Resisting Officer with Violence in Florida

Florida vigorously prosecutes people alleged to have acted violently towards law enforcement officers.

The crime of Resisting Officer with Violence imposes heightened penalties on civilians who violently resist officers who are carrying out their public duties.

And unlike the crime of Resisting Officer Without Violence, it is not a defense that the officer's arrest was subsequently determined to be unlawful.

If accused of Resisting Officer with Violence, you need to know the:

Definition of Resisting Officer with Violence

Under Florida Statute 843.01, the crime of Resisting Officer with Violence is committed when a person knowingly and willfully resists, obstructs, or opposes a law enforcement officer by threatening violence or engaging in violent conduct against the law enforcement officer was engaged in the lawful execution of a legal duty.

Law Enforcement Officer

The term law enforcement officer includes a police officer, deputy sheriff, correctional officer, probation officer, or a person legally authorized to execute process (i.e. subpoenas or warrants).

Penalties for Resisting Officer with Violence

The crime of resisting an Officer with Violence is classified as a Third Degree Felony and is assigned a Level 5 offense severity ranking under Florida's Criminal Punishment Code.

If convicted of Resisting an Officer with Violence, a judge can impose any combination of the following penalties:

  • Up to five (5) years in prison.
  • Up to five (5) years of probation.
  • Up to $5,000 in fines.

Defenses to Resisting Officer with Violence

In addition to the pretrial defenses and trial defenses that can be raised in any criminal case, specific defenses to the crime of Resisting Officer with Violence are:

  1. "On the Job",
  2. Self Defense, or
  3. Officer's Status Unknown

On The Job

A conviction for Resisting Officer with Violence requires proof that the officer was “engaged in the performance of a lawful duty when the resisting occurred,” not just “on the job.” [1]

This requirement means that even if a uniformed law enforcement officer is working off duty for a bar, convenience store, as mall security, or for any private employer, they are merely “on the job” for the private employer and are not afforded enhanced protection under the statute. [2]

However, if while working for a private employer, they become engaged in “activities of an official police nature,” such as breaking up a fight, escorting a trespasser of the premises, or arresting someone, a person who then batters the officer is subject to being convicted of Battery on a Law Enforcement Officer.

Self Defense

While a person cannot use violence to resist an arrest, even an unalwful arrest, a person may use reasonable force to resist the use of excessive force conducted during the arrest.

However, apart from an arrest scenario, a person is authorized to use reasonable force to defend themselves against other unlawful actions committed by law enforcement officers. [3]

Examples of unlawful actions that a person may defend against are:

  • Unlawfully entering a private home;
  • Unlawfully frisking a person; or
  • Unlawfully detaining someone.

Nevertheless, regardless of whether an officer is engaged in unlawful activity, a person who uses force against an officer does so at his own risk; as the State Attorney's Office will usually err on the side of the law enforcement officer when filing charges.

Excessive Force

If an officer uses excessive force when making an arrest, a person is justified in the use of reasonable force to defend himself or herself.

Additionally, the danger of excessive force or police brutality need not have been actual to justify a self-defense claim. In such instances, you are allowed to defend yourself if the appearance of excessive force or police brutality appeared to be imminent.

However, a person can only defend themselves to the extent reasonably believed that such force was necessary. And the determination of whether the resistance with violence was justified is based upon the circumstances at the time.

Officer's Status Unknown

While a person is not justified in using force to resist a police officer who is "known, or reasonably appears to be a law enforcement officer." A person accused of Battery on Law Enforcement Officer must have reason to know that the "victim" was actually an officer and not someone impersonating an officer. [4]

Contact Criminal Defense Lawyer Richard Hornsby

If you have been arrested or charged with the crime of Resisting Officer with Violence in Central Florida or the Greater Orlando area, contact Criminal Defense Lawyer today.

The initial consultation is free and I am always available to advise you on the proper course of action that can be taken.

References

  1. Nicolosi v State, 783 So. 2d 1095 (Fla. 5th DCA 2001).
  2. Bryan v. State, 865 So. 2d 677 (Fla. 4th DCA 2004)
  3. Tillman v. State, 934 So. 2d 1263 (Fla. 2006)
  4. Polite v. State, 973 So. 2d 1107 (Fla. 2007)