Resisting Arrest | California Penal Code 148(a)(1) PC


Definition & Elements

In California, resisting arrest under Penal Code 148(a)(1) PC prohibits from intentionally resisting, delaying or obstructing a law enforcement officer or EMT from performing their duties.[1]  “In performance of their duties” includes all actions performing within their job function and not just acts in effectuating an arrest.

To prove someone is guilty of resisting arrest under PC 148(a)(1), the following elements must be met:

  1. Your accuser was a public officer lawfully performing or attempting to perform their duties;
  1. Defendant willfully resisted, obstructed, or delayed the public officer in the performance or attempted performance of their duties;
  1. Defendant knew or should have known the person was a public officer performing or attempting to perform their duties.[2]

Legal Defenses to Penal Code 148(a)(1) Charges

Self-Defense:  When a police officer engages in excessive force, then a defendant may defend themselves no more than necessary under the circumstances.  Moreover, a person cannot expect to cooperate with police while undergoing unnecessary force.  The standard applied in these circumstances is “reasonableness”.  Consequently, self-defense claims are measured on a case-by-case basis.

Unlawful Arrest:  Prior to any detention, the officer must be armed with either probable cause or reasonable suspicion.  This requires the officer to have some suspicion that a crime is or had occurred.  Therefore, attacking the underlying detention can serve as a defense to resisting arrest since the detention should never occurred in the first place.

Misconduct:  An officer may have a documented history of misconduct where an attorney can file a Pitchess motion to obtain citizen complaints involving this officer’s conduct.  This is incredibly useful when either impeaching the officer or demonstrating their habitual character trait for misconduct.

Knowledge:  Another important defense involve knowledge that the defendant knew the officer was a public officer.  Thus, in cases involving undercover operations or perhaps an officer attempts to effectuate your arrest from behind, if you neither knew or should have known under the circumstances, then you cannot be convicted of resisting arrest.

Punishment & Sentencing

Resisting arrest is punishable as a misdemeanor carrying:

  • Up to one (1) year in the county jail,
  • Fine not exceeding $1,000.

Ordinarily, the court places a defendant on probation and imposes terms such as community service/labor, counseling, anger management, or substance abuse meetings.

Resisting Arrest Examples

A police officer was dispatched to a home over a domestic violence dispute.  During the investigation stages, the husband ran out of the house to avoid being subsequently arrested.  After catching up to the husband, the officer arrested him for penal code 148(a)(1).  In this case, the husband delayed the officers’ duties of swiftly investigating the domestic violence case by running away attempting to avoid capture.

In another example, Dan was stopped for failing to stop at a stop sign.  The officer ran Dan’s background where an outstanding bench warrant came up.  The officer informed Dan of the warrant and asked that he exit his vehicle.  Dan refused and then locked his door refusing to come out.  The officer broke the window to extract Dan from his car.  Here, Dan obstructed and delayed the officer form effectuating his arrest by locking his vehicle and refusing to exit.

Contact Us to Schedule a Free Consultation

If you’ve been charged with resisting arrest under PC 148(a)(1) or a related violent crime, it may not seem like you have many options.  But, it’s important to understand that you’re innocent unless the prosecutor proves their case beyond a reasonable doubt.  Thus, it’s crucial to have an experienced Orange County Criminal Defense Attorney in your corner.  Speak with an attorney today at the Law Offices of John D. Rogers and schedule your free case evaluation.

Related Offenses

  • Assault – California Penal Code 240 PC
  • Battery – California Penal Code 242 PC
  • Assault with a Deadly Weapon – California Penal Code 245(a)(1) PC



Legal References:

[1] Penal Code 148(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.”

[2] CALCRIM No. 2656:

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