Interfering with Police / Resisting Arrest
The charge of interfering with an officer in violation of C.G.S.§53a-167, can occur in a wide range of situations ranging from failure to cooperate when asked to produce your identification, resisting arrest, to fighting with an officer. Sadly, the police often abuse this charge and wrongfully arrest people for interfering with police for the wrong reasons. This crime is different from other crimes in that the officer is the actual victim and complaining witness of the alleged offense. This gives the police tremendous power, which, sadly, is often abused. If you have been charged with interfering with an officer, you need to hire an experienced Connecticut criminal defense attorney to represent you and defend your rights. This is a serious allegation, and a conviction can have severe consequences, including jail time and probation, not to mention a permanent criminal record and its effects on your ability to secure employment.
C.G.S.§53a-167, Interfering with a police officer is a prevalent crime in Connecticut and is frequently charged in conjunction with other charges. Keep in mind that in the case of interfering with an officer, the state's attorney views the police officer as the victim of the crime so often they take these kinds of charges seriously. If you have been charged with interfering with an officer, you will need to retain the services of a Stamford criminal lawyer to plan a defense strategy and protect your liberty. At the Law Offices of Allan F. Friedman, we offer free initial consultations, and we are open 24/7 at (203) 357-5555.Elements of the Crime of Interfering with an Officer
The statue for interfering with police is C.G.S.§53a-167. This is a broad, vague, and poorly defined statue that gives police the power to arrest anyone they want, whom they feel are interfering with their duties. In analyzing the statute, the first part that stands out that there is no requirement to prove a mental intent to interfere. The statute is silent as to the required mental intent required of the actor.
Moving beyond the mental intent aspect, we can see that it is one of the most broadly written and vague statutes in Connecticut criminal law books C.G.S.§53a-167 states in part that it is a crime to "obstruct, resist, hinder or endanger an officer . . . . in the performance of such officers duties." If you are charged with this offense, often, it is your word against the police officer's word - or as is often the case - several police officers all saying the same thing. Also, the state's attorney always is going to protect and defend the police.
These cases can often be difficult to defend and often require significant investigation to track down eyewitnesses and video evidence, and police body cams to prove your version of the facts. This is a serious charge, and you are fighting against the word of a police officer. Hence, you need the services of a tenacious Stamford criminal defense attorney who has experience defending allegations of interfering with police and who will fight back with an aggressive defense strategy to expose the weaknesses in the state's case.What Kinds of Behaviors / Actions Can Constitute "Interfering with Police?"
The reality is that there is no bright-line rule that establishes what constitutes interfering with police. This statute provides the police with a powerful tool to arrest anyone they want whom they feel is not complying fast enough with their orders or who is "giving them a hard time." It seems that these criteria shift wildly depending on the mood of the officer at the moment.
If you strike an officer, resist an arrest, spit at an officer, or ignore an officer's lawful order, for example, it is obvious that you are in violation of the statute. Also, refusal to cooperate with the booking process after you have been placed under arrest is another example of a violation of the statute. Many people get confused here because they think that there is a defense to this crime if the arrest was unlawful; they are entitled to resist it. This is not accurate. Even if a police arrest is illegal or erroneous, you must comply with the officer's orders. If you resisted arrest in any manner what so ever you can be arrested for interfering with an officer.
A whole other body of cases derives from attempts to mislead and provide false information to the police. Some common examples, falsely reporting an incident, providing a false name, using a false ID, misusing the 911 system, falsely reporting a crime (which is also a separate offense), lying to the police about anything that hinders or obstructs the police officer's ability to conduct a police investigation can be charged as interfering with police.
I want to share an example that I felt was really over the top and an instance of abuse of power. This is an illustration of how this statute can be abused. In this situation, my client was stopped for a minor motor vehicle stop, and when the Police officer approached his car, my client demanded to know "why are you pulling me over, I did not do anything?"Despite the fact that my client had promptly stopped when the police had activated his signal lights, provided all of his identification and vehicle documents my client was charged by the state with "interfering with an officer" because he had a "poor attitude" when he was stopped for his motor vehicle violation. Needless to say that we took that case to trial, and eventually, the state threw the charges out on the eve of the jury trial. The lesson that we learn from that example is that the police have broad power and discretion to charge you with interfering with an officer.
