If the police give you an order, are you obstructing a peace officer if you refuse? The answer may depend on whether your actions “materially” obstructed the officer in his or her official duties.

Under 720 ILCS 5/31-1(a) you commit a Class A misdemeanor when you knowingly resist or obstruct the performance of a police officer, firefighter, or correctional institution employee in any authorized act within their official capacity. To determine if your obstruction is material, a court looks at the length of the delay caused by your refusal, the nature of your obstruction and the nature of the officer’s authorized act.

In People v. Mehta, officers were investigating a report of a man threatening someone in a parking lot with a gun when a black SUV arrived on the scene. Officers then asked the SUV passenger to exit with his hands up and turn around. The passenger refused several times but eventually complied. The court found that passenger’s refusal caused up to a 3-minute delay which materially impeded the officers’ gun investigation. While the length of the delay was relatively minor, the obstruction occurred during a high-tension for police situation at night in a gang area where there was a suspicion of gun activity.

If you have been charged with a criminal offense, contact an experienced criminal law attorney immediately. An attorney can review your case for its best possible defense. Can the state prove all the elements of your offense beyond a reasonable doubt? Did you know the officer was an official? Did the officer act in his or her official capacity? Was your obstruction minimal rather than “material?”

If you have questions about this or another related Illinois criminal or traffic matter, please contact Matt Keenan at 847-568-0160 or email matt@mattkeenanlaw.com.

(Besides Skokie, Matt Keenan also serves the communities of Arlington Heights, Chicago, Deerfield, Des Plaines, Evanston, Glenview, Morton Grove, Mount Prospect, Niles, Northbrook, Park Ridge, Rolling Meadows, Wilmette and Winnetka.)

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