Washington law states that you commit a crime if you interfere with a law enforcement officer in the performance of his or her official duties. The offense is charged as a gross misdemeanor (as opposed to a felony) and can result in a jail term of up to one year. Please contact a skilled criminal defense attorney now to challenge any type of obstruction charge.

What is Obstructing a Law Enforcement Officer Under Washington Law?

RCW 9A.76.020 is the Washington statute that sets forth the crime of obstructing a law enforcement officer. Per this law, you are guilty of committing an offense if you:

  1. Willfully hinder, delay, or obstruct any law enforcement officer, and
  2. Do so while the officer is performing his or her official duties.

Consider, for example, the scenario where you are with a friend who the police are trying to handcuff on suspicion of assaulting another person. In an attempt to prevent the arrest, you grab your friend and try and free him from the police. Here, you are guilty of obstructing a law enforcement officer since you interfered with the police officer while the officer was trying to make an arrest.

Note that a “law enforcement officer” is defined as any general authority, limited authority, or specially commissioned Washington peace officer or federal peace officer.

What are the Penalties?

Obstructing a law enforcement officer is a gross misdemeanor under Washington law. The crime is punishable by:

  • Imprisonment in county jail for up to one year, and/or
  • A fine of up to $5,000.

Can a Defendant Raise a Legal Defense?

Yes. You have the right to challenge an obstruction charge with a legal defense. A common defense is to show that while you may have interfered with an officer, you did not do so while the officer was on duty in while performing his or her official powers. But note that, depending on the circumstances, the interference may give rise to other charges.

Your criminal defense attorney can also raise the defense that you did not interfere with an officer on purpose. Recall that you are only guilty of this crime if you acted “willfully.” Therefore, you can always try to contest a charge by showing that you interfered with an officer on accident.

Contact Black & Askerov for Help

While a defendant can raise a legal defense to challenge an obstruction charge, it will take a skilled criminal defense attorney to raise the best defense. The experienced criminal defense attorneys at Black & Askerov have over 30 years of combined experience defending clients on various misdemeanor charges. Our Seattle criminal defense lawyers also have the skill and commitment that makes all the difference in these cases. Contact us now to get the legal help you deserve!

* Main image at top by Freepik