Illinois Resisting or Obstructing a Peace Officer, Firefighter or Correctional Institution Employee

The Law – 720 ILCS 5/31-1

No person shall knowingly resist or obstruct the performance by one known to the person to be a peace officer, firefighter or correctional institution employee of any authorized act within his official capacity.

Peace (police) officers, firefighters and correctional institution employees are treated the same with regard to the obstructing or resisting offense in Illinois. While the Resisting or Obstructing is often an additional charge when an individual is arrested, Resisting or Obstructing can be a single, stand-alone charge.

In order for an individual to be convicted of the offense, the state must prove that the individual 1) knowingly, 2) resisted or obstructed the performance of a peace officer, correctional institution employee or firefighter, 3) that the individual knew that the individual was in fact a peace officer, correctional institution employee or firefighter and 4) the peace officer, correctional institution employee or firefighter was executing an authorized act within his official capacity.

If a plain-clothed officer attempted to arrest an individual for a crime without first announcing his office or exhibiting other indicia of being a police officer, and the individual “resisted” the arrest, the individual would most likely not be found guilty of Resisting or Obstructing a Peace Officer. This is because the individual, or any other reasonable person in his or her shoes, would not have known that the person effectuating the arrest was indeed a law enforcement officer.

In respect to firefighters, the law explicitly creates an affirmative defense if a person resists or obstructs the performance of a firefighter by returning to or remaining in a structure to rescue or to attempt to rescue any person. This defense, however, only applies to attempts of rescuing people, not property or pets.

The Sentence

CLASS A MISDEMEANOR

  • Up to 364 days in jail
  • Fine of up to $2,500

CLASS 4 FELONY IF:

The person’s actions were the proximate cause of an injury to a Peace office, correctional institution employee or firefighter.

  • 1 to 3 years in prison
  • Fine of up to $25,000

Probation Possible? Yes

Supervision Possible? Yes on misdemeanor charge.

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James A. Payonk, Jr.

~ Attorney at Law ~

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