Failure to Obey a Lawful Order in Scottsdale
This article is not about the Arizona statute.
Although that charge is defensible, and R&R Law Group has successfully defended those charges.
This article is about the City of Scottsdale Statute.
In their infinite wisdom (sarcasm intended), the City of Scottsdale has created a misdemeanor violation for failing to obey the lawful order of an officer.
“Refusal to Obey an Officer “No person shall refuse to obey a police officer engaged in the discharge of his duty, or any other person authorized to aid in the quelling any riot, rout or affray.”
This charge is a Class 1 Misdemeanor.
They have definitions no doubt, undoubtedly vague definitions, and that’s probably why Scottsdale chose the words.
Unlike the more specific Arizona Statute, Scottsdale, in our opinion, has designed their city code to be broad, with sweeping language they can try to encompass actions that just merely upset their officers.
Essentially, contempt of cop.
In our experience and opinion, Caron Close, the Scottsdale City Prosecutor, strongly dislikes people who dare to speak against officers.
If you are charged with a crime in which the police officer is the subject, she has created policies designed to make you plea guilty.
She tends to be a strong a supporter of police regardless of their contributing actions.
The Scottsdale Police Officers know about her policies and will excessively charge the Failure to Obey a Lawful Order offense for virtually anything.
How can the City create it’s own law for Failure to Obey?
Although the City does not have a legislative body, it is permitted to enforce their own code.
This has been broadly expanded to include criminal violations.
The reason why Scottsdale Police Officers frequently charge “Failure to Obey” is simple, MONEY.
The city makes more money off of a fine charged under the City Code than they do for crimes charged under Arizona Revised Statutes.
When you have a vibrant downtown area, overzealous officers and aggressive officers, and a city code with a fine and a criminal conviction, you have a recipe for money.
For example, during the fiscal year of 2014-2015 the City of Scottsdale Court had a revenue (fines) of 7.8 million dollars according to the Goldwater Institute, and an operating budget of 4.7 million dollars.
That’s a 3.1 million dollar profit.
In our opinion, the profit is largely generated by an understanding to charge, convict, and fine the citizens and visitors to Scottsdale.
Broad city codes help with that process.
By creating their own city code, broadly construed they frequently apply that code to individuals’ actions.
Now, when an officer asks you for I.D. and you respond with, why, you could potentially be charged with failure to obey (We have had cases with similar fact patterns).
What are the defenses to Failure to Obey charges?
First and foremost, the officer must be engaged in the discharge of his duty.
If there is no legitimate reason to stop and speak to you then the officer cannot charge you with failure to obey.
For example, if you are simply walking down the street and a Scottsdale Officer say, “hey come here and talk to me” he has no reason to expect that your actions were consistent with committing a crime.
His order is an illegal seizure and your failure to abide by his order is not a crime.
However, officers are invested with a tremendous amount of power in the United States, and even though they frequently give unlawful orders, they will still expect that people have to do what they say.
Its very important that you never fight with a police officer. If you believe they acted illegally, wait and handle the matter in Court.
Most recently, under the advice of the Scottsdale Prosecutor’s Office and Caron Close, officers were charging failure to obey when a DUI suspect was served a warrant, gave a blood sample, but refused to blow into a breath testing device.
Ofc. Roberson, and Ofc. Rowley were known to stack cases by adding this charge.
The theory was that the officers were engaged in their lawful duty of effecting the search warrant.
The suspects failure to blow constituted a refusal to obey.
This was recently challenged in the Scottsdale Court and the Court found that the search warrant authorizes the taking of blood, but does not direct the suspect to blow, thus the officer could not create an official duty by adding a requirement to the warrant.
The defense to this charge will be fact specific.
A lot will depend on the interaction between the person and the officer, what was said, what actions were taken, and what the reason for the interaction with police was.
Fact specific defense can be very good for defendants. Don’t feel pressured to plea if you believe you were wrongly charged. Look at your options and exercise your rights.
I was downtown and the officer arrested me for resisting arrest and failure to obey what do I do now?
Unfortunately, a lot of people find themselves in this situation.
Most of the time the situation is started by a disagreement in a bar, usually an overly aggressive bouncer assaults an individual.
The individual is removed from the bar and the police are called. While the individual is outside arguing with bar staff the police arrive.
They run to the situation. Physically engage the citizen, hit them, tackle them and push them to the round. The entire time the police are likely yelling, “Stop resisting” and “I gave you a lawful order.”
During the investigation the police will talk to the bar staff, but will not ask anyone else what happened.
The citizen will be charged with assault, theft of services, disorderly conduct, public nuisance, or some other broad statute along with failure to obey.
You will be taken to jail, and either released on bond or held to see a judge who will release you on bond.
You will be given a court date and required to attend. At the first pre-trial conference the prosecutor will hand you a plea and a piece of paper explaining how to obtain evidence.
Scottsdale will charge you for the police report, videos of the event, and any other discovery you ask for. After a couple pre-trial conferences, you will be told to accept the plea of set the case for trial.
When going through this process it is important to remember you have the right int interview the officers.
You will want to schedule and audio record those interviews.
There is nothing illegal about recording the interview.
Make sure to ask the officer about how he approached you, what he said first, did he identify himself as a police officer, what was the reason for approaching, who else did he speak to on the scene when he did his investigation, and other factual questions.
Make sure to request the On Body Camera’s from the officers. Scottsdale will charge you per video. That’s another way they make money.
Try to review the videos before conducting the interviews.
You will want to see what was caught on camera.
Us the subpoena power of the court to subpoena video evidence from inside the bar, remember, if there was no reason to contact you than the officer did not have authority to order you to do anything.
If your interviews and discovery research reveal facts helpful to your case, consider sharing them with the prosecutor and asking them to deviate from their office policies.
You may end up with a better plea offer.
Finally, make sure to have your evidence well documented and readily available for trial. Write down what you will be using in your trial on a piece of paper and give it to the prosecutor.
When you are in trial have multiple copies of documents and videos to provide to the Court and prosecutor. Finally try not to be nervous. State your case in plain terms, and don’t stray off topic.
Don’t be afraid of the process that will prevent you from having a criminal conviction.
If you need help, call R&R Law Group, we have a team of experienced attorney ready to help you in your case.