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Dec 15, 2023

Understanding Your Resisting Arrest Charge: A Clear Guide to California Penal Code 148(a) PC

Never underestimate the gravity of a resisting arrest charge in California. The consequences can be steep, and the legal landscape is far from simple. Understanding the ins and outs of Penal Code 148(a) PC and its implications is paramount to navigate this challenging scenario.

Key Takeaways

  • Resisting arrest is defined as any willful act that obstructs, delays or resists a public officer in the performance of their duties.
  • The prosecution must prove willfulness, knowledge and hindrance to charge with resisting arrest.
  • Common defense strategies include challenging the willfulness of resistance, questioning veracity of accusation and arguing self-defense. Consulting an attorney is recommended for best results.

Understanding Resisting Arrest Charges in California

Police officer detaining a suspect on the street

The complexity of a resisting arrest charge in the Golden State often surpasses initial perceptions. It’s not merely a matter of physically resisting a police officer. In fact, under California Penal Code 148(a) PC, the definition of resisting arrest stretches beyond that. It covers any willful act that obstructs, delays, or resists a public officer, a peace officer, or an emergency medical technician in the performance of their duties.

Physical resistance or fighting with a police officer is not a prerequisite for a resisting arrest charge. Any act that hinders or delays an officer or EMT while they’re carrying out their duties can be considered resisting arrest. This could range from refusing to follow an officer’s orders to running away or giving false information.

The broad language of Penal Code 148(a) PC allows for its application in a myriad of situations. Its application is not confined to just instances of an individual’s arrest. For instance, if an individual:

  • interferes with an EMT trying to provide medical aid at a crash scene
  • obstructs a police officer during a traffic stop
  • refuses to comply with a lawful order from a law enforcement officer

These actions could also be considered resisting arrest.

The designation ‘public officer’ includes an array of roles beyond just law enforcement officers. It includes anyone performing a public duty under the law, such as judges, prosecutors, and even certain public employees.

Key Elements of a Resisting Arrest Charge

Three key elements must be proven by the prosecution when a resisting arrest charge is levied. First, the accused willfully resisted, obstructed, or delayed a public officer or a peace officer. Willful resistance refers to a deliberate and intentional act of resistance or obstruction. The resistance doesn’t have to be aggressive or violent; it could be any act that impedes the officer’s duties.

The second element the prosecution must establish is that the accused was aware of the officer’s identity and duties. This could be demonstrated through the officer’s testimony, any verbal warnings given by the officer, or the defendant’s conduct that indicates recognition of the officer’s authority.

As a final point, the prosecution has to establish that the actions of the accused truly hindered the officer’s duties. This could encompass any conduct that resists, delays, or obstructs any peace officer while they are performing his or her duties.

Consequences of a Resisting Arrest Conviction

A lawyer and a legal gavel on the desk symbolizing consequences of resisting arrest conviction

Severe consequences follow a resisting arrest conviction in California. If found guilty, possible penalties under Penal Code 148 PC could include up to one year in county jail, a maximum fine of $1,000, and the potential for additional criminal charges. The length of the jail sentence can vary, but typically, a misdemeanor resisting arrest conviction results in imprisonment for up to one year.

However, a resisting arrest conviction has implications that stretch beyond the courtroom. A conviction can lead to collateral consequences, such as:

  • a criminal record, which may have negative impacts on various aspects of the individual’s life
  • difficulty securing employment as employers may hesitate to hire someone with a resisting arrest conviction, especially if the nature of the conviction is relevant to the job role
  • affecting background checks, which are commonly conducted as part of the hiring process

These consequences can significantly impact an individual’s life and future opportunities.

Grasping these potential consequences is fundamental when dealing with a resisting arrest charge. The ripple effects can touch every corner of your life, from your career prospects to your personal relationships and even your standing in the community.

Common Defense Strategies Against Resisting Arrest Charges

When confronted with a resisting arrest charge, constructing a formidable defense is pivotal. Common defense strategies include:

  • Challenging the willfulness of the resistance
  • Disputing whether the accused was aware of the officer’s identity and duties
  • Asserting that the accused’s actions didn’t interfere with the officer’s duties.

One might also argue that the resistance wasn’t intentional but rather stemmed from confusion, fear, or a misinterpretation of the circumstances. A frequent defense approach is to question the veracity of the resisting arrest accusation. This could involve questioning the credibility of the arresting officer’s testimony and presenting conflicting evidence or witnesses.

The defense could also argue self-defense if the individual had a reasonable fear for their life or believed that the officer was using deadly force. Lastly, challenging the legality of the arrest could be a robust defense strategy. This could involve demonstrating that the arrest was not lawful due to insufficient probable cause or excessive force by the officer.

Challenging the Legality of the Arrest

One crucial aspect of resisting arrest defense is disputing the arrest’s legality. For an arrest to be considered a lawful arrest, law enforcement must have probable cause, which is a reasonable belief based on facts or evidence that a crime was committed. In this context, officers must fulfill their lawful duty to ensure the arrest is justified.

If law enforcement lacks probable cause to make an arrest under Penal Code 148 PC, any evidence gathered after the improper arrest may be deemed inadmissible in the case. This could potentially lead to the dismissal or reduction of charges.

Another aspect of challenging the legality of the arrest is examining whether excessive force was used by the arresting officer during the arrest process. If it can be established that excessive force was used, it may result in the dismissal or reduction of charges.

