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Rise in Violence Against Police in Florida

In the news, violence involving police officers typically focuses on cases when police officers are the perpetrators. However, according to the Nationwide Law Enforcement Memorial Foundation, violence against police officers committed by civilians has been on the rise. In fact, this year alone, 63 police officers have died in the line of duty, a 40 percent increase from the 45 police officers who died last year during the same time range. In Florida, violence against police officers has been on the rise as well, with at least two officers being fatally wounded while on the job. A recent incidence of violence against a police officer was in the news when a man arrested for a DUI in Pompano Beach, Florida was accused of punching the arresting officer in the stomach after striking three cars while driving drunk.

Florida Laws Addressing Violence Against Police Officers

Florida laws provide specific protections that make punishment more severe when acts of violence are committed against police officers. Under Florida Criminal Law Statute section 843.01, a civilian who resists or attempts to resist an arrest through the use of violence is considered to have committed a third-degree felony that is punishable by up to five years in prison. Such violent resistance must have been committed with the knowing and willful intention to resist arrest through the use of violence. Officers covered under section 843 include:

  • Full time and part-time law enforcement officers;
  • Full-time and part-time correctional officers;
  • Correctional probation officers;
  • Auxiliary law enforcement officers; and
  • Auxiliary correctional officers.

Section 843.01 makes it illegal to use or threaten to use any act of physical violence against a law enforcement officer when that officer is engaged in the lawful execution of that officer’s official duties. Section 843.01 applies even when the underlying arrest was determined to be illegal. Oftentimes, Section 843.01 is confused with Florida Statute Section 843.02, which addresses the resistance of an officer arrest without the use of violence. This offense has a lesser punishment of being a first-degree misdemeanor, which carries a maximum sentence of one year in a Florida county jail.

Violence against police officers is also prohibited under Florida Criminal Law Statute Section 776.012. Under this law the, use or threatened use of force can lawfully be used in the defense of one’s person when that person reasonably believes that the use of force is necessary to prevent imminent death and or great bodily harm. In such circumstances there is no duty to retreat and the threatened person may stand their ground and use/threaten to use deadly force if that person is not engaged in criminal activities at the time of the use of deadly force, and that same person has a lawful right to be where they are. However, no matter how likely or imminent death may be, this does not justify the use of deadly force against a police officer who lawfully enters or attempts to enter a residence, vehicle or dwelling in their official police officer capacity.

Do you need representation in a resisting arrest suit or any other criminal matter? Contact Miami criminal attorney Jeffrey S. Weiner, PA today.

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