“Lawful execution of a legal duty”

You might be asking yourself, “what on earth does that mean?”  If so, you would not be the first person to find yourself puzzling over those words.  The crime of “resisting,” whether with or without violence, can be one of the most vague and confusing charges for a jury to consider.  Many average citizens assume that essentially everything an officer does constitutes acting in the “lawful execution of a legal duty,” especially if they are wearing a uniform and giving orders at the time.  But that is not always the case.  Unfortunately, it often appears in its misdemeanor form (without violence), as a sort of “add on” charge in an otherwise normal encounter – for example, when someone tenses their arms or pulls away momentarily as they are grabbed and handcuffed.

In Florida, the crime can also pop up in situations where the potential defendant might not expect that his or her actions would lead to a criminal charge.  Back in 2009, in the case of C.E.L. v. State, the Florida Supreme Court decided that “unprovoked” flight in a “high crime” area, which continues after an officer orders the person to stop, constitutes the crime of resisting without violence.  Such cases might seem next to impossible to win, but Justice Pariente’s extremely thoughtful and thought-provoking concurring opinion (starting at page 17) identified fertile ground for defense attacks both before and during trial.

How a Satellite Beach Criminal Defense Lawyer Can Help

These charges can be good cases for trial.  In misdemeanor cases, the action that form the basis of the charge can be voluntary, certainly, but they can also be an involuntary reaction to a sudden and unexpected grab by an officer.  In felony cases, an officer’s use of excessive force can, under the right facts and circumstances, provide justification for the use of defensive force to protect oneself.  In addition, potential defenses can exist where the defendant did not know the officer’s status, was engaging in protected speech, or resisting an unlawful arrest or detention.  In “high crime area” cases, the state’s case may be vulnerable in a number of ways that require detailed research and investigation before trial.

Knowledge of the area where the arrest occurred and the history of the parties involved can sometimes provide crucial context that might otherwise be missing in resisting cases.  An experienced criminal defense attorney, who has tried resisting cases – including those involving “high crime areas” – can guide you through the confusing legal jargon and help you identify and understand the possible defenses that might be available to you.

About Attorney Ruth Singer

Attorney Singer holds a B.S. in Psychology from the University of Florida. She also holds a J.D. from Florida A&M University College of Law, where she graduated at the top of her class. Attorney Singer clerked for an administrative law judge in the Drug Enforcement Administration in Arlington, VA, and worked as an Assistant Public Defender in Orlando, FL, before entering private practice. She is also admitted to practice in Oklahoma.

Attorney Singer is a dedicated and knowledgeable criminal defense attorney, with experience representing clients at both the trial and appellate levels. She has experience defending criminal cases through pretrial discovery, motions to suppress and dismiss, and at trial. As a former public defender, Attorney Singer strongly believes that the state must be held to its very high burden of proof. Attorney Singer aims to provide compassionate, client-focused legal representation and high-quality counsel that is accessible, affordable, and practical when it matters most.

Learn more about how The Singer Firm can help protect your future and the life you have built by scheduling a free consultation now at 321-804-3266.