Obstruction of a law enforcement officer is a fertile topic, and we'll spend the next two or three discussions dealing with this area. Today we will discuss the basic elements of the law, and subsequently I will give you some examples and possible defenses.
Obstruction of a Law Enforcement Officer can be charged as a misdemeanor or as felony. O.C.G.A. 16-10-24(a) describes the elements of misdemeanor obstruction of a law enforcement officer, whereas 16-10-24(b) covers the felony elements. O.C.G.A. 16-10-24(a) states in essence that a misdemeanor occurs when a person knowingly and willfully obstructs or hinders any law enforcement officer in the lawful discharge of his official duties.
Alternatively, O.C.G.A. 16-10-24(b) states in essence whoever knowingly and willfully resists, obstructs, or opposes any law enforcement officer in the lawful discharge of his official duties by offering or doing violence to the person of such officer or legally authorized person is guilty of a felony and shall upon conviction be imprisoned for not less than one nor more than five years. The key difference in felony obstruction versus misdemeanor obstruction is the offering or doing violence element. A common misconception with felony obstruction is that the officer must have been injured in some way. The Georgia Court of Appeals has ruled that injury to the officer is not required to charge felony obstruction.
In the next few posts, I will get more in depth in providing examples of obstruction, as well as possible defenses. If you've been charged with a crime, call the Law Office of Robert L. Booker today!