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Florida prosecutor announces new resisting arrest policy

A Florida prosecutor says that her office will no longer pursue most resisting arrest charges. The state attorney, who represents almost 1.8 million Osceola and Orange County residents, says that police are misusing resisting charges. According to media outlets, the policy, which was announced on Oct. 3, is likely to draw the attention of state officials including Governor Ron DeSantis. The prosecutor involved also tangled with former Governor Rick Scott over her reluctance to pursue the death penalty.

Watching a video

Under the policy, offenders charged with resisting arrest will be required to watch a 30-minute video about importance of complying with police orders, but they will not face criminal sanctions. The policy will not apply to violent offenders or individuals who have a recent prior resisting arrest charge on their records. The prosecutor says that the people most affected by the policy will be African Americans as crime figures reveal that they are arrested for resisting arrest almost twice as often as any other demographic group.

Police opposition

Senior law enforcement officials have criticized the policy. They say that refusing to prosecute resisting arrest charges will encourage lawlessness and could place the lives of officers in danger. They also point out that offenders who are ordered to watch the video can simply fast-forward to the end and receive a certificate of completion. However, the officials conceded that the video made several worthwhile points.

Alternatives to fines and jail

Experienced criminal law attorneys may support measures like this one that prioritize rehabilitation over punishment. If you are charged with a nonviolent crime like drug possession, drunk driving or refusing to obey a police officer, an attorney might argue that society would be better served if you are spared jail or fines and ordered to perform community service, attend a victim impact panel or receive substance abuse counseling instead.

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