Gators linebacker Antonio Morrison barked up the wrong tree Saturday, when he was arrested for allegedly barking at a police dog.
The University of Florida football player was already on suspension for a June arrest for assaulting a bouncer. Now Morrison, 19, faces misdemeanor charges for resisting arrest and "harassing an on-duty animal," reports USA Today.
Playful or not, Morrison could face jail for making dog noises at a dog.
Morrison Faces Misdemeanors
The Florida college athlete faces two charges for his alleged canine teasing, both of which carry maximum sentences of state jail time.
The Alachua County Sheriff's Office stated that Morrison approached a police car's open window and "barked at a K-9 dog" named Bear. That prompted the dog to bark back and the officer to arrest him, leading to some initial resistance, reports The Associated Press.
Under Florida law, intentionally "harass[ing], teas[ing], or interfer[ing] with" a police dog is a second degree misdemeanor, punishable by up to 60 days in jail, and resisting an officer without force is a first degree misdemeanor with up to a year of jail time attached.
Just Barking Back?
In his defense of actively harassing the police dog, Morrison claims that the dog made a "woof-woof" sound at him first. Morrison insists he was only "barking back," reports USA Today.
Although the charge sounds like a laughable or even trumped up offense, Morrison already has a deferred misdemeanor charge for "simple battery," which could be imposed if it is determined that the college sophomore violated the rules of his deferral program, reports the AP.
Most of this depends on whether the more serious charge, the resisting arrest misdemeanor, is upheld based on the lawfulness of the dog bark arrest.
Lawful Arrest for 'Woof'?
In most states, committing any misdemeanor or felony in the presence of an officer is an arrestable offense, even public urination.
Like with all arrests, even an arrest for teasing a police dog, Alachua County law enforcement needed probable cause that Morrison was committing a crime before they attempted to put him under arrest.
A judge might determine that there was probable cause for Morrison's arrest and therefore probable cause for his resisting arrest charge, at which point his deferral may be in jeopardy.
At the moment, the Gators player is free on his own recognizance, but he should try to stay out of trouble until his next court hearing.
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