Under Florida law, the state is required to produce evidence that an officer is engaged in a lawful duty to convict a defendant charged with resisting arrest. In a recent case, the District Court of Appeal of Florida, Second District reversed a conviction for resisting an officer without violence, due to the state’s failure to introduce sufficient evidence to support the argument that the arresting officers had probable cause to arrest the defendant. If you face charges for resisting an arrest, it is important to retain an experienced Tampa criminal defense attorney to analyze the facts regarding your arrest and any evidence the state may attempt to introduce against you.
Facts of the Case
Allegedly, it is the internal practice of the Tampa Police Department to regularly check in on juveniles on probation to ensure they are complying with the terms of the probation. If the police determine a juvenile is violating the terms of his or her probation, a “local pickup order” call will then be placed to pick up the juvenile for violation of probation. In this case, two police officers received a dispatch call to pick up the defendant for violation of probation. The officers went to the defendant’s house to arrest him and found him hiding in a closet. The defendant refused to walk down the stairs of the apartment and had to be carried out by the police officers. After the defendant was placed in the police car, he kicked out a window, and the officers had to restrain him. The defendant was subsequently charged and convicted of criminal mischief and resisting an officer without violence. The defendant subsequently appealed his conviction.
Ruling of the District Court of Appeal of Florida, Second District
On appeal, the court reversed the defendant’s conviction for resisting an officer without violence. The court stated that under Florida law, to prove a defendant resisted an officer in the execution of legal duty without violence, which is a first-degree misdemeanor, the state must show the officer was performing the lawful execution of a legal duty and the defendant by words or conduct obstructed that duty. In analyzing whether an officer was engaged in the lawful execution of a legal duty, the court must employ the standard governing the duty at the time of the alleged obstruction.
Here, the defendant argued the state did not produce the order regarding his probation or the local pickup order, or any other evidence that supported the position his arrest was lawful. The state argued, however, that the arresting officers’ testimony regarding the dispatch call to pick up the defendant was adequate evidence to support the argument they were engaged in a lawful duty at the time of the arrest. The court noted that while in certain circumstances a local pickup call could be introduced as evidence that the police were engaged in a lawful duty, in this case, the state did not produce any evidence to show that the defendant was on probation, the terms of the probation or the manner in which the defendant allegedly violated the probation. The court stated that to prove the arresting officers were executing a legal duty at the time of the defendant’s arrest the state must introduce evidence setting forth the basis for probable cause. As the state failed to produce any such evidence, in this case, the court held the trial court erred in denying defendant’s motion to dismiss the charge of resisting an officer without violence and reversed the trial court ruling.
Meet with an Experienced Tampa Criminal Defense Attorney
A juvenile conviction can impact a person’s rights and liberties for decades. If you are a juvenile Tampa resident facing criminal charges you should retain an experienced criminal defense attorney to analyze the facts of your case and help you formulate a defense. William Hanlon of Hanlon Law is an experienced Tampa criminal defense attorney who will work vigorously to help you obtain a favorable outcome in your criminal case. Contact our offices at 813-228-7095 or via the online form to set up a consultation.
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