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Posted on March 11, 2017

4 Common Defenses to Resisting Arrest Charges – PC 148(a)(1)

California resisting arrest charges are among one of the leading crimes grossly exaggerated or embellished by police officers. Ordinarily, a person finds themselves charged with other offenses. This is usually the case when a suspect is injured and a police officer exaggerates the circumstances to avoid any later civil rights violation claims.[1]

Charged under Penal Code 148(a)(1) pc, resisting arrest charges arise when an officer is obstructed or delayed in any manner from performing their duties. Although statutorily vague and overbroad, the statute has been upheld as constitutionally valid.

When charged with resisting arrest, it’s important to retain a skilled and experienced Orange County resisting arrest attorney to regularly represent clients accused of committing crimes against police officers. An experienced attorney will know how to analyze the facts, properly investigate the case, and persuasively present your side of the story to a conservative Orange County Court. There are several defenses often presented in a criminal case when someone is charged with resisting arrest. This article will address the four (4) common defenses typically litigated within the court.

Unlawful Seizure

The police must be armed with some level of articulate facts that you are/or were engaged in criminal activity to comply with the Fourth Amendment.[2] Criminal activity can be felonies, misdemeanor, or even a simple traffic violation. These legal safeguards are in place to prevent police from engaging in unnecessary detentions of citizens. Therefore, by attacking the validity of the initial encounter, could lead to the dismissal of the charge(s). In other words, the purported resisting arrest charge would not have occurred but for the officer’s illegal seizure.

Excessive Force

Unquestionably, officers engage in excessive force against suspects. Typically, officers are motivated based on a suspect’s disrespect or lack of cooperation from submitting to an officer’s request – e.g., “Mind if I search your car?” However, disrespecting a police officer is not a crime nor is an individual required to submit to an officer’s unlawful demand. When law enforcement engages in excessive force, suspects ordinarily and instinctively respond with defending themselves. Defending oneself is typically the conduct used to justify the resisting or obstructing element. But, reasonably responding with force or defending yourself against unnecessary force serves as an absolute defense against the officer’s unreasonable conduct.

Knowledge of Police Officer

To resist, obstruct, or delay a peace officer, a suspect must have knowledge that the individual effectuating their detention is a police officer. Knowledge is based on actually knowing or constructive knowledge – “should have known”.[3] In cases where an undercover police officer fails to identify themselves and a suspect has no reason to believe the undercover officer is a peace officer, they cannot be expected to submit to a stranger. Another scenario could arise when a police encounter results from detaining a suspect from behind and fails to identify themselves.

Lack of Intent

Resisting arrest is a general intent crime requiring the prosecutor to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that you intended to commit the acts that ultimately obstructed or delayed the officer.[4] But the act that results in obstruction or delay could be committed by accident or the product of misfortune. For example, if you are too intoxicated to walk and the police officer must “carry you into the police car” – although the officer’s ability to swiftly arrest you was delayed, the product of the delay was not the result of your volitional movement because you were too intoxicated to understand or appreciate your actions.

Contact Us to Schedule a Free Resisting Arrest Consultation

With such serious consequences, like those that result from a resisting arrest conviction, California has several scenarios and safeguards to avoid a wrongful conviction. Our office is comprised of highly experienced Orange County criminal defense attorneys up to date on the latest legal nuances and fight to ensure that your rights are protected. Contact us for a free and confidential case evaluation by giving us a call or submitting a contact request through our website.

Legal References:

[1] https://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/text/42/1983

[2] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fourth_Amendment_to_the_United_States_Constitution

[3] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Knowledge_(legal_construct)

[4] https://www.law.cornell.edu/wex/general_intent

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