Obstructing or Resisting a Police Officer Absent Physical Force

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Can a Person Be Charged With Resisting or Obstructing a Police Officer Without the Use of Physical Force?

Yes.  Many state laws only indicate that a person may be charged as long as they "resist" or "obstruct" a police officer who is on the job.  As a result, most courts interpret such words broadly, allowing for any type of interference with police work. 

How Does a Court Determine if Non-physical Interference Constitutes Resisting or Obstructing a Police Officer?

First, courts will interpret their state laws on resisting or obstructing police officers to determine whether physical force is a requirement for the crime.  In many instances, laws that use words like, "obstruct," "resist," "abuse," "interfere," or "oppose," are generally considered to include both physical and non-physical interference.  In other words, unless a state law actually says resisting or obstructing an officer needs physical force, most courts won't require it.

Second, courts will look into the facts of the case.  Although physical force is the easiest way to show someone was resisting or obstructing a police officer, it's not the only means of proof.  There are many other ways to resist or obstruct a police officer without having to lay even one finger.  As long as the facts show a good amount of interference with police, it's still possible to be charged with resisting or obstructing a police officer. 

What are Some Examples of Non-physical Interference Charged as Resisting or Obstructing a Police Officer?

The following examples come from actual cases where resisting or obstructing a police officer was found:

How Can a Lawyer Help Me?

If you have been charged with resisting or obstructing a police officer, you should contact a criminal defense attorney immediately.  A lawyer can examine the current laws in your state, and help judge whether the facts in your case point to a legitimate offense.  An attorney can also represent you if you'd like to contend the charges.

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Last Modified: 09-24-2012 11:24 AM PDT

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