Ask a Criminal Defense Attorney: What Does it Mean to Resist Arrest in California?

Ask a Criminal Defense Attorney: What Does it Mean to Resist Arrest in California?

The concept of “resisting arrest” that most people have in mind is rather limited: a suspect physically resisting an officer who is ready to handcuff them. Actually, resisting arrest need not result in any physical harm or occur concurrently with an actual arrest. Keep reading to learn more about this criminal charge and contact Chambers Law Firm at 714-760-4088 if you require a free legal consultation.

The Legal Definition of Resisting Arrest

According to California Criminal Code Section 148, anyone intentionally resisting, delaying, or obstructing a law enforcement officer or EMT while they are carrying out their regular duties is subject to criminal prosecution. Examples include:

  • Deliberately obstructing an officer’s path to prevent them from interacting with a different person
  • Limping and refusing to approach the police car after being taken into custody
  • Refusing to provide your identity while booking

Protections Against Arrest

If the defendant can show that the arrest was illegal, the charges of resisting arrest will typically be withdrawn in most states. Unfortunately, there is no such exception to the Criminal Code in the state of California. A conviction under Section 148 is still possible for resisting any arrest, even one that was not legal.

You essentially have two options for your defense if you are accused of purposely blocking, delaying, or resisting a law enforcement officer in California:

Self-defense: If a person justifiably fears for their life as a result of an arresting officer’s excessive use of force, California law does allow them to resist arrest—even with violence or force. The essential in this case, as it is in the self-defense argument for any allegation, is demonstrating that the typical person would have had a reasonable and fair fear of suffering serious harm or passing away as a result of the officer’s actions.

Lack of Intent: Due to the statute’s requirement that the obstruction, delay, or resistance be willful and deliberate, lack of intent is another defense that may be used to disprove charges of resisting arrest, whether violently or nonviolently.

For instance, it’s possible that someone who was accused of impeding an officer by blocking their path could not hear commands to move aside because of a hearing disability and was unaware that their actions were causing a problem. Or maybe the person who was accused of shoving the policeman slipped and made the contact by accident.

Get Legal Assistance from Chambers Law Firm

You may require two defense plans if you are accused of resisting arrest: one for the alleged obstruction or resistance and one for the charge for which you were first detained. Determining a criminal defense lawyer with a broad range of skills, like Chambers Law Firm, who can build a strong case against all accusations, is crucial. Contact us at 714-760-4088 to request a free legal consultation.

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