Resisting Arrest Without Violence: What to Know About Your Case

Resisting Arrest Without Violence: What to Know About Your Case

Under Florida State law, resisting a Law Enforcement Officer Without Violence is any non-violent obstruction of a law enforcement officer during the execution of a legal duty, including arrest. Resisting Without Violence is a first-degree misdemeanor, with penalties of up to 1 year in jail or 12 months probation, and a $1,000 fine. Obstruction Resisting Without Violence


Resisting a Law Enforcement Officer Without Violence is any non-violent interference directed at a police officer who is acting pursuant to a legitimate law enforcement function. The definition can be found under Section 843.02 of the Florida Statutes: “Whoever shall resist, obstruct, or oppose any officer or other person legally authorized to execute process . . . In the law execution of a legal duty, without offering or doing violence to the person of the officer, shall be guilty of a misdemeanor of the first degree . . .” In many criminal cases, Resisting an Officer Without Violence is a type of offense that is tacked on by police to supplement other charges, such as after you have been arrested on a drug or battery charge. This “coupling of charges” increases the likelihood of conviction.

Necessary Conditions to Sustain Conviction

             In order to prove this charge at trial, the State must establish the following four elements beyond a reasonable doubt:

  1. The defendant resisted, obstructed, or opposed a law enforcement officer;
  2. At the time, the officer was engaged in the execution of legal process or the lawful execution of a legal duty;
  3. The officer was a person legally authorized to execute process; and
  4. At the time, the defendant knew that the person resisted, obstructed, or opposed was in fact an officer or other person legally authorized to execute process.

The Broadness and Scope of “Resistance”

Even seemingly minor actions by a suspect or arrestee can constitute “resistance” within the meaning of the Statute. There are many common examples including, but not limited to, tensing arms while being handcuffed, not obeying verbal commands, refusing to stand, walk, or sit, providing false information, and concealing evidence.

Penalties for Resisting an Officer

Resisting a Law Enforcement Officer Without Violence is classified as a first-degree misdemeanor and is punishable by up to one year in jail and a $1,000 fine. It is common for first-time offenders, with no prior criminal record, to receive probation alone for this offense. Even if that is the case, however, these offenders will still have the charge placed on their criminal record, which can have wide-ranging implications for job prospects and personal matters. What’s more, if verbal abuse or especially heinous taunting or disrespect is present, it is likely that prosecutors will seek jail time even for first time offenders. The likelihood of jail time is greatly exacerbated for those with a prior criminal record that are facing this charge.

Possible Defense Strategies

            Each case is different and the nuances between them will determine which is the best legal defense strategy to undertake. That is why it is important to consult with an attorney if facing this charge. Possible strategies include, but are not limited to:

Disputing “Resistance”

In order to sustain a conviction for Resisting Without Violence, a defendant’s actions must amount to actual opposition or obstruction. This is a factual determination left for the jury. Perception of “resistance” is insufficient to carry this charge. Often, the officer’s allegations do not rise to the level of actual resistance.

Involuntary Actions/Reflexes

             “Resistance” may, also, have come about through an involuntary reaction or reflex by the defendant. Often, due to the adrenaline of the situation, the pain caused by handcuffs or an “arm takedown,” and/or the physiological status of the defendant, muscle tension and spasms can occur. Sometimes these are interpreted by the arresting Law Enforcement Officer as “resistance” but this charge cannot be carried if it is established that the physical actions of the defendant were carried out involuntarily due to natural reflexes.

Why You Should Contact an Attorney if Facing this Charge

There are many nuances of a potential case of Resisting Arrest Without Violence to consider before moving forward. My experience as an Assistant State Attorney has exposed me to numerous types of these cases and their commonality lies in their differences. Given the numerous defenses available to contest these charges, an attorney is a vital asset for avoiding a conviction

If you have question about your Resisting Arrest Without Violence case please call my office at 407-415-9626 or email me at