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Facing Resisting Arrest Charges?
If you find yourself in a situation where you might be charged with resisting arrest in the State of Florida, it is crucial to understand what the law says and the consequences you could face. Resisting arrest can come in various forms and is not limited to physical resistance. The following information concerns Florida Statutes 843.01 and 843.02, which deal with resisting, obstructing, or opposing law enforcement officers, among others.
Florida Statute 843.01: Resisting Arrest With Violence
Florida Statute 843.01 discusses the act of willfully and knowingly obstructing, resisting, or opposing an officer or other legally authorized persons by doing or offering violence. The persons covered under this statute include various types of officers, members of the Florida Commission on Offender Review, and other legally authorized individuals like parole and probation supervisors.
What Constitutes 'Violence'?
The term 'violence' here refers to physical acts that could cause harm to the individual involved in the legal process. It's not limited to punching or hitting but can include pushing or any other action that poses a physical threat.
Violation of this statute is a 3rd-degree felony. If convicted, you could face penalties. This could mean imprisonment for up to 5 years, fines, or both.
Florida Statute 843.02: Resisting Arrest Without Violence
Unlike the previous statute, Florida Statute 843.02 focuses on those who resist, obstruct, or oppose any officer or legally authorized person without offering or doing violence.
What Does 'Without Violence' Mean?
In this context, 'without violence' could mean actions such as refusing to comply with an officer's orders, fleeing, or hiding. There is no physical harm inflicted upon the officer, but the act still constitutes resistance.
If found guilty under this statute, you will be charged with a misdemeanor of the first degree. This could mean up to one year in jail, a fine, or both.
Resisting Canines And Horses
Interestingly, Florida law also protects police canines and horses. If you resist, obstruct, or oppose a police canine or horse while they are performing their duties in tandem with an officer or legally authorized person, you can be charged with a third-degree felony as per Florida Statute 843.01.
Defenses To Charges Of Resisting Arrest In Florida
Lack Of Knowledge Or Intent
Both Florida Statutes 843.01 and 843.02 use the terms "knowingly and willfully" in describing the actions of the person who is resisting, obstructing, or opposing an officer. If you can demonstrate that your actions were not done knowingly and willfully, this could be a strong defense.
Example In Context
For instance, if you were disoriented due to a medical condition or a prescribed medication and did not fully understand your actions at the time, this could undermine the prosecution’s claim that you acted "knowingly and willfully."
Invalid Arrest Or Excessive Force
The arrest itself has to be legal for the charge of resisting arrest to hold. If the arresting officer did not have probable cause for the initial arrest, any subsequent charges related to resisting that arrest may be invalidated.
Example In Context
Suppose you were arrested without a valid reason, and you resisted the arrest because you knew you had done nothing wrong. If the initial arrest is proven to be invalid, your charges for resisting arrest may be dropped.
Moreover, if the officer used excessive force during the arrest, you might have acted out of self-defense. In such cases, the use of force on your part may be justified.
Ambiguity In The Situation
If there was substantial ambiguity in the situation, like confusion or chaos, it might be challenging for the prosecution to prove that you "knowingly and willfully" resisted an officer.
Example In Context
Imagine a scenario where you are part of a large crowd, and police begin making arrests. If you didn’t hear or see the officer’s commands due to the noise and confusion, you may have a valid defense in stating that you didn’t knowingly resist arrest.
Resisting A Non-Officer
Florida Statutes 843.01 and 843.02 specifically list the types of officers and legally authorized persons to whom these laws apply. If the person you're accused of resisting doesn't fall under these categories, then you may not be guilty under these statutes.
Example In Context
If someone was impersonating an officer and you resisted arrest, you can't be charged under these statutes as the person was not legally authorized to make an arrest.
Frequently Asked Questions About Resisting Arrest In Florida
What Is The Difference Between Resisting Arrest With Violence And Without Violence?
Resisting arrest "with violence" refers to cases where you willfully and knowingly resist an officer or another legally authorized person by using physical force or violence. It is considered a third-degree felony under Florida Statute 843.01.
On the other hand, resisting arrest "without violence" refers to obstructing or opposing an officer without using physical force. This is covered under Florida Statute 843.02 and is considered a first-degree misdemeanor.
Can I Be Charged For Resisting Arrest If The Arrest Itself Was Unlawful?
If the initial arrest was unlawful or not based on probable cause, this could potentially serve as a defense against a charge of resisting arrest. However, this is a complex area of law, and it's advisable to consult an attorney to discuss the specifics of your case.
What Kind Of Penalties Can I Expect If Convicted?
For a third-degree felony under Florida Statute 843.01, you could face up to 5 years in prison, a fine, or both.
If convicted under Florida Statute 843.02, a first-degree misdemeanor, you could face up to 1 year in jail, a fine, or both.
Do These Laws Also Cover Resisting Police Animals?
Yes, Florida law also includes resisting a police canine or horse that is working at the direction of or in tandem with an officer. This is also considered a third-degree felony.
Can I Still Be Charged If I Did Not Know The Person, I Was Resisting Was An Officer?
Both statutes specify that the resistance must be "knowingly and willfully" done. If you genuinely did not know that the individual was an officer or another legally authorized person, this might serve as a defense. However, the prosecution could argue that there were sufficient indicators to reasonably conclude the individual was an officer.
What Can I Do If I’m Charged Under These Statutes?
The first and most crucial step is to consult an experienced criminal defense attorney who is well-versed in Florida law. They can assess the details of your case, advise you on the optimal course of action, and help you mount a robust defense.
Navigate Your Future With A Trusted Criminal Defense Attorney
Legal challenges can be complex and daunting, but you don't have to face them alone. At The Watson Firm, PLLC, we focus on criminal defense. Our resisting arrest lawyers are committed to fighting for your constitutional rights and to secure the most favorable outcome for your legal matter. Don't let uncertainty cloud your judgment. Make the right choice today by contacting us for a consultation. Reach us at (850) 607-2929 or fill out our form online to discuss your options with a qualified lawyer.
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