Related Offenses to Resisting Arrest

Police officer being assaulted during an arrest

In California, resisting arrest charges frequently don’t exist in isolation. It’s frequently associated with other offenses, such as assault on a peace officer (PC 241(c)), battery on a peace officer (PC 243b and 243c), and resisting an executive officer (PC 69).

Resisting an executive officer is a distinct offense that involves using force or intimidation to obstruct an executive officer from performing their lawful duties.

Battery on a peace officer is another related offense, where the accused is charged with causing physical harm to an officer. The potential legal ramifications and penalties for battery on a peace officer in California may include imprisonment, fines, and probation. The consequences vary based on the individual case details and the defendant’s criminal record.

Comprehending these associated offenses, including misdemeanor offense, is vital since they could influence the case as a whole, the defense approach, and the impending penalties. It’s important to consult with an experienced criminal defense attorney to navigate the complexities of these related offenses.

The Role of a Criminal Defense Attorney in Resisting Arrest Cases

Facing a resisting arrest charge can be overwhelming. This is where the role of a criminal defense attorney becomes crucial. Their role in resisting arrest cases is paramount, encompassing tasks like:

  • Case evaluation
  • Evidence collection
  • Defense strategy development
  • Plea bargain negotiation

A defense attorney will:

  • Review the evidence
  • Interview the defendant
  • Research the law
  • Investigate the circumstances
  • Develop a defense strategy tailored to your case
  • Prepare for trial
  • Negotiate with the prosecution
  • Represent you in court.

In gathering evidence, a criminal defense attorney will:

  • Scrutinize police reports and witness statements
  • Conduct their own investigations
  • Evaluate the evidence
  • Present it in court

This detailed analysis and representation can significantly influence the outcome of the case.

Additionally, a defense attorney can negotiate a plea bargain with the prosecution. This involves the defendant agreeing to plead guilty or no contest to a lesser charge or to a reduced sentence in exchange for certain concessions from the prosecution. A plea bargain can potentially reduce the severity of the penalties by allowing the defendant to plead guilty to a lesser offense, which carries lighter penalties than resisting arrest.

Silver Law Firm: Your Dedicated Defense Against Resisting Arrest Charges in San Jose, CA

At Silver Law Firm, we understand the gravity of being accused of Resisting Arrest in San Jose and are committed to providing robust defense services. Here’s how we can assist:

  1. Expertise in Various Charges: Whether you’re facing a minor misdemeanor, a DUI, domestic violence, or serious felonies, we have the expertise to handle your case.
  2. Protecting Your Rights: We recognize the significant impact of these charges on your life. Our priority is to safeguard your reputation, livelihood, and freedom.
  3. Experienced Defense: Elliot Silver, an experienced Oakland criminal defense attorney, is known for his tenacious defense and dedication to his clients. He’s prepared to fight vigorously for your rights.
  4. Personalized Strategy: Every case is unique. We focus on creating a defense strategy tailored to the specifics of your situation.
  5. Open Communication: We believe in maintaining open and direct communication. Attorney Silver is committed to being accessible, responding promptly to calls, texts, and emails.
  6. Free Consultation: The journey towards justice begins with a free and confidential consultation. This is where we listen to your side of the story and start formulating a defense.
  7. Fighting for Justice: We are dedicated to fighting for you every step of the way until justice is served, no matter how challenging the case may seem.
  8. Partnership Approach: We work closely with our clients to build a strong defense. Your input and our legal expertise combine to form a formidable team.

Remember, facing charges of Resisting Arrest in San Jose is a serious matter, but with Silver Law Firm, you have a skilled and committed ally in your corner.

Preparing for Your Resisting Arrest Case

When dealing with a resisting arrest charge, preparation holds the key. Here are some steps to take:

  1. Seek consultation from a criminal defense attorney.
  2. Gather pertinent documents and evidence.
  3. Understand the specific elements of the offense.
  4. Analyze the arrest circumstances.
  5. Formulate a defense strategy with your attorney.

Charge analysis involves:

  • Scrutinizing the offense’s specific elements as defined by the penal code
  • Grasping the acts constituting resisting arrest
  • Understanding the necessary intent
  • Considering possible defenses
  • Reviewing similar case law interpretations.

Understanding the potential ramifications of resisting arrest charges is crucial as well. This includes not only the immediate legal consequences such as a potential year in county jail and fines, but also the longer-term implications on your personal and professional life.

When choosing a criminal defense attorney, consider the following:

  • Their experience in criminal defense, especially with resisting arrest charges
  • Assess their reputation and track record
  • Ensure they communicate effectively and provide a comprehensive consultation to discuss your case.


Understanding the intricacies of a resisting arrest charge in California is crucial to effectively defend against it. With potential consequences ranging from hefty fines to jail time, and collateral impacts on your personal and professional life, the stakes are high. It’s not just about understanding the law, but also about knowing the available defenses, related offenses, and the vital role a criminal defense attorney can play in your case. Remember, knowledge is power, and in this case, it could be the key to preserving your freedom and future.

Frequently Asked Questions

How long do you go to jail for resisting arrest in California?

If convicted of Resisting Arrest, you can be imprisoned for up to one year in a county jail and fined up to $1,000.

Is resisting arrest a felony in the US?

In the United States, resisting arrest can be classified as either a felony or a misdemeanor depending on the circumstances. It can result in various punishments ranging from fines to imprisonment.

What is the penalty for obstruction of justice in California?

Obstruction of justice in California is a felony punishable by up to 5 years in prison and substantial fines.

What actions are considered as resisting arrest in California?

In California, any willful act that obstructs, delays or resists a law enforcement officer, peace officer or emergency medical technician is considered to be resisting arrest.

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