According to Florida Statute 316.072, if you fail to obey a lawful order given by a police officer, you are breaking the law. In general, this statute applies to traffic-related offenses, but it can be applied to some other situations as well. A person can be charged under this statute if they are driving, walking, or riding a bicycle on a Florida public road and willfully refused to obey a lawful order or direction given by a police officer.
If you have been charged with failure to obey the lawful order in North Port, you could be about to face some serious penalties. It is important that you seek advice from an experienced criminal defense attorney from The Law Place as soon as possible. Using our combined knowledge and expertise, we can work to have your charges reduced or even dropped altogether. Contact us today at (941) 444-4444 for a free consultation. Our phone lines are open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
What the Law Says About Failing to Obey a Lawful Order
In Florida, it is unlawful to willfully refuse to comply with any lawful order or direction given by a police officer. This crime is classed as a misdemeanor of the second degree, punishable under Florida Statute 775.082 or Florida Statute 775.083.
Who Can be Charged Under This Statute?
- Any person who is in control of a motor vehicle, a bike, or is a pedestrian on a Florida public road.
- Any person who is given a lawful order or direction from a police officer.
- Any person who willfully fails to or refuses to comply with that lawful order.
Who Can Give a Lawful Order?
- A law enforcement officer, including deputy sheriffs, state troopers, and municipal police officers.
- A traffic crash investigation officer.
- A traffic infraction enforcement officer.
- Any member of the fire department at the scene of a fire, a rescue operation, or any other emergency.
- Any certified emergency medical technicians or paramedics responding to an emergency.
What Actions Are Considered “Failure to Obey”?
- Refusing to provide an officer with your details (name, address, etc.) upon their request.
- Refusing to provide the officer with the details of the vehicle owner upon their request.
- Providing the police officer with a false name and address.
- Refusing to stop driving, cycling, or walking/running after being signaled to do so.
- Refusing to provide the officer with your license and registration details upon their request.
- Refusing to sign a citation in the presence of the police officer (remember this is not an admission of guilt, only an acceptance of the summons).
For more information about what the law says about “failure to obey,” call The Law Place for a free consultation.
What Is a “Lawful Order?” According to Florida Law?
The term “lawful order” has been debated in past cases. For example, in the controversial Sandra Bland case in Texas, a police officer asked Bland to put out her cigarette, but this order contradicted her legal right to smoke inside her own car. When she refused to comply with this order, the police officer ordered her to get out of the car. Bland refused this order as well, and this led to an altercation. The police officer said, “I am giving you a lawful order,” repeatedly during the encounter, but her legal team raised the question of whether the officer’s orders were, in fact, “lawful.” In general, the courts don’t say much about what constitutes a “lawful order” when it comes to traffic stops.
In the case of People v. Jennings (1973), the court came to the conclusion that it is too broad to say that “lawful” means any order given by law enforcement that would not force the operator to break the law. This definition, they said, would subject citizens to any “whim” of a police officer. In this case, the court chose to adopt the ambiguous rule that an order is “lawful” when it is “reasonably designed to achieve its goal.” Unfortunately, there are still no guidelines on what constitutes a lawful order from a police officer. This leaves the prosecution in these cases with the burden of demonstrating that the order was lawful and should have been obeyed without question.
If you are unsure what is meant by a “lawful order” in the State of Florida, call The Law Place for a free consultation.
Possible Defenses in a Failure to Obey a Lawful Order Case
There are a number of possible defenses available to anyone facing these charges, but there are some key elements that a criminal defense attorney will look at when investigating your case.
In North Port and the State of Florida in general, any person has a legal right to disobey an officer if their instruction is unlawful, even if the instruction was given to them by a police officer. It is possible that your lawyer will build your defense around the fact that the order that you were given was, in fact, an unlawful one. The State of Florida will have the burden of establishing that the order was lawful. If they are unable to gather enough evidence to demonstrate this, your case and subsequent charges could be dropped completely with the help of an experienced lawyer.
Words alone are usually not enough to give rise to a conviction of disobeying a lawful instruction from a police officer. In most cases, the words of a person, even if they are rude and disrespectful, will be accompanied by violence and obstructive physical behavior to uphold charges of this nature. If you were stopped by police in North Port and refused to obey an order but were co-operative and did not use violence when doing so, your lawyer could use this in your defense.
Officer’s Status Unknown
In order to be charged under this statute, it should have been made clear to you that the officer at the scene was genuinely a law enforcement officer and not someone merely impersonating a police officer. If you have any questions about the identity of the police officer, for example, perhaps they were not in official uniform or were not in an officially marked patrol car, it is possible that your charges could be dropped. A criminal defense lawyer from The Law Place can investigate your case and look at whether you had a genuine reason to question the identity of the person that gave you the order.
If these elements do not apply in your case, there may be other facts that could lead to a dismissal with the help of a lawyer. Perhaps the evidence against you is weak, or maybe the police officer did not have a warrant to stop you in the first place. A qualified lawyer from The Law Place can conduct a thorough investigation into your case and build a defense that will give you the best shot at a positive outcome. Call us today for a free consultation.
Penalties for Failure to Obey a Lawful Order From a Police Officer
If you are successfully convicted of the crime of failing to obey a lawful instruction from an officer in North Port, you will be charged with a second-degree misdemeanor. Possible penalties include:
- Up to 60 days in county jail.
- A fine of up to $500.
- Six months of probation.
Any kind of criminal conviction should be avoided at all costs. Whether it is a misdemeanor or a felony charge you are facing, it will be permanently added to your criminal record and have a negative impact on your future. It could affect many aspects of your life, including your ability to apply for certain jobs, attend school, and even vote. If you have any previous convictions, without the help of an experienced lawyer, you have little hope of avoiding the most serious penalties. Call us today for a free consultation to find out more.
How Our Law Firm Can Help You
The Law Place is a well-established law firm based in the heart of Florida. We are not an ordinary law firm. Unlike other practices in the area, we work as a team, so you benefit from our combined knowledge, assets, and experience. Our attorneys are all litigators, and they are always fine-tuning their skills in the pursuit of justice and victory for our clients. No matter what the circumstances of your case are, you can guarantee that we will work tirelessly on your behalf and build an attorney-client relationship that is based on trust and understanding. Don’t hesitate, contact us today to schedule a free consultation.
Call Us Today for a Free Consultation
If you are facing a criminal conviction because you failed to obey a lawful order in North Port, The Law Place can help. In order to successfully charge you with this crime, a prosecutor would need to prove that the officer gave you lawful instruction and that you intentionally disobeyed it. There are a number of possible defenses to this crime, and it may be possible to have your charges reduced or dismissed with the help of the right lawyer. Contact us today at (941) 444-4444 and allow us to help you get your life back on track. Our attorneys are available to speak to at all hours.