What Rises To The Level Of Resisting Arrest?
On September 16, Shadya Miguel was stopped by an Orange County Sheriff’s Sergeant for improper display of a tag. On the arrest report, the officer reported that he initiated the stop because damage to the rear of Ms. Miguel’s car made it difficult to read her license plate. The officer misread the license plate, and showed that the incorrect number he ran belonged to a different type of car than Ms. Miguel’s. During the stop, the officer asked for Ms. Miguel’s registration and when she told him that she did not have it, he told her to step out of her car. When she asked why she was being asked to step out of her vehicle, the officer smashed her car window and told her to stop resisting. Ms. Miguel was arrested and charged with resisting arrest.
The next month, the charges against Ms. Miguel for resisting arrest were dropped; Ms. Miguel is currently still being required to pay a ticket for the original traffic violation for which she was stopped – improper display of a tag.
The crime of “resisting arrest” varies on a state-by-state basis. Depending on how state law defines the offense, some conduct may be “resisting arrest” in one state, but not in another. Most people can think of examples of resisting arrest – such as when a suspect flees from an an arresting officer, or engages in physical violence against an officer. Those are the clear examples; however, there are other situations that states may define as “resisting” that are much less clear, such as engaging in a heated verbal exchange with an officer, or refusing to comply with an officer’s verbal commands.
Resisting Without Violence in Florida
According to Florida law, anyone who obstructs or opposes any law enforcement officer is guilty of a first degree misdemeanor. The statute is broad and gives officers wide discretion and does not require an officer to be attempting an arrest in order to arrest someone for resisting without violence.
The law can be confusing – while refusing to comply with a verbal order may be resisting without violence, speech alone cannot generally constitute resisting without violence (with a few limited exceptions). In that case, someone in Ms. Miguel’s position is subject even more to the officer’s discretion – while she was merely asking the officer a question about his order, which could seem like she did not violate the resisting without violence law. However, by failing to exit her vehicle, she was also failing to adhere to the officer’s order, which could be viewed as a violation of the the resisting without violence law. The key question about interactions such as the one between Ms. Miguel and the officer that pulled her over is if her actions obstructed or opposed the law enforcement officer.
When dealing with the police, it is easy to be flustered and nervous and to be unsure about your rights. If you or your loved one has been charged with resisting arrest and has questions about your rights, contact the experienced Florida attorneys at The Baez Law Firm for a consultation today.