According to Florida Statute 843.01, it is illegal to willfully and knowingly oppose, obstruct, or resist any law enforcement officer by being violent or offering to commit violence. Resisting arrest with violence is a third degree felony charge punishable with up to five years jail time, up to $5,000 fine, or a combination of both penalties.
Resisting arrest is never a fantastic idea, especially by using violence. Even when not any violence is used for resisting arrest, it is a first-degree misdemeanor offense punishable with up to one year jail time and/or up to $1,000 fine. Resisting Arrest with Violence Arrests can result in sentences involving incarceration. For more information schedule an appointment with our Criminal Lawyers in Fort Lauderdale.
The prosecution has to prove the following aspects for getting a conviction for resisting arrest with violence:
The accused willfully and having full knowledge opposed, obstructed or resisted the police officer by being violent or by offering to do violent act/s against the officer.
When the incident took place, the law enforcement officer was engaged in lawfully executing his or her legal duty or legal process.
When the incident took place the victim had the legal authority for executing the legal process, or was a law enforcement officer.
When the incident took place, the accused had full knowledge that the victim was a person authorized to execute legal process or knew the victim to be a law enforcement officer.
Defenses to Resisting Arrest with Violence Cases
Resisting arrest with violence is a serious charge that requires a proper defense strategy by an experienced defense lawyer to avoid a conviction or reduce the penalties. Even though an individual has the constitutional right to resist an illegal arrest non-violently, the law does not provide any rights to resist arrest with violence. However, if the actions of the officer were illegal or classified as non-arrest conduct, it still cannot be used as a defense against this charge.
The Tillman Case
The precedent was set by the ruling in Tillman v. State (Florida 2006). In this case, a police officer had suspicions about Tillman being a suspect in a bank robbery case. The officer approached Tillman and asked if he could pat him down, as Tillman was wearing a heavy jacket at a time when it was not cold. Tillman refused, but the officer searched him anyway for weapons. No weapons were found, but the officer still asked Tillman to sit down. Tillman did not heed the officer and started to walk away.
The officer, grabbed Tillman’s shoulder to stop him, but Tillman spun around and grabbed the officer in a headlock. The officer tried to remove the hold, but was unsuccessful, by which time other police officers arrived at the scene. Tillman released the hold only after he was pepper sprayed by the other officers.
In the case that followed, Tillman was found guilty of resisting arrest with violence pursuant to statute 843.01, and aggravated battery on police officer pursuant to statute 784.07(2)(d). Tillman’s argument at the appeal was that the State did not present the required evidence to show the officer was engaged in lawful execution of his duty. The appeal was rejected, and district court cited cases interpreting statute 843.01, which makes it clear that resisting arrest with violence is illegal regardless whether the arrest was technically legal or illegal.
Therefore, defenses are only possible for cases of resisting arrest without violence, which are:
The action of the defendant were not knowing and willful, and resulted from restraint by the officer
The officer was not executing legal duty
The action of the defendant was not violent
The officer used excessive force
When the incident took place, the defendant did not know the person to be a law enforcement officer