Legal Dictionary

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Resisting Arrest

"Resisting arrest" is the crime of resisting, obstructing or delaying a police officer who is engaged in the performance of his or her duties (for example, lawfully detaining a person for questioning or making an arrest) and the person knew or should have known the other person was a police officer. The officer need not be making an actual arrest, but only lawfully performing his or her duties. In California, resisting arrest is prosecuted under Penal Code sections 148(a)(1) and Penal Code section 69. Penal Code section 148(a)(1) encompasses not only police officers but public officers and emergency medical technicians (EMT). This offense is a misdemeanor in California punishable by up to one year in county jail. Penal Code section 69 makes it a crime (misdemeanor or felony) for anyone who attempts by means of threats of violence to deter or prevent an executive officer (including peace officers) from the performance of his or her duties or who knowingly resist, by force or violence, such officer in the performance of his or her duties. This crime is punishable by up to one year in county jail or three years in state prison.

Physical contact with the officer is not required for a resisting arrest charge. Non- violent behavior, such as verbal interference accompanied with willful delay and resistance, may constitute resisting arrest when a person is in the process of being lawfully arrested. Other examples of resisting arrest include:

  • Running or hiding from the police during a lawful traffic stop or investigation;
  • Avoiding being handcuffed by the police officer;
  • Resisting being placed in a police car after being arrested;
  • Giving a false name to a police officer during a routine traffic stop (though this is usually prosecuted under a different law, Penal Code section 148.9).

Anyone having a resisting arrest conviction in their background is likely to have problems in any future law enforcement encounter. That is why it is important to fight your resisting arrest charge. Contact an experienced criminal defense attorney in your area to learn about your charges, defenses, and any and all legal options available to you.