We all have a natural desire to free ourselves when our movements are restricted, especially in times of tension or fear. The instinctual "fight or flight mode" that kicks in when we are under extreme stress has helped keep the human race safe for thousands of years. This natural defense mechanism will tell us that we need to either stand our ground and fight or get away from the situation as quickly as possible. Unfortunately, if you give in to these primal instincts when detained by law enforcement, you could end up behind bars. Struggling, attacking, or running away when a police officer attempts to put you under arrest is illegal in California.
Regardless of whether you were guilty of the original crime you were being arrested for, resisting arrest is enough to put you behind bars by itself. If you or someone you care about faces a charge for resisting arrest in California, you will need qualified legal representation. At Aron Law Firm, we create strategic defense plans to protect our clients' rights throughout the criminal process.
What You Need to Know About California Penal Code Section 148(a) PC: Resisting Arrest
Offenses against public justice are outlined in California Penal Code Section 148. The law prohibits willfully resisting, delaying, or obstructing a public officer, peace officer, or emergency medical technician (EMT) from completing their duties.
A violation of Penal Code 148 PC is charged as a misdemeanor crime. When no other penalties are prescribed, a conviction is punishable by a fine of up to $1,000, imprisonment in county jail for up to one year, or both the fine and imprisonment.
Anyone who removes or takes a weapon from a police officer (or in the presence of any public officer) during the commission of any of the above acts may face up to a year in county jail. In order for the prosecution to successfully prove this crime, they must successfully establish that the defendant specifically intended to remove or take the weapon by demonstrating that any of the following acts occurred:
- The defendant unfastened the police officer's holster strap
- The defendant partially removed the weapon from the police officer's holster
- The defendant released the safety on the police officer's firearm
- A witness testifies that the defendant physically touched the police officer's weapon with the intent to remove it
- A witness testifies that the defendant had their hand on the weapon in an attempt to disarm the police officer
- The defendant's fingerprint was identified on the weapon
- Scientific, physical evidence confirmed that the defendant touched the weapon
- The defendant tried to pick up a police officer's weapon that had fallen
Taking photos or recording audio or video of a police officer while in a public place does not constitute reasonable suspicion to detain a person or probable cause for arrest.
How to Defend a Charge for Resisting Arrest in California
A first-time resisting arrest offense in California may lead to severe consequences that could affect you for the rest of your life. A strong defense strategy is critical for all criminal cases, including resisting arrest.
Three strategies a California criminal defense attorney may use to defend your case include:
- No willful act: Since a person is only guilty under PC 148 if they act "willfully," a defendant may show that they did not act with this purpose.
- Falsely accused: Many police officers are quick to charge a person with resisting arrest simply because they did not like their attitude or because they asked for an explanation as to why they were under arrest. Police have also used the resisting arrest charge to cover up police misconduct, such as racial profiling or excessive force.
- No probable cause: Under the U.S. Constitution, police officers must have probable cause to make a legitimate arrest.
- Self-defense: This defense will only work if the police used illegal or excessive force and the arrestee fought back with reasonable force.
An experienced criminal defense lawyer will have the knowledge needed to effectively defend a charge of resisting arrest in California.
Contact a California Attorney to Help You Fight a Criminal Charge for Resisting Arrest
Aron Law Firm utilizes a client-centered approach which has proven effective again and again. If you are facing a criminal charge for resisting arrest in California, call our firm to discuss your case at (805) 618-1768. You may also complete our contact form to request more information about your legal options and the strategies we may use to defend a violation of California Penal Code Section 148(a) PC.