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Asserting Your Rights is NOT Resisting

A recent video making the rounds on the Internet shows a New York sheriff’s deputy slapping a man in the head after he refused to consent to a search of his car.

Watch it here.

The deputy challenged him, asking, “You wanna f*ckin’ resist?”

The deputy, Shawn Glans, a sergeant with the Saratoga County Sheriff’s Office, is an idiot.

First and foremost, barring exigent circumstances, a police officer cannot force you to consent to a search of your vehicle. By demanding the victim’s keys, the deputy was essentially committing an armed robbery, in addition to violating a fundamental right to be free from an unlawful search of your property.

In the State of Florida, you are allowed to resist an unlawful command. You may not use violence against the officer but you may peacefully and calmly refuse to comply with an officer’s order if the order is not lawful. In this case, the officer’s order to the victim demanding his keys was not lawful. The victim had the right to calmly and peacefully refuse.

An officer cannot slap somebody in the head who has not posed even the slightest physical threat to the officer. This is not just an unlawful use of force, this is a battery. The officer committed a crime.

Officers throw out the word “resisting” all too often without realizing what it means.

In Florida, you may not resist an officer’s lawful command when they are engaged in the execution of a legal duty.

For example, if you are legally placed under arrest and you refuse to allow yourself to be handcuffed and detained, you can be charged with resisting an officer without violence.

If you are lawfully stopped in your car and the officer suspects that you have committed a crime (DUI, suspended license, possession of marijuana), it constitutes the crime of resisting an officer without violence if you refuse to get out of the car.

In the situation depicted in the video, the victim did not resist. When there is no exception to the warrant requirement (such as contraband in plain view), an officer cannot search you or your belongings without a search warrant. You have the right to refuse a search. That does not constitute the offense of resisting.

Eric Matheny is a criminal defense attorney representing clients with resisting an officer without violence charges and resisting an officer with violence charges in Miami-Dade and Broward.