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What is Resisting Arrest Without Violence in Florida?


Tampa criminal defense attorneys are often asked about what Resisting Arrest Without Violence means since so many individuals are arrested for it and it includes so many different acts.   Many Tampa criminal defense attorneys note that Resisting Arrest Without Violence is often charged, where the person seemingly did nothing else wrong, yet went to jail.

First, it is covered by Florida Statute Section 843.02.  The Statute requires about four things: some sort of a law enforcement officer, acting in “lawful execution of any legal duty”, some sort of “resist, obstruct, or oppose” and no violence being done to the officer.  While that is certainly a disjoined and ugly definition, it essentially breaks down the four elements of the resisting arrest without violence.  The definition of law enforcement officer in the Statute covers everything from traditional police officers, probation officers, Florida Department of Law Enforcement officers, etc.  It is also worth noting that many cases come down to the portion of the Statute concerning “lawful execution of any legal duty” especially where the defendant was not arrested for other crime.  This situation often arises when individuals are asked for their driver’s license or other information during the course of an investigation, while they are not under arrest.  If violence occurs during the resistance or obstruction, the charge will be resisting arrest with violence, which is a third degree felony in Florida with a maximum of five (5) years in prison.

Secondly, interestingly enough, unlike many other Florida criminal statutes, words alone are enough to satisfy the Statute and justify an arrest.  While the words have to be in a very specific situation, specifically concerning giving a false name to law enforcement, while they are operating within a lawful duty.  While this is very frustrating to many folks, it is frankly confusing and frustrating to many Tampa criminal defense attorneys as well.   As you can imagine, this exception is very narrowly tailored to prevent innocent, Constitutional speech from being criminalized.

Lastly, there are many defenses to the charge of resisting arrest without violence including the lawfulness of the law enforcement officer’s actions and the voluntariness of one’s actions.  For example, if someone has a torn rotator cuff and the officer accuses the individual of “tensing and bracing” during their attempts to handcuff the individual, it can be argued they were not voluntarily resisting arrest.  Another common defense occurs when the officer did not have a lawful basis for requesting the identification of an individual and they refused to provide the information.

If you or someone you know has been charged with resisting arrest without violence, contact the experienced Tampa criminal defense attorneys of Hackworth Law for a free case consultation.  We have handled thousands of cases like yours and pride ourselves on getting positive results for our clients.  If you would like to contact one of our experienced Tampa criminal defense attorneys immediately, please use the “contact us now” tab in the upper right hand corner of our website.  We appreciate your time in checking out our Tampa criminal defense attorney blog and look forward to hearing from you.