What Does it Mean to Obstruct Official Business?

Police officers are tasked with enforcing laws and ensuring public safety. In Ohio, if a person interrupts a cop’s official duties, they could be accused of committing a crime. In fact, there are several different laws that the individual could be charged with if they do not obey a law enforcement officer’s orders or try to obstruct the officer. Depending on the circumstances, violations of these statutes can be misdemeanors or felonies.

Take this scenario: Jarrod had a few drinks at a local bar. He jumped behind the wheel of his car and started to drive home. While traveling down the road, an officer saw Jarrod weave between lanes.

The officer stopped Jarrod and asked him to roll down the window. Afraid that the cop would smell alcohol on his breath, Jarrod only opened the window a crack. The officer continued to ask that the window be rolled down all the way, but instead of complying, Jarrod closed it.

A short time later, the officer was able to get the window open by pressing on it. He ordered Jarrod to get out of the vehicle, but Jarrod refused and drove off.

What charges could Jarrod be facing?

Obstructing Official Business

One of the laws Jarrod is violating is that concerning the obstruction of a public official in the performance of their duties.

The law states that it is illegal to:

  • Prevent,
  • Obstruct,
  • Delay,
  • Hamper, or
  • Impede official work

Returning to the example with Jarrod, he refused to roll down his window or get out of his car. This refusal prevented the officer from getting the information he needed to do his job.

Jarrod’s conduct could result in a second-degree misdemeanor charge.

Failure to Comply

Jarrod’s actions didn’t only violate the obstructing official business law. They were also unlawful under the statute concerning failure to comply with a police officer. This law states that a person must obey directions given by law enforcement officials.

In Jarrod’s case, he did not roll down his window, nor did he get out of his vehicle. His conduct may be considered a violation and could result in a first-degree misdemeanor charge.

A failure to comply charge also results when a person continues to operate their vehicle after they’ve been given a clear signal from the police to stop. That means if Jarrod never pulled over for the officer, he would also be committing a first-degree misdemeanor offense.

However, he faces increased penalties if the reason he left the bar was that he had committed a felony while there. For instance, if he assaulted a peace officer called to the establishment to remove a person for trespassing. Because that is a felony, Jarrod’s refusal to pull over for the officer becomes a fourth-degree felony.

Jarrod faces even greater penalties if he seriously injured someone while driving. That offense is a third-degree felony.

Disrupting Public Services

Another law Jarrod could be considered violating is that concerning the disruption of public services.

O.R.C. 2909.04 says that it’s illegal to interrupt or impair:

  • Television,
  • Radio,
  • Telephone,
  • Telegraph,
  • Mass communication services,
  • Public service communications,
  • Radar,
  • Or other forms of communication used for public services or emergencies

The section that specifically applies to Jarrod’s case is that concerning the ability for law enforcement to protect others or property from serious harm. Returning to the original scenario with Jarrod, because he was inebriated, he put the safety of others on the road at risk. His actions could result in a fourth-degree felony charge.

If you’re facing criminal accusations in Dayton, call Rion, Rion & Rion at (937) 223-9133 or contact us online to retain the services of our experienced and dedicated attorneys.

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