What is Obstructing a Peace Officer?
Obstructing a peace officer means to interfere with, resist or omit to assist a peace officer during the lawful execution of duty.
It generally requires a definite action rather than remaining silent or passive and it needs to be an intentional act against someone you are aware is a peace officer.
The charge may also apply if you willfully obstruct someone giving lawful aid to a peace officer.
While it may not sound like a major crime, it can be treated harshly, especially if you have prior convictions or there are aggravating circumstances. In extreme cases, it can be an indictable offence resulting in up to two years in prison.
What is a peace officer?
The term “peace officer” includes a wide range of authority positions. The following is not an exhaustive list but provides an idea of the types of official positions that are classified as a peace officer:
- Police officers
- Canadian Forces officers
- Customs officers
What are some examples of obstructing a police officer?
- Lying to or misleading a policeman who questions you
- Directly disobeying an order from a peace officer
- Running away from a peace officer
- Providing a fake name to police
- Hiding evidence at a crime scene
Penalties and defences for obstructing a peace officer
The potential penalties
Most cases of obstructing a peace officer in Calgary proceed as summary offences.
This means that the prospect of jail time is unlikely providing you are supported by a criminal defence lawyer like Cory Wilson and have a relatively clean criminal record.
However, if the obstruction had serious consequences, a criminal organization was involved or the defendant has prior convictions, the situation can be more serious.
Cory Wilson may be able to persuade the judge to agree to a discharge (i.e., a guilty verdict but no criminal conviction) or a fine and/or probation (up to three years).
Other long-term consequences include potential difficulties in finding employment and immigration issues for non-Canadian citizens. International travel may also be affected.
The potential defences
When your lawyer learns the facts of the case and the evidence against you, one of the following defences may be an option:
- Violation of constitutional rights: unless the police observed your charter rights during the arrest, their actions could be used in your defence.
- Unlawful exercise of duty: if an officer overstepped his or her authority during the arrest process, you cannot be convicted of obstructing them.
- Factual innocence: if the facts and the evidence do not support you being present, knowing the person was a peace officer, or obstructing them, it can be a valid defence.
- No intent: if you can provide an argument that you did not intend to obstruct the officer, it may be enough to prevent a conviction.
What can I do if I’m charged with obstructing a peace officer?
Firstly, if you are stopped and questioned by a police officer, it’s generally best to comply with demands and stay on the officer’s “good side”.
However, everybody knows that situations can escalate and altercations may result. If this leads to a charge of obstructing a peace officer (or a similar charge like disorderly conduct), do not try and talk your way out of it.
Do not simply accept the charge but, at the same time, your words could get you into more trouble. It’s best to stay calm and ask to speak to a criminal defence lawyer.
Cory Wilson will attempt to prevent the potentially serious consequences of a criminal conviction for your future. You still have hope if you are charged because to secure a conviction is no simple matter.
The prosecution needs to prove the following five elements:
- You obstructed a peace or public officer
- The officer was lawfully carrying out their duty when obstructed
- Your actions affected the officer’s ability to perform their duty
- You were aware that the individual was a peace officer
- Your actions were intentional
Cory Wilson will aim to make this as tough as possible for the prosecution as he defends your rights and freedoms.
Call us to arrange a confidential consultation
To speak with Cory Wilson or arrange a free, no-obligation consultation with Wilson Criminal Defence, call 403-978-6052 or email us here.
Cory has represented individuals from all walks of life including lawyers, police officers, athletes, corporate executives, teachers, and everything in between. Cory believes in access to justice for every person charged with a criminal offence regardless of their economic background.