Failing to obey a lawful order can seem harmless at the time, but it is, in fact, a fairly serious crime. Florida Statute 316.072 states that it is unlawful to disobey a police officer’s order. This second-degree misdemeanor can be punishable by up to 60 days in jail, six months of probation, and a fine of up to $500. This law often applies to traffic-related offenses following a traffic stop. For example, when a pedestrian, motor vehicle driver, or cyclist is given a lawful order by an enforcement officer, which the individual fails to follow. Although this crime commonly occurs in this type of situation, the failure to obey a lawful order is not limited to traffic scenarios, as the crime can extend to a range of situations.
If you or a loved one have been accused of failing to follow a lawful order or direction by a police officer in Punta Gorda, it is highly recommended that you seek legal representation from a reputable law firm. Apart from the potential penalties that come along with a second-degree misdemeanor, a conviction of this crime will remain on your permanent criminal record and could impact your life in the future when it comes to finding employment or housing.
Here at The Law Place, we have a team of skilled criminal defense attorneys who have extensive experience in helping clients with traffic-related offenses to escape the worst of their penalties. Call us today to schedule a free case consultation with one of our defense lawyers, who will be able to go through the details of the event with you and determine whether you have a strong case. Your assigned lawyer will provide you with case-specific legal advice regarding the best steps to take next and answer any questions you might have.
So don’t hesitate to contact us. Our phone lines are monitored 24hrs a day, 7 days a week, for the benefit of our clients. Call us now at (941) 444-4444.
Failure to Obey a Lawful Order
A person can be accused of disobeying a lawful order when they:
- Are a pedestrian or in the operation of a vehicle or bike on a public road.
- Are provided with a lawful direction or order from a police officer.
- Intentionally refuses or fails to comply with that lawful order.
It is important to remember that the term ‘police officer’ can also refer to deputy sheriffs, state troopers, fire department members, EMT responders, traffic crash investigation officers, municipal police officers, rescue operation members, and traffic infraction law enforcement officers.
A common misconception is that a conviction of this crime requires the perpetrator to disobey the officer in a dramatic way, for example, by running away or violently resisting. In fact, these would be considered crimes in their own right.
Some examples of disobeying a police officer could be:
- Refusing to give your name and address to the officer upon request.
- Giving the officer a false name.
- Refusing to give the name and address of the vehicle owner upon request.
- Refusal to give the officer your license and registration.
- Refusing to sign your name to a citation in the presence of the officer.
For the prosecution to successfully convict you, they will need to show that the officer made the lawful order and that you willfully and intentionally disobeyed that order.
Penalties for Failure to Obey the Lawful Order of a Police Officer in Punta Gorda
It is common for people in Punta Gorda to underestimate how serious a crime it is to fail to follow the lawful order of a police officer. According to Florida law, this offense is classed as a second-degree misdemeanor. If you disobey the lawful order of a police officer, you could be punished with up to sixty days in county jail, up to six months of probation, and a fine of up to $500.
The penalty will depend on the specifics of the case and the defense put forward. To give you the best chance of reducing the penalties imposed on you, we recommend that you seek representation from a criminal defense attorney. They will provide guidance and advice throughout the legal process, including in the courtroom, and will fight hard to get you the best possible outcome for your case. Contact our team of attorneys today for a free consultation and receive no-obligation legal advice.
What Is a ‘Lawful Order’?
Over the years, there has been a lot of debate over what exactly constitutes a lawful order from a police officer. This can make navigating this sort of case more difficult in a court of law but can also be used as a legal defense strategy.
Sandra Bland was an example of an important case in which the exact definition of ‘lawful order’ was questioned. The case took place in Waller County, Texas, where a police officer pulled over Sandra Bland’s vehicle after she failed to signal. During the traffic stop, the officer asked Bland to put out the cigarette that she was smoking, and she refused. The officer then asked her to exit her vehicle, which she also refused to do. The police officer was repeatedly stating that she was being given a ‘lawful order.’ However, there is debate over whether the orders were, in fact, lawful.
Courts in Texas and Florida have remained silent on what is exactly meant by a ‘lawful order’ in a traffic stop situation, meaning that there is still disagreement and little understanding on what exactly constitutes a ‘lawful order.’ As the definition and, therefore, the law is vague, this is a common defense used by traffic lawyers to defend their clients. If you have been caught or accused of failing to follow a ‘lawful order,’ which you suspect may not have been lawful, call us today. A free case consultation with one of our experienced criminal defense attorneys will give you the opportunity to ask any questions you might have, and they will give you an idea of the line of defense they could take with your case.
What Defenses Are Available for a Lawyer in Punta Gorda, FL?
There are various lines of defense available to a traffic defense lawyer, which could be used to reduce the likelihood of the perpetrator facing jail time. They could use the standard pretrial defenses and trial defenses that can be applied to any criminal case. In addition, they might use defenses typically used specifically to challenge charges of disobeying a law enforcement officer’s lawful order. These are the defences known as unlawful order, protected speech, and the unknown status of a police officer in Punta Gorda.
If a police officer gives an unlawful order, then in the State of Florida, it is completely legal for a person to disobey this order. The defense for your case could then be built around the fact that the order given was completely unlawful. The State of Florida will then have the responsibility to demonstrate that the order was lawful. If they are unable to gather sufficient evidence to demonstrate that the order was lawful, the case and the charges are likely to be dropped.
It is difficult, legally speaking, for the words of a person alone to be used as evidence of disobeying a lawful order from a police officer. There must usually be other accompanying evidence to support a conviction for failure to follow a lawful order, such as violence and obstructive physical conduct. This means that if you were stopped by a law enforcement official in Punta Gorda and you acted cooperatively and non-violently, then it will be more difficult for a court to convict you. This could be used by your defense attorney to build your case and make a conviction with harsh penalties less likely.
The Unknown Status of a Police Officer
To be accused of disobeying a lawful order from a police officer, you must have known that the person giving the order was a genuine law enforcement officer rather than a random person impersonating a police officer. If you have suspicions over the identity of the law enforcement officer or are questioning their legality, you should contact The Law Place today. One of our attorneys can conduct an investigation regarding the person who stopped you and gave you the lawful order to determine whether they were a genuine police officer. Your defense attorney could also use your suspicions over the identity of the officer at the time of the incident as a defense for you disobeying the order.
Contact The Law Place
The criminal justice system is complex. Fighting a conviction alone can be daunting and lead to penalties or a mark on your permanent criminal record if your defense is not handled properly. That’s why we highly recommend that you contact us as soon as possible. After your free case consultation with a criminal defense attorney, if you choose to work with us, our team will construct a defense strategy around your case. With over 75 years of combined experience dealing with cases just like yours, you can be sure that you are in safe hands. We will handle the whole process, and your assigned defense attorney will be your point of contact and support throughout.
Our phone lines are monitored 24hrs a day, 7 days a week. So phone us today at (941) 444-4444.