Resisting arrest in California is an offense punishable by law. The judge could fine or jail you. Resisting arrest charges could also be filed against you without knowing if you did an act thinking that you are protecting your loved ones.

When charged with resisting arrest, you might dismiss it if you did not apply any force when the arrest happened. Sometimes, a resisting arrest charge might be pressed against you when no arrest occurred. Some of the problems you face are the trauma your family goes through and other repercussions in life. You may lose your job and have your criminal record filed. The effects of going through a trial are long-lasting, whether you are acquitted or convicted.

When you are faced with these charges, under the California penal code section 148(a), hiring a competent defense attorney is very important.  At Orange County Criminal Defense Attorney Law Firm, we understand the judicial system well. We will help develop a sound defense strategy to receive a lesser punishment or even an acquittal. Our experienced criminal defense lawyers are ready to defend you.

What is the Legal Definition of "Resisting Arrest" Charges in California?

California law defines "Resisting arrest" as an illegal act where you intentionally resist, obstruct, or delay an emergency medical technician (EMT) or a law enforcement officer from performing their lawful duties. These "lawful duties" include any act connected with their jobs and are not limited to arrest only.

PC 148(a) requires the "victim," who is the arresting officer or an emergency medical technician (EMT), to be lawfully carrying out their duties. You can be charged with resisting arrest when you delay these officers from carrying out their duties. if you obstruct an EMT from accessing a patient, the technician can file a resisting arrest report against you

Under California law, you cannot be sentenced by a court of law until proven guilty. As the accuser, the officer and the prosecuting attorney must prove that you, as the defendant, resisted an arrest. Your defense attorney should prove your innocence in the court of law.

Factors that the prosecutor must prove before the court could convict you are:

  • You had every intention of breaking the law.
  • You intentionally obstructed, resisted, or delayed EMT and peace officers from performing their lawful duties.
  • The "victim" was an emergency medical technician, or officers performing their lawful duties.
  • You knew that your conduct was interfering with the duties of the EMT or the other officers.

When officers are on duty and delay them in their work, for instance, when officers are called to a crime scene and deny the officers free movement or access to the site, preventing them from interviewing the witnesses, you could be charged with resisting arrest. You can also be charged with resisting arrest if you deny an EMT officer's access to a victim.

California penal code section 148(a) can charge a person even though they did not actively resist the arrest. An example of this scenario is where police officers are called in a case involving violence. When the officer determines who the aggressive party is, and decides to remove the aggressive person from the scene.

This person decides to go limp and lies down, which forces the arresting officers to drag them from the scene; this person can be charged with resisting arrest and taken to a court of law. Going limp is intentional and will amount to delaying arresting officers from performing their lawful duties.

Penalties for Resisting Arrest

When you commit this crime in Orange County, you are sentenced under California PC section 148(a), and the crime is treated as a misdemeanor. When a guilty verdict is passed, possible sentences are one year sentence at a county jail, up to a $1000 fine, or have both the prison time and fine. The court can also put you on probation, where you are required to serve your sentence out of jail. The probation can, however, be terminated if you are found violating your probation terms.

Defenses to Resisting Arrest

Sometimes, you might find yourself on the wrong side of the law, whether you knew you were resisting arrest or not. The law will be followed to the letter, and this will cause you to evaluate your defense against the charges. When facing charges of resisting arrest, several instances are available, and you can use them to defend yourself and sway the outcome of the case. These instances include, but not limited to:

False Accusation

The law requires the defendant to be well aware that the "victim" is a law enforcement officer or an EMT official and on lawful duty. For example, Mary, a patrol police officer on duty, finds a driver leaning over a car’s hood. She alights from the patrol car to enquire if there is a problem. The person leaning over the hood of the vehicle runs away. She doesn't see this person's face but notices he is wearing a black trouser.

She continues with her patrol and later comes across Ben, who is wearing a black trouser. Mary arrests and files a charge against him for resisting arrest, which he denies saying he wasn't leaning on any car that day.

Even though Mary was on lawful duty, and Ben knew Mary was a patrol police officer, he cannot be convicted for resisting arrest since he was falsely accused. Ben's defense attorney must prove his innocence in the court.

