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Resisting and Obstructing Law | Michigan R&O Attorney

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RELATED: CLICK HERE to read about Brian J. Prain's latest NOT GUILTY verdict in a Resisting and Obstructing case.

Prain Law, 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:

  • Assaulting a Police Officer
  • Battering a Police Officer
  • Wounding a Police Officer
  • Resisting a Police Officer
  • Obstructing a Police Officer
  • Opposing a Police Officer
  • Endangering a Police Officer

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.

CLICK HERE for the definitions of "Assault" and "Battery" 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.

What does the Prosecution have to prove in a Michigan Resisting and Obstructing a Police Officer charge?

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.

Is Resisting and Obstructing a Felony or Misdemeanor in Michigan?

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?

I am charged with "Attempt - Assault/Resist/Obstruct Police Officer." What does this mean?

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.

Is it Resisting and Obstructing if I refuse to answer the officer's questions, refuse a breath test, or refuse to consent to a search of my home or car?

Absolutely not! Because Prain Law, 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).

Is there a right to resist an unlawful arrest without being guilty of Resisting and Obstructing in Michigan?

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 Prain Law, 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.

Can I be guilty of Resisting and Obstructing for exercising free speech rights under the 1st Amendment?

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 Prain Law, 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.

CLICK HERE for Brian J. Prain's article on the 1st Amendment vs. Resisting and Obstructing charges...

Does Resisting and Obstructing apply to more than just "Police Officers"?

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, paramedic, or a search and rescue worker.

What is the Sentence for Resisting and Obstructing a Police Officer in Michigan? Will I go to Jail for Resisting and Obstructing?

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.

  • If you cause "bodily injury requiring medical attention or medical care," the max penalty rises to 4 years and/or $5,000.00.
  • If you cause "serious impairment of a body function," the max penalty rises to 15 years and/or $10,000.
  • If you cause death, the max penalty rises to20 years and/or $20,000.

In any case, the penalties can be much more severe if you are charged as a “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

CLICK HERE for more information on Michigan Felony Sentencing and Sentencing Guidelines…

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?

Where can I go for even more information on the Michigan Resisting and Obstructing laws?

Brian J. Prain has written many other articles on defending Resisting and Obstructing charges. Click this link to search them all:

Articles on Michigan Resisting and Obstructing charges by Attorney Brian J. Prain.

Contact Our Experienced & Skilled Detroit Criminal Defense Attorney Today

Regardless of the nature of your particular situation, you can rest assured you are in the right hands when you enlist Prain Law, PLLC on your side. If you or a loved one has been accused of resisting and obstructing the law, there is no time to waste in having our legal team create a defense aimed at successfully clearing your name. Allow us to fight for you.

To speak to a trusted member of our firm, you may do so by calling (248) 731-4543 at your earliest convenience.

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