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Resisting An Officer Without Violence: A Catch-All Offense

I meet many clients who have been charged with the offense of resisting an officer without violence. However, when I take a look at their arrest reports, I soon realize that these clients were arrested for nothing more than upsetting a police officer.

Resisting an officer without violence is a first-degree misdemeanor punishable by up to one year in county jail. However, the statute requires that a person obstruct or disobey a lawful command by a police officer engaged in the lawful execution of their duties. In other words, it is perfectly legal to peacefully resist an officer's unlawful command. You cannot resist an officer with violence. However, you may choose to walk away and ignore a police officer if that officer is not engaged in the lawful execution of their duties.

The crime of resisting an officer without violence was intended for instances such as a suspect, who is lawfully under arrest, refusing to comply with being handcuffed and detained. Unfortunately, many officers use this charge as a "catch-all" when they are just angry with a particular subject.

Case in point, you mouth off to a cop during a traffic stop. Don't be surprised if you are yanked out of your car (not gently) and placed under arrest for resisting an officer without violence. What if your friend or family member is being arrested and you demand to know why your friend or family member is being arrested? Don't be surprised if you are arrested, too.

A vast majority of law enforcement officers do not understand the resisting without violence statute. Many think that simply being disrespectful to an officer is sufficient grounds for the charge. This is not true.

The point is, if you are arrested for resisting an officer without violence, you should contact a criminal defense attorney to see if your charge can be dismissed. There may be a legal basis for dismissal of the charge due to the fact that no actual crime was committed.