Plea Bargaining

With a plea bargain, you can confess a different offense you had committed earlier, during, or after the offense, you are accused of having committed. It is usually less severe. You can make a plea that you disturbed the peace in your neighborhood, charged under California penal code Section 415, or committed a different offense like trespass, under California Penal Code Section 602 if facing resisting arrest California PC 148(A) charges.

Plea bargaining can be cheaper for you as the defendant, less embarrassing, and easier to handle. Pleas are also expensive and will take a lot of time before they are accepted. The judge will also have to accept your plea to be in the "interest of justice."

The prosecution will accept a plea bargain if they think they don't have a high chance of winning the resisting arrest case. The prosecutor can also take the plea bargain if he believes that you were provoked or too young.

Defending Yourself or Others

Some police officers might take advantage of their work and force someone to do something they don't want. For example, James, a policeman, and father try capturing his teenage daughter, Ann, who ran away from home. He forces Ann into his cruiser on the street when he sees her. Ann screams and asks for help. David, a civilian, decides to restrain James, which allows Ann to escape. James then arrests David and files a resisting arrest charge against him.

Though David knew James was a police officer on duty, he restrained him from protecting Ann, asking for help, and delaying the officer in performing his duties. The court will not convict David since James was not carrying out lawful but his private duties.

Other Ways to Fight against Resisting Arrest Charges

When you resist an arrest, you know that the officer is going to press charges against you. The first step is to hire a skilled criminal defense attorney who is conversant with Californian law. Ensure you hire an attorney with a good track record and have won most cases that have gone to trial or have managed to have their clients acquitted.

When you are arrested, it's advisable to keep quiet and avoid explaining yourself to the arresting officer. Anything you say during an arrest can be used against you during the trial by the prosecuting attorney.

Let your attorney fight for you and decide if proceeding to trial is the best option for you. If your attorney thinks that you have great chances of winning if the case is taken to trial, he will prepare his defense well. But in such cases, the prosecuting attorney might call for reduced charges or have the case dropped altogether.

What determines the outcome of your case is:

  • The evidence that the prosecutor has against you.
  • The jury.
  • Your attorney and his defensive skills.
  • The judge.

Related Offenses to Resisting Arrest

Several other offenses are frequently convicted together, and they have some common elements with the crime of resisting arrest. The prosecutor decides if these crimes would be charged together with resisting arrest. The offense might have been committed together with resisting arrest or at a different time. They include:

 Resisting or Obstructing Law Enforcement Officers CPC 69

In California, you are charged with obstructing or resisting law enforcement officers from performing their lawful duties when you threaten or use violence. Like resisting arrest, this law has limitations, and the prosecution must prove that the peace officer did not use excessive force when they arrested you and that you were not supposed to be at the place where the crime took place. If you are found guilty, you will be penalized by serving not more than one year in county jail or paying a  fine not exceeding $10,000.

Battery on a Peace Officer CPC 243

Battery is a crime where the offender willfully and unlawfully uses force or violence against another person; in this case, the peace officer. You may face battery charges even if there is no injury suffered by the accuser.

The prosecution can have a battery charge against you for a simple, unwanted, or offensive touch on the peace officer. When dealing with police officers, it is advisable to keep calm and to avoid appearing as aggressive. In case of a disagreement, consult with your attorney and avoid unnecessary disputes that might cause you more peace officers' problems.

The penalty for committing a battery on a police officer PC 243(b) maybe:

  • Serve a jail term that does not exceed one year in local county jail
  • Pay a fine not exceeding $1000
  • Both the fine and serve time in the county jail

A battery offense on a police officer can also result in an injury, and if this happens, you will be charged under California Penal Code 243(c). The prosecution must prove that:

  • The officer involved in the battery charge was performing their lawful duties when the battery offense occurred.
  • You knew or should have known that the person accusing you was on lawful duty during the time of the charge.

The battery on a peace officer PC 243(c) is treated as a felony that will have you fined up to a maximum of $2000, serve a county jail term that does not exceed sixteen months, two, or three years, or both.

You should also note that the accuser doesn't necessarily need to be on their lawful duty when the battery happened. An example is an undercover policeman working as a construction worker. If he suffers battery injury, the statute will stand in a court of law. 

