California Penal Code 148 makes it illegal to resist an arrest performed by a law enforcement official or first responder in the line of duty. The punishments for violating PC 148 are a fine up to $1,000, one year of imprisonment in a county jail or both. Learn why resisting arrest is against the law, what constitutes this crime and how you can defend yourself against this charge.
Why Is Resisting Arrest in California Illegal?
PC 148 defines resisting arrest as an offense against public justice, and specifically identifies people who can perform arrests as public officers, peace officers and EMTs. However, this statute does not apply to private security officers like those who work at some college campuses and shopping centers.
To successfully prove someone resisted arrest, a prosecutor must demonstrate beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant knowingly and deliberately delayed or prevented a police officer or EMT from performing their official duties, such as investigating a crime or making a traffic stop. A law enforcement officer can be acting lawfully even when arresting the wrong person, and also if a judge drops or dismisses the charges or the defendant secures an acquittal at trial.
What Qualifies as Resisting Arrest?
You might correctly assume that resisting arrest includes a suspect trying to prevent the police from lawfully taking them into custody. However, under PC 148, the crime also includes other activities, such as:
- Interfering with communication sent over a public safety radio frequency
- Taking a firearm from a police officer
- Threatening or physically harming an EMT or police officer
- Preventing a police officer from traveling to the scene of a crime or accident
- Obstructing the authorities from interviewing a witness to a crime
- Trying to stop police from monitoring a suspect in custody
Legal Defenses Against a Resisting Arrest Charge
If you are accused of a crime under PC 148, a criminal defense attorney can help you get the charges reduced or dismissed by proving that you didn’t act intentionally – for instance, that you did not prevent a police officer or first responder from doing their job on purpose. Another possible argument against a resisting arrest charge is that the police lacked probable cause to make an arrest, as defined in the Fourth Amendment. Finally, if you believe the police are falsely using a resisting arrest charge to justify misconduct such as excessive force or racial profiling, an attorney might help you put together a successful defense.
Are you or a loved one facing legal consequences for resisting arrest in California? Please contact us to schedule a consultation. At the Law Offices of Ronald G. Brower, we have earned a reputation as one of Orange County’s leading law firms, successfully defending our clients with a focus on respect and results. Ron Brower has specialized solely in criminal law since opening his Southern California practice in 1974. In his career, some of his highest-profile clients have included Orange County judges, politicians, private attorneys, public defenders, deputy district attorneys and law enforcement officers.