Man Arrested After Taping Arrest with Cell Phone
Lazaro Estrada, a freelance disc jockey, was working at a promotional event on St. Patrick’s Day when police arrived to arrest store owner, Andre Trigiano on outstanding traffic charges. Estrada says that he began taping the incident after police handcuffed Trigiano, removed him from the store and threw him to the ground. The video shows a handcuffed Trigiano standing with the police officer about twenty feet from Estrada. It shows the officer tell two women, who were standing much closer, to step back, and one of the women telling Estrada to step back. The officer then says something that cannot be understood on the video, and Estrada immediately retreats into the store, where he remains until the video shows offers pulling him out of the store.
Florida Obstruction of Justice Laws
According to Florida Statutes Title XLVI, Chapter 843.02, a person is guilty of resisting an officer without violence to his or her person if they “resist, obstruct or oppose” any officer (http://www.leg.state.fl.us/Statutes/index.cfm?App_mode=Display_Statute&Search_String=&URL=0800-0899/0843/Sections/0843.02.html). If convicted, the person is guilty of a misdemeanor in the first degree and could be sentenced to up to one year in jail (http://www.leg.state.fl.us/statutes/index.cfm?App_mode=Display_Statute&URL=0700-0799/0775/Sections/0775.082.html). According to the arrest report, Miami-Dade Officer Michael Valdez claimed that he gave Estrada verbal commands to back away and he refused to do so, and that the officer felt “threatened” by Estrada’s presence. However, the video clearly shows that Officer Valdez only motioned once for Estrada to step back, and that he did so immediately, retreating back into the store. At no point did Estrada interfere, impede or obstruct the officer as he arrested Trigiano, according to his Miami criminal defense lawyer.
Obstruction of justice is a common charge in the Miami-Dade area, according to Miami criminal defense lawyer, Kenneth Hassett. Because the statute is vague, police officers often consider even minor infractions cause for arrest under the statute. In order for Estrada to be convicted, the state’s attorney will have to prove without a reasonable doubt that he obstructed, impeded or interfered with the arrest of Trigiano. The penalties for obstruction of justice in Florida are relatively tough, with those convicted possibly sentenced to up to one year in jail. Therefore, anyone who has been charged with obstruction of justice should seek the advice of a qualified Miami criminal defense lawyer.
In Estrada’s case, there is significant video evidence to indicate that he did not obstruct the actions of the police, yet he has had to hire a Miami criminal defense lawyer, and may have to attend multiple court hearings due to what appears to be an overreaction of a Miami police officer. If you or a loved one has been charged with obstruction of justice, contact our office to speak to a Miami criminal defense lawyer who can provide you with the advice you need to succeed in your case.