Presenting False Identification to a Police Officer CPC 148.9

It is a crime to produce false identification documents when you are arrested and asked to identify yourself. Violation of CPC148.9 occurs when you make false identification to evade correct and proper identification by an arresting officer or evade the court's due process.

The prosecution will have to prove that you falsely identified yourself to a police officer, that you were lawfully detained, and that you had every intention to evade the court proceedings.

If convicted under CPC 148.9, a misdemeanor, you will face a county jail term of up to six months, pay a fine of up to $ 1000, or have both the imprisonment and the fine.

Making a False Report of a Crime CPC 148.5

It is illegal in California to produce a false report of a crime committed to peace officers. You will be prosecuted if you reported a crime to a law enforcement officer, knowing that it was false. If you are convicted for making a false report to a police officer, which is a misdemeanor, you will be sentenced to a service time not exceeding six months in county jail, pay a fine not exceeding $1000, or have both jail time and pay the fine.

Wearing a Mask to Evade Police CPC 185

It is a crime to wear a mask that will either partially or wholly disguise your features to avoid identification or hide while fleeing a crime scene. A prosecutor must prove that you wore personal disguise, mask, or even whiskers that helped you conceal yourself while committing a crime. He will also prove beyond a reasonable doubt that you used the guise to hide while you fled a crime scene.

Once the court finds you guilty, a penalty of imprisonment not exceeding six months in a county jail might be applied, or a fine that does not exceed $1000 will be applied; or the court might decide to use both the imprisonment and the fine together.

Assault CPC 240

According to California law, Assault is described as committing a violent injury to another person. For assault charges to hold in a court of law, the prosecution will have to prove that:

  • You did something that resulted in the application of force that directly affected another person.
  • You were able to apply force.
  • You knew the act would result in the application of force.
  • You applied to force willfully.

If the court finds you guilty of the charges against you, it will apply a penalty that consists of either a six-month jail term in county jail; pay a fine that does not exceed $ 1000, or be sentenced to both imprisonment and be fined as well.

Misdemeanor of Evading Police in a Vehicle CVC 2800.1

You can be charged with a misdemeanor and evading arrest if you willfully run away or attempt to evade a peace officer's vehicle. The prosecution must prove beyond any doubt that:

  • You willfully intended to elude law enforcement officers.
  • The police officer was driving a vehicle and was pursuing you.
  • You were driving when the event took place.
  • You evaded and fled from the police officer.
  • The police officer's vehicle had a red light on, or his siren was on.
  • The vehicle pursuing you was marked as a police car and was driven by a law enforcement officer.

If you are found guilty, you will be sentenced to serve county jail for a term not exceeding one year, pay a fine not exceeding $ 1000, or have both the fine and the imprisonment.

Felony Reckless Driving CVC 2800.2

This felony charge applies when you willfully drive and disregard the safety of other people and properties. This felony is a more serious charge with the possibility of facing higher fines and serving time in state prison.

 The prosecution must prove that:

  • That you were pursued by a law enforcement officer who was driving a government motor vehicle.
  • You were driving a vehicle at the time of the event, and that you willfully fled with full intention to evade the peace officer.
  • You drove your vehicle, disregarding other people and property.
  • The peace officer's vehicle had a red lamp on, or the sire was on, the officer was in his uniform, and the motor vehicle was marked as a police car.

If found guilty of this felony and sentenced under CVC 2800.2, you will face a penalty of serving jail time in a state prison that does not exceed one year, paying $10000 as fines or both. You should note that in this felony charge, the prosecution must not prove that you intended to hurt people or destroy properties.

Contact a Defense Attorney Law Firm Near Me

When you or your loved ones face resisting arrest charges, the situation may seem hopeless. At the Orange County Criminal Defense Attorney Law Firm, we have an excellent understanding of California's criminal justice system. We have proven track records of winning resisting arrest cases in Orange County.

Our attorneys are equipped to defend you by analyzing your case and building strategies proven to work. We will ensure to represent you well and obtain the best outcome in your case. Call us at 714-740-7848 and set up a free consultation with our attorneys.