The duty of a police officer, whether they be on or off duty, is to maintain the peace and protection of the community. In some circumstances, police officers maybe required to lawfully interfere with a person(s) to prevent a crime from occurring or if there is reasonable belief that a crime has already occurred – which may result in an arrest. As defined under the Criminal Law Consolidation Act 1935 (SA), a police officer is considered a ‘prescribed emergency worker.’
In South Australia, a person may be charged with an offence of hinder or resist police if there has been any interference during the execution of a police officer’s duty. For example, if you are charged with ‘hinder,’ the maximum penalty is a fine of up to $2500 or 6 Months imprisonment under the Summary Offences Act 1935 (SA) section 6. This relates to any obstruction, whether that be through a physical or verbal altercation, which may cause an officer difficulty in fulfilling their duties. A person who is not directly involved in an arrest may still be charged with this offence.
If you are charged with ‘resist’ police, the same maximum penalty will apply. This offence rather relates to the physical resistance of a person which may prevent an officer arresting you. Even though a person may not use force or aggression against an officer, you may still be charged with this offence if you refuse to cooperate in the course of arrest. This can extend to your actions in a protest, if you do not follow directions.
It may be likely that you are additionally charged with ‘assault prescribed emergency worker’ if the physical act causes damage to the property of an officer or bodily injury. Under new legislation, Criminal Law Consolidation (Assaults on Prescribed Emergency Workers) Amendment Act 2019, a person who intends or is reckless to cause harm, assaults, or causes harm by hindering or resisting a police officer acting in the course of official duties will face a maximum penalty of imprisonment between 5 to 15 Years.
If you are charged with any offence against a police officer or other prescribed emergency worker, please contact Woods & Co Lawyers who will be happy to assist you.