A really grey area is the recent trend of citizens taking an active role to help protect the rights of others being arrested by making a video of an arrest and capturing the police's actions on video. I have run across a few clients who have been arrested while making such videos and charged with interfering with police. You have an absolute right to videotape the police anytime and anywhere they are in a public area. However, when they give you a command to move away from where they are effectuating an arrest, it is not the time to engage them in a debate about your Constitutional rights and refuse to move. This will get you arrested for interfering with an officer. So I want to be clear on this subject. You have an absolute right to videotape the police making an arrest. However, if you are too close to the scene and the police feel that you pose a safety risk and ask you to move away, you must comply with their orders.
The police may ask you to submit to a frisk search known as a "terry stop"in which the police may have some probable cause to suspect that a crime may have occurred or is about to happen to look for dangerous weapons for their safety. Also, in any motor vehicle stop, if an officer has reasonable grounds to suspect that weapons may be present in the vehicle, he may search all the occupants for weapons. The failure to comply with these search requests or the resistance to them or attempts to hide weapons or contraband will result in a charge of interfering with an officer.
I wanted to spend a little time sharing you with what can NOT be charged as interfering with police. Remember, when asserting these rights, you must at all times remain friendly and calm and comply with requests to provide your name, address, and identification. Beyond that, you always have the absolute right to:
- Remain silent and refuse to answer questions without a lawyer present
- Refuse to allow police officers to enter into your home without a valid search warrant
- Refuse to engage in field sobriety tests
- You have the right to stop answering questions even if you have started to answer them at any time and request an attorney
If you have been arrested for interfering with an officer in Stamford or anywhere else in Connecticut, you should contact an experienced Connecticut criminal defense lawyer to review all of the facts and details about your arrest and work to develop a defense strategy or game plan to fight the charges. In many cases, it is your word against that of the arresting officer, which can be a tough case to defend. Often the best evidence against the charges is found through eyewitnesses who may have observed what took place or who may have been present when the incident was alleged to have occurred. It is imperative to track down these witnesses and obtain statements from them before they move or forget important details of the incident. Also, police bodycam footage is often very important to disprove these allegations. We also like to obtain information about the disciplinary history of the arresting officer.
If the facts of your interfering allegation are minor and do not involve any injury to an officer or serious public safety concern often, it may be possible to negotiate a reduction of the charges to the infraction of creating a public disturbance. This is a desirable outcome because it preserves your ability to participate in diversionary programs such as the accelerated rehabilitation program in the future. The use of the accelerated rehabilitation program should be considered a last resort unless the allegations are particularly serious, for example, when you engaged in a physical confrontation with an officer.
What is apparent is that any adequate defense against an interfering charge will require, where appropriate, an immediate motion to preserve all video evidence that the police have before they either destroy it or tape over it. If you wait too long, that evidence will be gone forever.
The best Stamford criminal defense attorneys will scrutinize every part of the state's case, the Police Report, witness statements, transcripts of 911 call recordings and all other evidence in the case with an eye towards identifying inconsistencies and contradictions which can make the difference in obtaining a favorable outcome in your case. There is no substitute for hard work and preparation when it comes to defending a charge of interfering with an officer. The good news is that in most cases where there is no actual physical injury to the arresting officer, these cases are resolved through a reduction of the charges or with the use of a diversionary program for first-time offenders.Speak with an Experienced Attorney at The Law Offices of Allan F. Friedman Today Regarding Your Interfering with an Officer Arrest
If you have been charged with interfering with an officer, an experienced Connecticut criminal defense attorney can make a difference by contesting the allegations against you and standing up for your rights. If you have been arrested for interfering with an officer, you should quickly seek the counsel of a Stamford criminal defense lawyer at the Law Offices of Allan F. Friedman to review your case. Our fees are reasonable, and we offer convenient payment plans. We accept all major credit cards. We always offer free initial consultations, and we are available 24/7 at (203) 357-5555.