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Resisting or Obstructing a Police Officer

January 9th, 2015 at 9:32 am

Illinois defense attorney, violent crime, Illinois criminal lawyer, Illinios criminal justice statuteAs many across our nation continue to protest against abuses of power by police officers, unfortunately some people are winding up arrested. All too often these sorts of arrests are for things like obstructing or resisting arrest. This is why it is so important for politically active citizens to understand their rights and know exactly what does and does not count as obstruction, so they can do everything they can to avoid criminal charges.

What is Resisting or Obstructing a Peace Officer?

Crimes in Illinois are defined by statute. Under Illinois law a person “who knowingly resists or obstructs the performance by one known to the person to be a peace officer….of any authorized act within his or her official capacity commits a Class A misdemeanor.” This definition is a little bit circular, though, so we have to look at how the courts have defined the crime in practice. The Illinois Supreme Court said in a case called People b. Raby that:

Resisting or resistance means withstanding the force or effect of or the exertion of oneself to counteract or defeat. Obstruct means to be or come in the way of….These terms do not proscribe mere argument with a policeman about the validity of an arrest or other police action, but proscribe only some physical act which imposes an obstacle which may impede, hinder, interrupt, prevent or delay the performance of the officer’s duties, such as going limp, forcefully resisting arrest or physically aiding a third party to avoid arrest.

So What About Refusing to Comply with a Police Officer’s Orders?

A new decision was recently released by the Court of Appeals that has to do with whether it counts as obstruction to merely refuse to comply with a police officer’s orders. In this case a woman went to pick up her son from school. In the process, she briefly stopped her car in a traffic lane. As a result, a cop pulled her over. The cop claims the woman argued with the cop. The cop decided to write the woman a ticket, and he went to his car to call for back up. The woman allegedly started to pull away slowly, but the cop told her to stop and she did. The cop told the woman to give him her license and insurance information and she told him no. Then she drove away. The cop caught up with her and pulled her over again. He told her she was under arrest and that she had to exit her vehicle. The cop claims the mother told him, “I don’t have to do (explicative).” The cop told her to get out of the car again and she would not. The cops then forcibly removed her from the car.

Obviously the driving away from the initial pull-over was a problem. But the obstruction charge in this case had to do specifically with the woman’s refusal to get out of her car. The Court decided in this case that just refusing to get out of the car was enough to convict the woman of obstructing a police officer. In doing so, it said that considerations of officer safety were paramount in the case. A jury could conclude that the defendant refused the cop’s repeated orders to exit the vehicle and that as a result the cop had to put himself in danger, which is enough for the conduct to be considered obstruction.

Criminal Defense Attorney

If you are accused of resisting or obstructing a police officer you will need the help of an experienced criminal defense lawyer. You should contact the experienced Rolling Meadows criminal defense attorneys at the Law Offices of Christopher M. Cosley and schedule a consultation.

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