Resisting Arrest: Penalties and Defenses for Resisting Arrest

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31st Oct 2023

Penalties for Resisting Officer with Violence

The offense of Resisting an Officer with Violence constitutes a third-degree felony in Florida, which carries with it a punishment of up to five years in prison and $5,000 in monetary fines.

Defenses to Resisting Officer with Violence

In addition to the pretrial defenses and trial defenses that can be raised in any criminal matter, the defenses to the crime of Resisting Officer with Violence are as follows:

•     On The Job

In order for a person to be convicted of Resisting an Officer with Violence, it requires proof that the law enforcement officer was “engaged in the performance of a lawful duty when the resisting occurred,” not just “on the job.”  This means that if an officer is working off duty for a private employer such as a convenience store or mall, they are not afforded enhanced protection under the law. However, if the officer, while working for a private employer, becomes engaged in such activities as breaking up a fight, a person who performs acts of violence against the officer can be convicted of Battery of a Law Enforcement Officer.

•     Self Defense

A person cannot use violence in the process of resisting a lawful or unlawful arrest, however, he or she can use reasonable force to resist the use of excessive force inflicted upon him or her during an arrest by a law enforcement officer. Outside of an arrest situation, a person also has the right to use reasonable force to defend himself or herself from unlawful actions committed by law enforcement, including if an officer enters a home without a warrant, or unlawfully frisking or detaining someone.

It is important to realize that even if a law enforcement officer engages in unlawful acts, a person who uses force against him or her does so at his or her own risk. This is because the prosecutor will typically side with law enforcement when filing a Resisting Officer With Violence charge.

If you have been penalized for resisting arrest in Miami, then you may want to call an experienced criminal defense attorney for legal advice.