Young woman arrested for obstructing an officer

A woman was charged with obstructing an officer and third-degree assault: were the charges warranted?

In April of 2017, a huge splash was made in Fort Collins by a new release and accompanying video that seemed to make a lot of people very angry. In the video, a 22-year-old woman is thrown to the ground by a police officer. Later it was released that she ended up being charged with the crimes of obstructing an officer and with third-degree assault, because when asked to leave she had shoulder-checked the officer.

For a lot of people who learn of this story, one of the primary issues to arise is the question as to whether the girl was deserving of the amount of force demonstrated. At a deeper level, the incident sparks questions as to what should be considered obstructing an officer. While the takedown was claimed to be "standard arrest control," it may not be revealed just what instigated that reaction in the policeman until his body camera footage is released.

Was the use of force warranted?

Many look at this story and see a girl who was just trying to enjoy herself on her birthday having her night ruined by a disgruntled police officer. Those in this corner say that the girl was too small to even harm the officer. However, when the law comes into question, it is not just a matter of how dangerous someone is, but whether they are using force against an officer.

Third-degree assault: the breakdown

When identifying whether physical force can be considered a type of assault, the courts in Colorado zoom in on a few factors. Second-degree assault requires a person to intend to harm the victim. However, with third-degree assault, the assaulter need only act knowingly, even if his or her intentions were not to harm the victim. Regarding the question of the charge, can it be determined whether the woman knew what she was doing at the time?

Using force to resist arrest

The question may arise to some as to whether the arrest was lawful or not. However, in a 1984 ruling in the Supreme Court of Colorado it was established that even if an arrest is unlawful, it is still illegal for someone to try to resist using force. It appears that the viability of the charges rests on whether the woman actually did use force in the confrontation with the officer.

People in Colorado who have found themselves dealing with criminal charges may be facing the potential of steep fines, probation, or even incarceration. A sound legal representative could potentially make the results of the case less severe or even get charges dropped entirely. An attorney in the local area who practices criminal defense may be able to help in such matters.