Resisting, hindering or wilfully obstructing a police officer

What is the offence of resisting, hindering or obstructing a police officer?

The offence of Resisting, hindering or wilfully obstructing a police officer is found at sections 58 and 546C of the Crimes Act 1900.

To give yourself the best chance of beating this particular charge, the police will usually need to be discredited. This can be achieved by obtaining CCTV of the incident (this offence often occurs in public), subpoenaing police notes and entries to establish inconsistencies in the police case, and by pointing out differences in the evidence of different police officers.

If the police have acted improperly or illegally – for example the police assaulted you or had no legal basis to arrest you – then evidence of a subsequent assault by you may be excluded and the charge dismissed.

If you are charged with the offence of Resisting, hindering or wilfully obstructing a police officer, your options will normally be to plead guilty or not guilty.

Pleading not guilty

You will be found not guilty of the offence of Resisting, hindering or wilfully obstructing a police officer if the police cannot prove beyond reasonable doubt:

  1. You:
    1. Resisted the victim (resistance implies the use of force to oppose some course of action which the person resisted is attempting to pursue);
    2. Wilfully obstructed the victim (wilful obstruction implies acts on the part of the defendant which may fall short of assault but which interferes with the lawful execution of the duties of an officer e.g. officers in the course of making inquiries, causing a crowd to gather, failure to obey a lawful request);
    3. Hinders the victim (a police officer is hindered by an obstruction or interference that makes his duty substantially more difficult in performance).
  2. The victim was a police officer, other peace officer, customs house officer, sheriff’s officer, prison officer or bailiff; and
  3. The assault occurred while the victim was acting in the execution of his/her duty. However, it is not necessary to prove that you knew that the victim was an officer on duty. Further, an officer not acting within his formal work hours can be acting in the execution of his duty if the police officer’s conduct is connected with his functions as a police officer and he does not do anything outside the ambit of his duty.

Recklessness in terms of assault is established where the accused foresees the likelihood of inflicting injury or fear, and ignores the risk.

If the police are able to prove the above elements beyond reasonable doubt, you will still be found not guilty if any of the following defences can be established:

Contact our offices in Sydney, Parramatta, Blacktown or Redfern to organise a time for one of our criminal lawyers to advise you of your prospects of successfully defending the charge of Resisting, hindering or wilfully obstructing a police officer.

Pleading guilty

If you agree that you have committed the offence (and the police are able to prove so), it is best to plead guilty as you will normally receive a discount on sentence and it will demonstrate remorse and contrition. Alternatively, it may be the case that one of our experienced solicitors can negotiate with prosecutors for you to plead guilty to less serious facts or even a less serious charge.

An offence of Resisting, hindering or wilfully obstructing a police officer pursuant to section 58 of the Crimes Act carries a maximum penalty of 5 years imprisonment in the District Court and 2 years imprisonment if the matter is dealt with in the Local Court. An offence of Resisting, hindering or wilfully obstructing a police officer pursuant to section 546C of the Crimes Act carries a maximum penalty of 12 months imprisonment and/or a fine of $1,100.00. However, these maximum penalties are typically reserved for the worst offenders.

Our solicitors have a proven track record of not only keeping our clients out of gaol but also, depending on the seriousness of the allegation, having the offence dealt with by way of section 10 of the Crimes (Sentencing Procedure) Act, meaning no conviction will be recorded, there is no other penalty and you will have no criminal record. To find out more about a section 10, click here.

Penalties that a court can impose in NSW are:

Case Study

Mr Correy represented a man accused of offensive behaviour – in that he was a peeping tom in bushes watching women urinating in a park – and resisting police in that he struggled with them when they tried to arrest him. Mr Correy cross-examined the police over two days. In the end the Magistrate found that the lighting was too poor to find beyond reasonable doubt that the Accused man was not simply in the bushes to urinate himself. The police evidence was found to be so inconsistent in regard to the resist police allegation that the Magistrate found the evidence of the Accused man should be accepted over the 6 police who gave contradictory evidence. The Accused man was found not guilty of all charges.

Case Study

AC Law Group represented a young man charged with a single offence of resisting arrest with two police officer victims. The matter proceeded to hearing and our solicitor cited a defect in the indictment to which the man was charged to argue that whilst it could be argued there was evidence one police officer was resisted, there was no evidence of the second officer being resisted. The Magistrate accepted the argument and the Accused man was found not guilty on a technicality (the deficient indictment).

Case study 3

AC Law Group represented a young man accused of hindering police arresting a friend by pulling police officers off him and then resisting arrest. Our solicitor argued that his client’s charitable background, which included life saving and volunteering with the Rural Fire Service meant that not only was he of impeccable character but also not the type who could be a spectator if he perceived a wrong (correctly or not). It was argued the community and society had benefited from that aspect of his personality and the court could appropriately extend leniency where it had played a role in the offending. The Magistrate agreed and the charge was dismissed pursuant to section 10, with no criminal record being recorded.

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