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What is Obstruction (Resisting without Violence) in Florida?

What is Obstruction (Resisting without violence)?

Obstruction (Resisting without violence) is a first degree misdemeanor that is punishable by up to one year in the Sarasota County Jail and/or by a fine of up to $1000. Obstruction is sometimes referred to as the "catch all" charge—if an officer has no basis to charge you with a crime but is unhappy with your cooperation for whatever reason, this is often what you will be charged with. That is not to say that there are no legitimate obstruction charges—there definitely are—just that obstruction is often "over-charged."

There are two elements to a charge of obstruction (resisting without violence). First, the officer must be engaged in the lawful execution of a legal duty. Second, an action by the defendant must obstruct, oppose, or resist that legal duty.

Engaged in the lawful execution of a legal duty

Situations commonly arise where an officer is not engaged in a legal duty. For instance, if an officer has approached you consensually, and there is no suspicion of criminality, and you are arrested for obstruction, it may be an illegal arrest. Also, if you are arrested for a crime and also charged with obstruction, and the original arrest is determined to be illegal, than your obstruction charge may be invalid.

People are commonly charged with obstruction for running away. In some cases it is not illegal to run from the police. If the police are not investigating a crime, and you are not suspected of a crime, than in some cases it may be entirely legal for you to run from the police.

Action by the defendant must obstruct, oppose, or resist that legal duty

A person's words alone almost never amount to obstruction. Obstructive conduct, rather than words, is usually needed to support an obstruction charge. If you were arrested for obstruction because you were simply argumentative or rude to an officer, it may have been an illegal arrest.

The attorneys at Soler and Slack, P.A. have handled hundreds of obstruction charges. Call (941) 444-5128 for a free case evaluation and analysis.

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