Posted in Criminal Defense on May 27, 2019
Resisting arrest is a crime in every state. In California, resisting arrest can result in additional criminal charges and penalties tacked onto a sentence. It is important to recognize the potential punishments for resisting arrest, as well as the long-term ramifications on your life. Resisting arrest could make an already bad situation worse.
Resisting arrest means to avoid or attempt to avoid arrest by law enforcement officers or emergency medical technicians while they are performing their professional duties. It can also refer to delaying arrest or otherwise obstructing justice. The law that defines resisting arrest, Penal Code Section 148(a)(1), also makes it illegal to impede justice in other ways, such as following an officer to the scene of an accident.
Willfully fighting police officers, struggling during an arrest, distracting officers that are arresting someone you know, or giving a false name during police questioning could all result in a resisting arrest charge. Resisting arrest in California is not a felony, but a misdemeanor offense. Although this makes it a more minor crime, it could lead to serious consequences on top of your other charges.
Yes, it is possible to receive a jail sentence for resisting arrest or obstructing arrest in California. The typical sentence for this crime is up to one year in a county jail, and/or a fine of up to $1,000, for a misdemeanor. If the courts convict the defendant of a felony resisting arrest crime, the penalties can increase to up to three years in jail and/or a fine of up to $5,000. Resisting arrest is a wobbler crime, meaning the prosecution has the power to decide whether to charge it as a misdemeanor or felony. A felony generally involves intentionally using threats or violence to resist or attempt to resist arrest.
To achieve a misdemeanor conviction for resisting arrest in California, the prosecution must prove that the defendant willfully resisted, delayed, or obstructed arrest and that the suspect knew or reasonably should have known that the person was a law enforcement officer or emergency medical technician performing or attempting to perform his or her duties. If the suspect used physical force to resist arrest, he or she could face the related charge of Battery on a Peace Officer.
It may be a defense to a resisting arrest charge to prove that the suspect reasonably could not have known the person’s identity – for example, if the officer was not in uniform or in a marked patrol vehicle. Another potential defense to a resisting arrest charge is that the law enforcement officer did not have proper intent to conduct the arrest. A wrongful arrest is one the officer does not have the legal right to carry out. In these cases, the defendant may not be guilty of resisting arrest, since the arrest was wrongful to begin with. Police misconduct could also be a defense, as could self-defense.
Avoiding punishment for resisting arrest takes help from an experienced criminal defense attorney. A good lawyer can help you develop a strategy to prove your innocence or reduce the charges against you. Of course, avoiding the charge to begin with is always ideal. Working with an attorney can help you uncover ways to avoid breaking California’s resisting/impeding arrest laws.
The criminal defense lawyers at the Law Offices of Graham Donath, APC can give you advice after a resisting arrest charge. We can also give you tips for how to avoid this infraction in the future, such as utilizing your right to remain silent and calling an attorney after arrest. Speak to an attorney today for assistance building a defense to your resisting arrest charge in California.