Resisting Arrest in California – Penal Code 148

Resisting arrest is a charge that is seen increasingly. A person can be arrested and charged with this crime for doing anything contrary to the officer’s instructions, including even asking questions of the officer. Of course, more serious fighting, resisting, and obstructing a peace officer’s duties can also be charged under this statute.The applicable law in this situation is California Penal Code (CPC or PC) section 148, which states:”(a) (1) Every person who willfully resists, delays, or obstructs any public officer, peace officer, or an emergency medical technician, as defined in Division 2.5 (commencing with Section 1797) of the Health and Safety Code, in the discharge or attempt to discharge any duty of his or her office or employment, when no other punishment is prescribed, shall be punished by a fine not exceeding one thousand dollars ($1,000), or by imprisonment in a county jail not to exceed one year, or by both that fine and imprisonment.”Under the law, every person who willfully resists, delays, or obstructs any public officer, peace officer, or emergency medical technician, in performing his/her duties, shall be punished by a fine of up to $1,000, or up to one year in a county jail, or both, if charged as a misdemeanor. If “great bodily injury” occurs to a police officer, then the case can be charged as a felony, making the maximum go up substantially – to three years in prison and a fine of over $2,000.00.This misdemeanor most often gets charged in situations where a police officer goes to arrest someone, and the person struggles physically to avoid being taken into custody. Police then have to apply force to restrain the suspect. Essentially this means that anything that prevents an officer from conducting an investigation and making an arrest qualifies as “resisting arrest.” Other examples would include providing a false identity to an arresting officer or filing a false police report.Many of these cases involve a police officer’s word against a suspect’s word. In these instances, defense attorneys will want to conduct a “Pitchess Motion” to see the entire personnel and complaint history of the officer. It may turn out that the officer has been accused in the past of excessive force and making false accusations against suspects. If so, the defense can use this to challenge the officer’s credibility, and often get the resisting arrest case reduced or dismissed.In handling resisting arrest or PC 148 charges over the last 15 years, I have noticed that once this charge is alleged, prosecutors, who like to show they are “tough” on crimes against police officers. What helps, however, is to show any facts that are outside of the criminal police report written by the police officers, to show that there is another world of additional facts that might change their opinion of the case. Statements from witnesses not otherwise fully interviewed by the police, and videos, can often be very helpful in this regard.