What Does Obstructing an Officer Mean?


As a good citizen of a country, everybody should know the rules, regulations, and laws of his/her country. It is essential not only for increasing knowledge but also to avoid penalties and unwanted situations. Obstructing the police officers is one of the most common unwanted penalties. Most of the peoples don’t aware about what does obstructing an officer means!

For example, think that a police officer is trying to arrest you, and you resist that. It’s a crime, and you may get imprisonment for it even if you didn’t do any violence. Unfortunately, many people in different societies don’t know many laws like this.

That is why here we are going to discuss what does obstructing an officer means and what are the penalties and possible defenses for this case. We hope this article will help you know how to act with police or law enforcement officers and avoid unwanted situations. Besides, if you need a consultation about this kind of situation then contact an experienced lawyer right now.

What does “resisting or obstructing an officer” mean?

Law enforcement officers are always at our side to give the best living experience. But some people make it very complex by not cooperating with them. Some people prevent them from doing their duties. Obstructing or resisting an officer is the kind of crime people commit. It can be a severe crime sometimes.

However, simply resisting or obstructing an officer means willingly or knowingly resisting or obstructing a law enforcement officer, correctional officer, probation officer, police officer, prison guard, and so on in lawful discharge of his/her all official duties by doing different types of violence. There are many ways for being accused of resisting or obstructing an officer. Some examples are as follows:

  1. Trying to resist arrest,
  2. Resisting a police investigation,
  3. Provide false or misleading information to a law enforcement officer,
  4. Threatening an officer,
  5. Lying an officer,
  6. Running from a law enforcement officer,
  7. Hitting an officer, etc.

These are the most common examples of obstructing an officer. If you do these things intentionally, you will get different types of penalties. The maximum penalty for resisting or obstructing an officer without any physical harm or medical emergencies is around a $5000 fine or one-year imprisonment, or both.

If any medical emergencies needed for any physical harm, then the penalties will be 4-year imprisonment or a $5000 fine, or both. If the injury is severe, then it will be a $10000 fine or 10-years imprisonment, or both.

In some cases, the results of the obstruction may be severe, which can cause even death. In this kind of case, the criminal will get a $20,000 fine or 20 years imprisonment, or both. According to the severity of the case, the penalties may be changed.

What does “obstructing or opposing an officer without violence” mean?

Obstructing or opposing an officer without violence means generally non-violent obstruction of any law enforcement officer when s/he is doing his or her duty, including investigation, arrest, and so on. This one is the first degree of obstruction where no violence is involved. Some examples can help to understand better:

  1. Not following the verbal command of the law enforcement officer,
  2. Extending the arms while putting on the handcuffs.
  3. Trying to avoid handcuffs,
  4. Refusing to be seated down,
  5. Preventing police investigation,
  6. Refusing to leave an area,
  7. Hiding evidence,
  8. Giving false or misleading information to the officers, etc.

So, these are mainly the most common examples of obstructing or resisting an officer without violence. Here, the penalty is not so hard. A person accused of obstructing or opposing an officer without violence will have to give a $5000 fine or get six months to one year imprisonment or both.

However, there have some strict rules for being accused of this type of obstruction case. The prosecution must prove four essential elements to prove someone as a criminal in this type of case. These four required proofs are as follows:

  1. The defendant must resist, obstruct or oppose a law enforcement officer,
  2. The law enforcement officer has to be on duty at the time of obstruction,
  3. The law enforcement officer has to be the legally authorized person to act,
  4. And the defendant must be known that the victim or the person who resists is a law enforcement officer.

After proving these four elements, the defendant will finally be the accused person obstructing or opposing a law enforcement officer.

Are any legal defenses available if a person is accused of resisting, delaying, or obstructing an officer?

There are some possible defenses available for the accused of resisting or obstructing a law enforcement officer. These are as follows:

Lack of evidence:

Evidence is the essential thing in every criminal case. The prosecution must show reasonable evidence against the accused person for proving him/her legally unlawful. If they don’t have enough evidence, they can go on the court. And ultimately, you will be discharged from the case.


To err is human. Law enforcement officers are also human beings and can make mistakes. The officers can charge an innocent person. In that case, they will not prove any evidence against you, and you will get an easy bail.

Lack of probable cause for arrest:

Officers must have a reasonable cause for arrest. For instance, if a law enforcement officer chases down a person running on the street without asking him to stop, it will be reasonable to arrest the person. It doesn’t make any sense. The officer can be an honest or loyal person. They may have some problem, and that can be your possible defense.

Lack of intent:

A person accused of obstructing or resisting a law enforcement officer must willingly, knowingly, and intentionally obstruct the officer. If s/he didn’t do the obstruction intentionally, he would be discharged from this type of case very quickly. In that case, the person has to prove that he didn’t do it intentionally.

These are mainly the possible defenses for the accused of obstructing a law enforcement officer’s case. However, you may also get some other defense available in your case. Here an experienced lawyer can help you find the best defense for you.

Wrapping Up

Obstructing an officer is a severe criminal charge sometimes. The convicted person can get one year to 20years of imprisonment in this type of case, depending on the severity of the case. Sometimes it can be very critical. So, depending on the severity, you should hire an attorney for your case to get the easiest bail.

However, in this article, we have conducted a detailed discussion on what obstructing an officer means. Besides, some essential related topics are also discussed here. Hopefully, you have got everything here in this article that you were searching for. Then again, if you have any confusion regarding this topic, feel free to ask in the comment section.