PrainLaw,PLLC is a Criminal Defense firm that concentrates on a very special group of offenses, including Resisting and Obstructing a Police Officer. The actual name of this crime is “Assaulting, Battering, Resisting, Obstructing, Opposing Person Performing Duty.” However, it actually covers 7 different things:
Even though it covers these 7 different things, it is usually just called Resisting and Obstructing (R&O) for short. You only have to do one of these things to be guilty under the definition of Resisting and Obstructing a Police Officer in Michigan.
Resisting and Obstructing a Police Officer in Michigan (R&O) is a felony “punishable by imprisonment for not more than 2 years or a fine of not more than $2,000.00, or both.”
At trial, the Prosecution must prove each of the following beyond a reasonable doubt:
First, that you assaulted, battered, wounded, resisted, obstructed, opposed, or endangered a Police Officer. “Obstruct” includes the use or threatened use of physical force or a knowing failure to comply with a lawful command. If it is “resisting,” you must have actually resisted by what you said or did, but physical violence is not necessary.
Second, that you knew or had reason to know that the person was a Police Officer performing his or her duties at the time.
The short answer is that it depends. In Michigan, Resisting and Obstructing a Police Officer can be charged under local ordinance as a misdemeanor, punishable by 1 year in County Jail or less, or it can be charged under State law as a felony punishable by up to 2 years in State Prison. Click here to learn more about this distinction in our article Is Resisting and Obstructing a Felony or Misdemeanor in Michigan?
It means that you are charged with Attempted Resisting and Obstructing a Police Officer. An attempt means you intended to commit the crime and took action beyond just preparing for it, but the crime could not be completed because of some type of outside interruption. An attempt generally reduces the maximum possible Jail or Prison term by one-half; the maximum possible penalty for Attempted Resisting and Obstructing a Police Officer in Michigan is 1 year in Jail.
Absolutely not! Because PrainLaw, PLLC concentrates on defending those accused of this crime, this is a question we answer every day. You cannot be guilty of a crime for exercising your rights. Prosecutors know this, but the Police Officers out there arresting people don’t seem to understand this. Often times, when a citizen exercises their rights, Police take this offensively and get angry.
Make no mistake, Police are there to find reasons to arrest you – period. When you exercise your rights, it makes their job harder and gives them a reason to make trumped-up claims against you – like claiming you “resisted” when you didn’t. Sometimes, it’s the Officer’s actions that need to be put on trial. Michigan criminal defense attorney Brian J. Prain is an expert at that. Don’t believe this really happens? CLICK HERE for a CNN video report of a cop fired for threatening false Resisting and Obstructing charges (didn’t know he was being videotaped).
YES! The Michigan Supreme Court made this ruling in 2012 in a case called People v. Moreno. You have an absolute right to resist (even physically at times) any unlawful Police action, including arrest. If you are facing a Michigan Resisting and Obstructing charge, call attorney Brian J. Prain of PrainLaw, PLLC to evaluate whether your arrest was unlawful. Even if you did physically resist arrest, that resisting can’t be the basis for a Resisting & Obstructing charge when they had no other valid reason to arrest you in the first place.
Absolutely not! The U.S. Supreme Court said so in a case called City of Houston Texas v. Hill. Michigan has similar cases. You have an absolute 1st Amendment right to criticize your government, including the Police Officers who work for it. This is another topic that leads to many unlawful arrests because Police are easily offended by verbal criticism. However, you lose this right if your words become “fighting words” or “obscenity.”
A common scenario we see at PrainLaw, PLLC may go something like this: someone verbally challenges the actions of a Police Officer on the sidewalk, then refuses to give the Officer his or her ID. Then, another Officer tries to handcuff them and they resist. The cops scream “Stop resisting! Stop resisting!”, and arrest the person for 2 counts of Resisting and Obstructing. Does this sound familiar? These R and O charges would be totally UNLAWFUL.
Yes. You can also be charged with Resisting and Obstructing in Michigan upon: a security officer of the department of state police, a campus officer, a conservation officer of the DNR or DEQ, a Federal agent, a firefighter, an EMT or other paramedic, or a search and rescue worker.
If (and only if) you are convicted of Resisting and Obstructing in Michigan under MCL 750.81d, and you have never been convicted of a Felony before, you are guilty of a Felony punishable by “imprisonment for not more than 2 years or a fine of not more than $2,000.00, or both.”
In any case, the penalties can be much more severe if you are charged as an “Habitual Offender.”
Whether or not you will actually receive Jail or Prison time in your Resisting and Obstructing a Police Officer case depends on the severity of your alleged actions, how the charges are defended, and the effectiveness of your Michigan Resisting and Obstructing defense attorney.
If you are facing an R&O charge in Michigan, your actual possible range of incarceration time will be calculated under the Michigan Sentencing Guidelines. Your Guidelines need to be scored at the start of your case, not at the end when it’s too late (like many lawyers do).
**IMPORTANT NOTE: Assaulting a Police Officer in Michigan is one of the few crimes that allow “Consecutive Sentencing” under MCL
Here’s the bottom-line: instead of focusing on how much Jail or Prison time you could get, why not focus on being found NOT GUILTY?
Brian J. Prain has written many other articles on defending Resisting and Obstructing charges. Click this link to search them all: