When it comes to arrests, the circumstances involved are often heated, emotional, or even violent. When someone sees their friend or loved one being arrested, one of his or her first inclinations may be to try and convince the officer that the arrest is not necessary. What many people in Florida do not realize, however, is that pursuant to Florida law you may be arrested for directing questions to officers while the officers are in the process of arresting another person. Even simple questions like asking where the officers are transporting the arrested individual can result in an officer making an additional arrest of the inquirer.
These arrests are often made on the basis of rules that allow police officers to make arrests for obstruction, resisting arrest without violence, and disorderly conduct. As the Florida Fourth District Court of Appeal has explained, for a police officer to arrest someone on the basis of disorderly conduct or obstruction of justice, two elements must be satisfied. First, the officer must be currently engaged in a lawful duty. Second, the officer must possess a reasonable suspicion that the individual asking questions was committing, was in the process of committing, or had committed a crime.
In cases in which an officer arrests an individual for obstruction, also known as resisting without violence, the prosecution must demonstrate that the arresting police officer had a reasonable suspicion that the arrestee had been or was involved in criminal activity.
According to the Fourth District, “[f]or reasonable suspicion justifying a detention to exist, the detaining officer must have a particularized and objective basis for suspecting the particular person stopped of criminal activity . . . The officer must be able to articulate something more than an inchoate and unparticularized suspicion or hunch.”
Whether or not a police officer’s suspicion is reasonable turns on the totality of the circumstances at play during the incident and considers only those facts known to the police officer before the arrest took place. In other words, a determination of whether the officer’s stop was reasonable cannot include an evaluation of any facts that come to light after the police officer detains or stops an individual.
Although it can be incredibly difficult to do in this situation, the best thing a bystander can do is to keep quiet, observe the scene carefully, and help their friend or loved one. You will be able to find out information about where your friend or loved one is being taken, whether he or she has been processed, and the next steps for the individual by calling the number for the local county jail.
If you or someone you know was arrested for disorderly conduct or obstruction of justice, the seasoned and aggressive Florida criminal defense lawyers at The Hoffman Firm can help. Our lead attorney has substantial experience representing Southwest Florida residents facing wrongful charges and knows what it takes to build a successful defense. Our firm handles a wide variety of criminal defense matters, including domestic violence, sexual assault, and drug crimes. Call us now at (305) 249-0090 or contact us online to set up your free appointment.