Resisting Arrest

Resisting Arrest Law in California

In California, resisting arrest is usually charged under California Penal Code Section §148(a)(1). This law makes it illegal to willfully resist, delay or obstruct public officers, peace officers or emergency medical technicians while they are discharging or attempting to discharge any of their duties.  There does not have to be any physical contact with the official in order to complete this crime.  The ways that an individual can violate this law include:

  • Falsely identifying yourself during the process of an investigation, arrest or detention
  • Struggling while being handcuffed or placed in a police car
  • Running away from a police officer while the officer is attempting to arrest the individual based on lawful probable cause
  • Interfering with a public safety communication radio transmission.

Violating the resisting arrest law under Penal Code Sections §148(a)(1) and §148(a)(2) result in misdemeanor charges but if you use force or a weapon or injure a police officer during an attempted arrest, additional and more serious charges can be filed.  Most of the additional California Penal Code violations associated with resisting arrest can be prosecuted as either misdemeanors or felonies (these are known as “wobbler” offenses).  They are:

  • Using threats, force or violence to resist arrest (Penal Code Section §69)
  • Disarming or taking an officer’s weapon while resisting arrest, other than a firearm; removing or taking an officer’s gun (Penal Code Section §148(b-d)
  • Injuring a peace officer during an arrest resulting in death or serious bodily injury to a peace officer (Penal Code Section §140.10(a)
  • Battery to a police officer, firefighter or EMT (Penal Code Section §243(c)
  • Evading a police officer and evading a police officer with reckless driving (Vehicle Code Sections §2800.1, §2800.2)

Prosecutors are more likely to charge a felony if the defendant has a significant criminal record and the behavior during the arrest was allegedly egregious.  On the other hand, if this was your first arrest and there are mitigating factors, e.g., the officer’s injuries are minor and the defendant’s injuries are significant, the prosecutor will be more likely to charge you with a misdemeanor. If you have been arrested or charged with resisting arrest, you should contact Damian Siwek, an experienced Los Angeles criminal defense attorney, at DCS Defense to schedule a no-cost confidential consultation to discuss your legal options.

Resisting Arrest Defenses

The California resisting arrest laws are specific in describing what constitutes illegal activity during an arrest.  Due to this, a number of criminal defenses can be raised to argue against resisting arrest allegations.  Some of the more common defenses include:

  • Unlawful arrest: the resisting arrest laws do not apply to situations where the officer does not have legal grounds to make the arrest
  • Self-defense: You can protect yourself from an officer who is using unreasonable force during an attempted arrest
  • Police misconduct: an officer’s history of falsely accusing suspects of resisting arrest or direct evidence of same can be used to show that the officer has done the same to you
  • False allegations: evidence of a defendant’s actions during an arrest can be introduced to show that the action did not rise to the level of “resisting arrest.”

If a defense applies to your arrest, there is a good possibility that an experienced criminal defense attorney at our firm will be able to get the charges against you reduced or dismissed.

Penalties and Sentencing

There are several issues that will affect sentencing if you are convicted of resisting arrest, including the Penal Code section under which the charge was filed, and the circumstances surrounding the arrest and your criminal record.  If convicted of misdemeanor resisting arrest, you can be sentenced up to one year in the county jail and be required to pay a fine.  A conviction for felony resisting arrest can result in up to four years in state prison, a $10,000 fine and a “Strike” per California’s Three Strikes Law.

Call Us, We Can Help

A resisting arrest conviction is unlike most convictions.  If you or someone you know is stopped by the police in the future and the officer discovers that you have a conviction for resisting arrest, it is sure to turn the police encounter into an unpleasant one.  Defending against these types of charges is not easy and requires knowledge involving specific police procedures and protocol. At DCS Defense, we will focus on the variations and deviations from proper police procedure involved in the charges.

For aggressive and effective representation against resisting arrest charges, including a free confidential consultation, contact Los Angeles criminal defense attorney Damian Siwek at DCS Defense.