Written by attorney Daniel P. Hilf

Resisting and Obstructing Police

Resisting and Obstructing Police (R & O) can be charged as a 90 day local ordinance violation, a 1 year misdemeanor (pursuant to MCL 324.1608), or a felony (pursuant to MCL 750.479 or MCL 750.81d). What constitutes Resisting and Obstructing is very broad. In most instances, the offense is charged as a felony. Examples of Resisting and Obstructing include: trying to prevent the officer from handcuffing; running from the police; telling a police officer that he or she will not submit to the blood draw when a warrant is obtained; preventing a nurse from performing a Court ordered blood draw; failing to step out of the vehicle when asked; refusing to comply with a police officer’s detention when he or she is issuing a traffic citation, etc.

The law in Michigan provides that a person shall not knowingly and willfully assault, batter, wound, obstruct, or endanger a police officer acting in the performance of his or her duties. The penalties for this offense are as follows:

1) A person who violates this law can be charged with a 2 year maximum felony, a fine of not more than $2,000, or both;

2) A person who violates this law and by that violation causes bodily injury requiring medical attention or medical care can be charged with a 4 year maximum felony, a fine of not more than $5,000, or both;

3) A person who violates this law and by that violation causes serious impairment of a body function can be charged with a 10 year maximum felony, a fine of not more than $10,000, or both;

4) A person who violates this law and by that violation causes the death of an individual, a fine of not more than $20,000, or both;

"Willfully" means that the Defendant intended to resist or obstruct. "Knowingly" means that the Defendant knew that the person was a police officer.

The Court may order any imprisonment for this offense to be served consecutively to any other term of imprisonment imposed for a violation arising out of the same criminal transaction. For example, if an individual was arrested with a concealed gun without a CCW permit, and then struggled with police officers in order to escape the possible charges would include Resisting and Obstructing a Police Officer and Carrying a Concealed Weapon. It would be up to the sentencing Judge to exercise his or her discretion to sentence concurrently (serving the sentences for each crime at the same time) or consecutively (a stacked sentence - the sentence for one offense begins after another sentence ends)Sentencing for felony offenses in Michigan are controlled by sentencing guidelines.

Even if the police officer makes an illegal arrest, the law in Michigan does not allow an individual to resist, oppose, obstruct, assault, batter, wound, or endanger an officer. The remedy for an illegal arrest, according to the Michigan Court of Appeals, is a civil lawsuit. Intoxication also is not a defense to Resisting and Obstructing a Police Officer.

Defenses that are often asserted during these type of trial are: the Defendant was not resisting or obstructing the officer; the Defendant did not know that the person apprehending him or her was an officer performing duties (which sometimes happens when the officers were performing duties undercover); for an illegal arrest, the argument can be made that the officer was not performing his or her duties (however, it should be noted that the prosecution does not have to prove that the police officer’s arrest was lawful).

An experienced criminal defense attorney is needed when it comes to drug cases:

  1. An experienced criminal defense attorney can pursue dismissal or suppression of evidence based upon Constitutional grounds when appropriate;

  2. An experienced criminal defense attorney can raise necessary defenses to attempt to win at trial.

  3. An experienced criminal defense attorney can sometimes negotiate a plea bargain or sentencing agreement favorable to the Defendant. The criminal defense attorney can argue for HYTA when applicable. Drug treatment is also an option in many cases, which can often eliminate or reduce jail time.

  4. An experienced criminal defense attorney can challenge the scoring of Michigan sentencing guidelines to try and lower the potential sentence, and argue for a downward departure from Michigan sentencing guidelines when necessary.

Sometimes in life you only have 1 opportunty to reach the right result. Hiring the right criminal defense lawyer may be one of the most important decisions you make for yourself and your family. There are many lawyers who claim to do more than what they are able - just as there are many surgeons in the world that are no better than butchers. Do not settle for a legal hack job. Practicing law is a skill that develops over time with experience, commitment, dedication, and God given talent. There are no amateur attorneys at Hilf & Hilf, PLC – only professionals that are guided by the humanity in the individuals we serve, and the drive not to settle for what is easy over what is right.

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