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Obstructing a Peace Officer: What Does This Mean and What Should I Do?

It is always wise to cooperate with a police officer if he or she makes a simple request of you out in public. But we all know that sometimes arguments can happen between an officer and a citizen, often leading down a slippery slope to an eventual charge being laid for obstruction or disorderly conduct.

In short, ‘obstruction of a peace officer’ occurs when a person willfully obstructs a police officer from completing their duties or by obstructing someone giving lawful aid to an officer. This is a serious criminal charge and can result in huge consequences if you are found guilty anywhere in Ontario. To get a better idea of what qualifies for obstruction of a peace officer, we will take look at what the Criminal Code says.

Defining Obstruction of a Peace Officer

When a person resists or wilfully obstructs a public officer or peace officer in the execution of his duty or any person lawfully acting in aid of such an officer.

This includes any action that may hinder a police officer in the execution of their duties. Things such as resisting arrest/detainment, refusing to comply with basic orders, coercing others into lying to police, or intentionally sabotaging police activity are all grounds for a charge.

Refuses, without reasonable excuse, to assist a public officer or peace officer in the execution of his duty in arresting a person or in preserving the peace, after having reasonable notice that he is required to do so.

Along with resisting arrest, this notion iterates that when a police officer is asking for information from you in which you fully understand, and you proceed to give false information or refuse to cooperate intentionally, there are grounds for an arrest.

Resists or willfully obstructs any person in the lawful execution of a process against lands or goods or in making a lawful distress or seizure:.

This can refer to a scenario in which someone will not allow an officer into their premises with the presence of a warrant, or someone makes it lawfully difficult for an officer to take possession of confiscated property or evidence.

Penalties if Found Guilty

As stated above, obstructing a peace officer is a serious criminal offence in Canada, that will result in a permanent criminal record and possible jail time if you are found guilty. The maximum penalty for this offence in Canada is 2 years imprisonment, but the most common penalty is a $5,000 with a variable probation period or 6 months imprisonment.

What can I do if I’ve been charged?

As you can see, being found guilty of obstructing a peace officer is not a lightly treated situation. That’s why it is vital to seek that advice of a professional criminal law firm that has experience dealing with these types of cases. At Aitken Robertson our team of criminal defence lawyers can determine if your Charter rights were violated during your arrest, and where your best defence may lie in court. Remember, a guilty plea to obstructing a police officer will have serious ramifications on your future including on your ability to travel internationally, employability and overall current lifestyle. Don’t accept a guilty plea when you know your rights have been violated in the process and call Aitken Robertson at one of our multiple offices for a free 30-minute consultation about your case and how you can fight the charges!

Daniel Buchardt

Daniel Buchardt is a recent University of Guelph Marketing graduate, currently working as a contracted marketing manager with Aitken Robertson. Daniel started with the firm in the spring of 2018 at our Peterborough location, and specializes in social media management and marketing communications.

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