When Arrested For Doing Your Job

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“Interference with a peace officer” has become a common charge against the uncooperative, in this case a head nurse at a Utah hospital.  In Wyoming, it is a misdemeanor to “knowingly obstruct, impede or interfere with or resist arrest by a peace officer while engaged in the lawful performance of his official duties.”   If a person punches or elbows an officer on the chin, that is felony interference, punishable by ten years prison.   Mueller v. State, 2001 WY 134, ¶8  (Wyo. Dec. 27, 2001)(“A person who intentionally and knowingly causes or attempts to cause bodily injury to a peace officer engaged in the lawful performance of his official duties is guilty of a felony punishable by imprisonment for not more than ten (10) years.”)(citing W.S. §6-5-204(b)).

The head nurse in the video would appear to have as a defense to a charge of “interference” that she was doing her job, i.e., following hospital policy to ensure that a patient’s Fourth Amendment rights against unreasonable search and seizure are not violated.

Wyoming’s criminal interference statute, W.S. §6-5-204, does not, however, list as an affirmative defense the exercise of constitutional rights or the lawful performance of one’s job responsibilities.  Should it?

© Clark Stith 2017

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