California Penal Code § 148 PC defines the crime of resisting arrest. This statute also applies to obstructing a police officer from carrying out any of his or her duties such as taking someone into police custody. It is important to note that this code section further applies to other types of interference with the police. The offense is a misdemeanor under California law.

PC § 148 states as follows:

“every person who willfully resists, delays, or obstructs any public officer, peace officer, or an emergency medical technician…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.”

There are three elements that the prosecution must prove to convict a defendant accused of a criminal offense under PC § 148. To be convicted under § 148, it must be shown that the accused:

  1. willfully resisted, delayed, or obstructed a police officer or EMT,
  2. at a time when the officer/EMT was engaged in the performance of his or her official duties, and
  3. knew, or should have known, that the officer/EMT was engaged in performing his or her official duties.

A criminal charge under this section requires a willful act involving resistance, delay, or obstruction. This willful act must occur when the police officer or EMT is performing their official duties. Finally, the accused must or should have known that the police officer or EMT was working in an official capacity. An individual commits an act willfully when he or she does it willingly or on purpose. It is not required that the individual possess the intent to break the law, hurt someone else, or gain an advantage.

Any of the following actions may merit criminal charges under § 148:

  • struggling with police officers as they try to handcuff the accused or another arrestee
  • providing a false name to the authorities during interrogation
  • delaying a police officer’s travel to the scene of an accident or crime
  • interfering with a police officer while he or she is interviewing a witness
  • obstructing the police while they monitor a suspect
  • jeering at an EMT as he or she tries to administer medical assistance

Not all instances of resisting arrest are clear-cut. There is a history, especially in the urban areas of California, of police using a charge of resisting arrest to conceal or even justify police misconduct, such as excessive force and racial profiling. In this situation, an experienced criminal defense attorney may show that the alleged event occurred because of unlawful detention or false arrest.

The attorneys at the Dolan Law Offices may help any Californian obtain the best possible result in his or her criminal matter. John Patrick Dolan is a California State Bar Certified Specialist in Criminal Law. Certification as a Specialist in Criminal Law is the highest achievement awarded by the State Bar of California to attorneys in the field of criminal law. The attorneys at the Dolan Law Offices have decades of experience defending individuals charged with drug possession, domestic violence, DUI, and violent felonies. Call us today at (760) 775-3739 or find out more online here.

How Does California Define Resisting Arrest?