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Failure to Obey a Police Officer
Massachusetts General Laws Chapter 90 section 25 requires anyone who is either operating or in charge of a motor vehicle to comply with certain demands of police officers. Prosecutions under this law require proof beyond a reasonable doubt of the following elements:
- That you were operating or were in charge of a motor vehicle;
- That a police officer was either in uniform or had conspicuously displayed his badge on the outside of his clothing;
- That you:
- refused to give your name and address to the officer upon request;
- refused to provide the name and address of the owner of the vehicle to the officer upon request;
- gave the officer a false name;
- refused to stop when signaled to do so by the officer;
- refused to produce your license and registration upon the request of the officer;
- refused to sign your name in the presence of the officer;
- That you realized that the officer had made such a command and that you intentionally disobeyed that command.
If you have been charged with one of these offenses it is important to remember that this is a crime not a civil infraction. Even if you are not arrested you should contact a lawyer. You should be given a citation and might be summonsed to court to defend against these allegations. Many people go to court with charges like this and plead guilty not knowing that they just admitted to committing a crime. They assume that since the case can be "resolved" by payment of court costs or a fine that there are no consequences. That belief is often incorrect. Contact a lawyer immediately if you have any questions about the type of proceeding you are facing in court.
Penalty: $100 fine.
Here is the most common scenario we see when defending these cases. A police officer is wearing civilian clothes and driving vehicle other than a marked or unmarked cruiser. For some reason the officer takes exception to the way our client is driving. He either pulls up next to our client or approaches the client at a stop light and brandishes a badge. In the process of doing so the officer acts in an aggressive, threatening and intimidating manner. Our clients do not believe him or her to be a police officer. Consequently the client drives away. Later, the client receives a summons in the mail to appear in court for a clerk magistrate hearing. These circumstances often motivate the clerk not to issue the complaint, particularly where the accused does not have a criminal record or a significant driving record.
It is always to hire a lawyer if you have to go to court. Even if the court proceeding is a clerk magistrate hearing we advise you to appear with counsel. Cases involving the failure to submit to a police officer can usually be worked out before you have to appear in a criminal courtroom before a judge. Hiring a lawyer right away will save you money in the long run and likely put criminal cases like this one to rest quickly.