Obstruction of a law enforcement officer can be either a misdemeanor or a felony depending on the facts of the case. The Statute governing Obstruction of a Law Enforcement Officer can be found at O.C.G.A. 16-10-24. If the case is prosecuted as a misdemeanor in DeKalb County, the DeKalb County Solicitor’s Office will prosecute the case, whereby if it is a felony charge, it will be sent to the DeKalb County District Attorney’s Office. The biggest difference between a misdemeanor obstruction case and the felony obstruction case is the maximum punishment if convicted. If you have been arrested in DeKalb County for Obstruction of a Law Enforcement Officer, the first step is to be brought in front of a DeKalb Magistrate Judge for a First Appearance hearing. At the First Appearance hearing, the Judge will read off the charges, notify you of your rights, and possibly set a bond. An attorney can be present at this stage to advocate for a reasonable bond.
DeKalb County Misdemeanor Obstruction
Misdemeanor obstruction is when one knowingly and willingly obstructs or hinders a law enforcement officer in the discharge of his or her lawful duties. This includes police officers, but also probation officers, jailers, or game wardens.
There are a few ways one can “obstruct” an officer under Georgia law. First, you can prevent an officer from discharging their official duties by running away, arguing, lying, or doing something that makes it more difficult or completely prevents them from doing their job. This would be classified as misdemeanor obstruction in Georgia and is punishable by up to twelve months in jail and/or a fine of up to $1,000. You don’t have to make any physical contact with the officer to be charged with misdemeanor obstruction. Felony obstruction, on the other hand, typically does involve physical contact with an officer, or a threat of violence.
DeKalb County Felony Obstruction
Felony Obstruction is more serious under Georgia law and typically involves violence or threats of violence. If you make violent contact with an officer in the process of he or she discharging their legal duties, or you threaten violence on an officer, you may be charged with felony obstruction of justice. Felony obstruction, both in DeKalb and across the State, carries a mandatory one-to-five year sentence for a first offense. It is a mandatory 2 to 10 years on a second offense, and 3 to 15 years on a third.
Defenses to Obstruction in DeKalb County and in Georgia
Both felony and misdemeanor Obstruction of Law Enforcement cases are taken seriously in the DeKalb County justice system and throughout the State. There are, however, numerous defenses. For example, it is not against the law to obstruct a police officer during an unlawful arrest. Under Georgia law, it is also not Obstruction of a Law Enforcement to Officer to not immediately respond to an officer’s order. In order to obstruct, there must first be a clear command by law enforcement, not simply a request. As you can see, Obstruction of Law Enforcement is a fact-based inquiry under Georgia law. If you have been charged with Obstruction of a Law Enforcement Officer, call us today at 404-581-0999 so we can get you into the office for a free consultation.