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Posted on March 11, 2017

Resisting Arrest Q&A

In California, resisting arrest is codified under Penal Code 148(a)(1) pc making it unlawful to resist, delay, or obstruct a police officer or firefighter from the performance of their duties. Little do people realize, resisting arrest accusations can stem from minor instances built upon gross exaggerations from law enforcement. Ordinarily, these exaggerations are the product of a suspect disrespecting law enforcement or law enforcement grossly embellishing the incident.

This article will help provide and clarify some questions a person may have if standing accused of resisting arrest. You may also be interested in reading up on some resisting arrest examples to help you understand how the prosecutor alleges these types of charges.

Is Resisting Arrest a Felony or Misdemeanor?

Resisting arrest is a misdemeanor offense only. However, if there was any force or violence alleged, then the prosecutor typically charges someone with a violation of Penal Code 69 – resisting an executive officer with violence.[1] PC 69 is a wobbler punishable as either a felony or misdemeanor. A decision solely within the discretion of the prosecuting agency.

Can I be Charged with Resisting Arrest without any Physical Altercation?

Yes. Resisting arrest does not statutorily require any physical contact with a peace officer. Instead, simply delaying or interfering with a police officer’s duties can result in being charged. For example, failing to pull over timely after an officer initiates their overhead lights to conduct a traffic stop can be enough to arrest you for resisting arrest.

What is the Punishment for Resisting Arrest?

Resisting arrest is punishable in the county jail for up to one (1) year. However, the court typically places a defendant on a period of summary probation and imposes certain terms and rehabilitative conditions. For instance, the court may order you to complete anger management, alcoholic anonymous meetings if the incident occurred while you were under the influence or psychiatric counseling. Repeat offenders can expect to face more severe penalties, often requiring incarceration.

Are there Fines or Restitution Involved if Convicted?

If convicted of resisting arrest, the court will impose fines and fees as a condition of your sentence. The fine could range anywhere up to $1,000. Furthermore, if any economic damages resulted during the encounter, the court will order you to pay restitution. Damages may include, clean-up cost, damages to a patrol vehicle, officer medical expenses, or uniform costs if the officer’s uniform tore or was damaged.

What can I Prepare a Resisting Arrest Defense?

The first step is to contact an experienced Orange County resisting arrest attorney to discuss the incident. Early intervention can help preserve critical evidence that may be subject to destruction – e.g., video surveillance footage. In addition, gather all witness information is critical for a defense investigator to contact to obtain statements. Often, resisting arrest charges are based solely upon the single statement of the police officer without any corroborating evidence. Lastly, make sure to instruct a third person to photograph all your injuries, such as bruises, cuts, or other markings for your attorney to review.

Can Resisting Arrest be Plea-Bargained to a Lesser Charge?

Through successful negotiations with the prosecutor, there are ways to accept responsibility but avoid a conviction for resisting arrest. Common plea deals include disturbing the peace or public intoxication. Negotiating with the prosecutor is ordinarily art-work where your defense attorney must point to specific technicalities in the prosecutor’s case, or valid resisting arrest defenses, or convince the prosecutor that this was an isolated instance and a conviction can substantially impact your future.

How will a Resisting Arrest Conviction Affect my Record?

If you were arrested and booked into jail, then your formal criminal record will reveal the notation that you were arrested for resisting arrest. Any conviction within the court will be transmitted to the California Department of Justice updating your record to reflect that you were convicted of the crime.[2] Consequently, prospective employers or licensing agencies may have access to your criminal record that could negatively affect your chances of gaining employment or earning a professional license. Furthermore, your record will subject you to scrutiny upon any subsequent police contact knowing that you were convicted of a crime against a police officer.

Is Resisting Arrest Eligible for Expungement?

If convicted of resisting arrest, you are eligible to obtain an expungement after successful completion of probation. If the court grants the expungement petition, then the conviction will be ordered dismissed pursuant to Penal Code 1203.4.[3] However, an expungement will not delete or nullify the conviction. Instead, a notation will be added to your criminal record reflecting that the conviction was dismissed. Unfortunately, an expungement still mandates reporting the conviction to the government or licensing agencies but does carry benefits in the private employment sector.

Contact Us to Schedule a Free Case Evaluation?

If you have been charged or arrested for resisting arrest (PC 148(a)(1)), it’s imperative that you seek advice from a respected and experienced Orange County criminal defense attorney who’s familiar with and regularly handles cases involving crimes against police officers. Contact our office today to schedule your free case evaluation.

Legal References:

[1] http://leginfo.legislature.ca.gov/faces/codes_displaySection.xhtml?sectionNum=69.&lawCode=PEN

[2] https://oag.ca.gov/

[3] https://leginfo.legislature.ca.gov/faces/codes_displaySection.xhtml?sectionNum=1203.4.&lawCode=PEN

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