and non-violent charges violent and non-violent carges throughout Tampa and Plant City in Hillsborough County, St. Petersburg and Clearwater in Pinellas County, Lakeland and Bartow in Polk County, New Port Richey and Dade City in Pasco County, and Brooksville in Hernando County, FL.

Call our office to schedule a free and confidential consultation to discuss the charges pending against you.

Call 813-250-0500 today.


This article was last updated by on Friday, January 20, 2017.

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