A Jacksonville Sheriff’s officer’s actions are being evaluated after detaining a young man for jaywalking and threatening to put him in jail. According to an article in the Florida Times Union, the man did not obey a walk signal and the officer detained him. After being stopped, the man began to record the interaction on his cell phone. At first, the man did not go to the officer’s car as directed because he did not know what crime/infraction he committed. When he did not listen right away, the officer threatened to arrest the man for resisting without violence, which is a first degree misdemeanor in Jacksonville. The man eventually complied and was issued a citation for jaywalking and for not having a Florida ID card or a driver’s license on his person. Once released, the man posted the video interaction with the officer on social media.
Crossing the street on a red hand is a civil infraction and you can be issued a ticket. The problem is that the jaywalking law can be selectively enforced in Jacksonville. It gives officers probable cause to stop or detain a citizen for a period of time. Very often, in certain neighborhoods, people are stopped for jaywalking, blocking the sidewalk, or riding a bicycle without a light. Once stopped, officers can say they observe a bulge resembling a weapon on the person, justifying a pat down search. If they find no weapon, but do find drugs, that person is going to be arrested for possession of a controlled substance in Duval County, which is a felony. But for the civil infraction, it would be illegal for the police to stop and search that person.
When an officer has the legal right to detain you, you cannot just walk away. Resisting an officer without violence is a first degree misdemeanor in Florida, punishable by up to one year in jail. In order to be convicted of resisting in Jacksonville, the state attorney’s office must prove that the person resisted, obstructed or opposed the officer who, at the time, was engaged in the execution of legal process or the lawful execution of a legal duty. For example, if a police officer is dealing with a situation and an onlooker intervenes, they can be arrested for this crime if the officer claims their intervention impeded the investigation. Even talking can be interpreted as resisting.