Are you charged with resisting or obstructing a peace officer in Lake County, Illinois criminal court? Unless it's alleged a police officer was injured during the commission of the crime, resisting arrest or obstructing a peace officer is punishable as a class A misdemeanor offense.
The HoffmanLaw Office has nearly 20 years of experience with Lake County resisting arrest and obstructing a peace officer cases. If you work with us, your HoffmanLaw Lake County criminal defense attorney is going to understand the issues in your case. We're ready to put our knowledge and experience to work in your defense.
The criminal offense of resisting a police officer alleges you knowingly resisted the performance of a person you knew to be a police officer of any authorized act within the police officer's official capacity. See, 720 ILCS 5/31-1(a).
The overwhelming majority of resisting a police officer charges specifically allege someone unlawfully resisted their own arrest.
Common ways to be charged with resisting arrest include being accused of any of the following acts:
- Pulling away from the officer;
- Pushing the officer;
- Struggling with the officer;
- Going limp when the officer tries to handcuff you;
- Running away from the officer;
- Refusing to allow the officer to handcuff you; or
- Refusing to obey the officer's orders to put your hands behind your back.
When can the police arrest you?
Because the question often arises as to whether a police officer's decision to arrest someone was lawful or unlawful, it's worth considering what circumstances allow a police officer to make an arrest in the first place.
A police officer cannot arrest you unless he or she has "probable cause" you committed, are committing, or are about to commit a crime.
What passes for "probable cause" for the police to arrest you?
The courts have held probable cause exists if, at the time of the arrest, the facts and circumstances within the officer's knowledge are sufficient to warrant a prudent person, or one of reasonable caution, to believe, in the circumstances shown, you committed, are committing, or are about to commit an offense.
Even if it turns out after the fact the officer lacked probable cause to arrest you, if a reasonable police officer in the same circumstances could have mistakenly thought probable cause existed, then the officer's arrest of you still would have been lawful.
Conversely, if a reasonable police officer in the same circumstances would have known probable cause did not exist, then your arrest would have been illegal.
In most cases, the crime of resisting arrest is charged in conjunction with other offenses. This is because in situations where a person is charged with resisting arrest, the police already have determined they have probable cause to arrest that person for a separate and pre-existing reason.
It's when a police officer attempts to arrest someone based on probable cause and determines that individual now is resisting that the officer concludes additional probable exists to also charge resisting arrest.
This is why resisting arrest charges most frequently occur as additional "counts" or allegations in multi-count misdemeanor or felony prosecutions.
The offense of obstructing a peace officer is nearly identical to the offense of resisting a peace officer.
However, instead of alleging you resisted, the criminal charge of obstructing alleges you obstructed a peace officer's performance of any authorized act within his or her official capacity. See, 720 ILCS 5/31-1(a).
What's an example of obstructing a peace officer?
An example of the offense of obstructing a peace officer is as follows.
A police officer is engaged in a lawful arrest. A bystander is there at the scene.
The police officer orders that bystander to step back and not to interfere with the arrest. Instead of complying with the officer's request, the bystander intentionally places him or herself between the officer and the person the officer is trying to arrest. The bystander then tells the officer she can't proceed with the arrest.
Because the officer is performing a lawful act within her official capacity, namely, someone else's lawful arrest, the bystander intentionally interfering with that action will be arrested and charged with obstructing a peace officer.
If that bystander then allegedly resists his or her own arrest, he also will be charged with the offense of resisting arrest.
Resisting and obstructing a peace officer are class A misdemeanor offenses. Class A misdemeanors are punishable by a fine of up to $2,500 and by up to 364 days in jail.
Someone convicted of resisting or obstructing a peace officer will be required to spend a minimum of 48 consecutive hours in jail or to complete 100 hours of public service.
Is court supervision available?
A disposition of court supervision is not available for the offenses of resisting or obstructing a peace officer. See, 730 ILCS 5/5-6-1(c). Court supervision is a type of sentence in a criminal case that avoids entry of a conviction against the accused.
Since court supervision is not allowed, a conviction is mandatory for someone found guilty of resisting or obstructing a peace officer.
Is resisting or obstructing ever a felony offense?
If a person injured a peace officer during the commission of the offense, resisting or obstructing a peace officer becomes a class 4 felony. Class 4 felonies are punishable by up to a $25,000 fine and by up to 1-3 years in prison.
If you were arrested and charged with resisting or obstructing a peace officer in Lake County, Illinois, a HoffmanLaw Office criminal defense attorney can work toward building a strong defense in your case. We have nearly 20 years' experience working on misdemeanor and felony criminal cases in the main Lake County criminal courthouse in downtown Waukegan, Illinois.
Additionally, we defend clients facing resisting or obstructing a peace officer charges in the Lake County branch courts in Mundelein, Round Lake Beach and Park City. We have the experience necessary to make a meaningful and positive difference in the defense of your case.