Obstruction by Wearing a Disguise
Chapter 843 of the Florida State Statutes deals with obstructions of justice. There are many different ways to obstruct justice such as resisting an officer by running away or punching them, sneaking tools into a jail, pretending to be a police officer or having a police badge, or escaping from jail.
Florida Statute 843.03 seeks to prevent individuals from disguising themselves to prevent law enforcement officers from doing their job. For example, a person fleeing law enforcement who puts on a wig and mustache would be violating this statute. Just putting on articles of clothing would not be violating this statute because some articles of clothing do not change the appearance of the person so they are unrecognizable visually. See Hartley v. State. The putting on of clothes or other objects has to rise to the level of changing the appearance. Furthermore, giving a fake name and date of birth is not a violation of this statute because that is not changing the visual appearance of the person. See Faith v. State.
The obstruction must be done towards an officer and not just anyone. This statute says any officer as defined in Statute 832.01 which references Florida Statute 943.10. An officer is any law enforcement officer, correctional officer, correctional probation officer, part-time law enforcement officer, auxiliary law enforcement officer, or auxiliary corrections officer.What the State Prosecutor has to Prove to Convict a Defendant of This Crime
The state has to prove beyond a reasonable doubt:
- The defendant disguised himself;
- By the disguise, defendant intended to:
- Obstruct the due execution of the law; or
- Intimidate, hinder, or interrupt the officer which the defendant knew or should have known was a law enforcement officer; and
- The officer was engaged in the legal performance of his duties or the exercise of his rights under the constitution or laws of this state.
A disguise is the changing of appearance such as clothing or hair. This is like in the movies where a person puts on a wig, mustache, glasses, and changes clothes. They are trying to make themselves visually look like another person. If the person just changes clothes after a robbery, it could be argued that they are not attempting to disguise themselves but dressing normally.Defenses
These cases can be defended. The facts are key to determining if this crime was committed or not. Did the defendant have another good reason to change his appearance? Was the defendant’s appearance really changed? Was it cold out and they decided to put on more clothes or was it warm outside and they decided to take off clothes?Punishment
Anyone who commits this crime will be guilty of a first-degree misdemeanor which can be punished up to 365 days in jail and a $1,000 fine.Contact the Law Office of Roger P. Foley, P.A.
If you have been arrested and charged with this crime, call our law offices. We can schedule a free 15 minute case strategy to meet with you. We want to hear your side of the story and discuss the facts of the case with you. The facts you give us are very important because we will use them to create a defense strategy. We will investigate your case by finding out what evidence the prosecutor has and by taking depositions of the police officers to find out what they observed. All this information will help us negotiate with the prosecutor about your case. If the prosecutor does not agree with our negotiation proposals, we can argue your case to the judge or even jury. Know that we will represent you aggressively at whatever stage your case is at. Call today so we can start working for you.