Resisting without violence is a first-degree misdemeanor punishable by up to a year in jail and/or probation and $1000 fine. Unfortunately, it is a common criminal charge that is usually added to other charges, or can also be a sole charge.
Pursuant to Florida law, resisting without violence is defined as "whoever shall resist, obstruct, or oppose any [law enforcement or probation officer] or other person legally authorized to execute process in the execution of legal process or in the lawful execution of any legal duty, without offering or doing violence to the person of the officer...." F.S.S. 843.02.
In court, the State must prove four elements: (1) the defendant resisted, obstructed, or opposed an officer; (2) at the time, the officer was engaged in the execution of legal process or execution of any legal duty; (3) the officer is a person legally authorized to execute such process; and (4) at the time, the defendant knew that the person they resisted, obstructed, or opposed was a person legally authorized to execute legal process or legal duty. In short, the person resisted a lawful arrest and they knew the person was a law enforcement officer.
Resisting with Violence is a third-degree felony punishable by up to 5 years in prison or probation. Resisting with violence requires the same four elements above AND violence toward the officer.
There are many actions that could be considered resisting that may seem relatively minor and harmless. Bracing and tensing during arrest, giving a false name, refusing to stand up or sit down, refusing to provide your name when lawfully required to do so, refusing to leave or return to an area when ordered to do so, interfering with someone else's arrest, refusing to lower your car window or exit the vehicle, and many others examples. Even resisting, obstructing, or opposing a law enforcement officer during a simple traffic infraction can result in a resisting charge.
Although it can be a very frustrating experience, it would be wise to be as cooperative as possible during a police encounter in order to avoid this charge. However, it is important to remember that you still have the right to remain silent (meaning, you DO NOT and SHOULD NOT speak about the facts surrounding your police encounter or admit to anything) and you have the right to speak to an attorney. If charged with resisting without violence or any other criminal charge, contact our office for a free phone consultation and speak to an attorney who will keep your best interests in mind throughout your entire case.