Defenses to Obstructing Governmental Operations in Arkansas
I see Obstructing Governmental Operations in Arkansas most often when someone has an open warrant for their arrest and a police officer asks for their name, and of course the suspect gives a fake name. Most states refer to this charge as “Obstruction of Justice,” and summarize it as lying to the police, but of course it is a bit more complicated than that.
A person commits the offense of Obstructing Governmental Operations in Arkansas if the person:
Knowingly obstructs, impairs, or hinders the performance of any governmental function;
Falsely identifies himself or herself to a law enforcement officer or a code enforcement officer.
This section does not apply to:
(1) Unlawful flight by a person charged with an offense;
(2) Refusal to submit to arrest;
(3) Any means of avoiding compliance with the law not involving affirmative interference with a governmental function unless specifically set forth in this section; or
(4) Obstruction, impairment, or hindrance of what a person reasonably believes is a public servant’s unlawful action.
Obstructing governmental operations in Arkansas by using or threatening to use physical force is a Class A misdemeanor.
A second or subsequent offense of obstructing governmental operations in Arkansas for falsely identifying yourself to a law enforcement officer is a Class A misdemeanor.
Otherwise, obstructing governmental operations in Arkansas is a Class C misdemeanor, which carries a maximum penalty of a $500 fine and 30 days in jail.
“Governmental function” means any activity that a public servant is legally authorized to undertake on behalf of any governmental unit he or she serves.
Ark. Code Ann. § 5-54-102
Important Case Law:
Arkansas law does not permit a police officer to arrest a person for refusing to identify himself when he is not suspected of other criminal activity and his identification is not needed to protect officer safety or to resolve whatever reasonable suspicions prompted the officer to initiate an on-going traffic stop or Terry stop. Stufflebeam v. Harris, 2008.
No reasonable police officer could have believed that he had arguable probable cause to arrest, for obstruction of governmental operations or any other purported crime, citizen who, from about 50 feet away, observed police officers while they were engaged in traffic stop of two young men, and who spoke only when spoken to by officers and complied with request for identification after pointing out that he had done nothing wrong, regardless of whether state obstruction statute had been judicially construed at time of arrest, and therefore officer who arrested onlooker allegedly under such circumstances was not entitled to summary judgment based on qualified immunity in onlooker’s §§ 1983 action. Walker v. City of Pine Bluff, 2005, 414 F.3d 989.
If you want to know the average offer for Obstructing Governmental Operations in Arkansas, in Fayetteville District Court, or Washington County generally, give us a call at 479-782-1125.