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What Is Considered Resisting Arrest in California?

Posted by Ronald D. Hedding, ESQ. | Jan 08, 2020

You can be charged with resisting arrest if law enforcement informs you that they're going to arrest you and you try to prevent them from being able to arrest you. Resisting arrest usually involves some sort of physical force. California Penal Code 148(a) defines the crime of resisting arrest.

If you're not cooperating with the police and you get in a fight or an argument with them, then they're going to arrest you and they're going to have you charged with resisting arrest.

Interferes With Police Performing Their Duty

The charge can also be used if somebody interferes with the police in the performance of their duty. Somehow that ends up getting twisted into resisting arrest.

For example, if there's a domestic violence call and the police come out and talk to the alleged victim but are unable to talk to the alleged perpetrator because he has locked himself in the bedroom, then that would be interfering with the police in the performance of their duty.

They're trying to figure out what happened and they need to talk to you about it. If you're being accused in the case then you obviously need to cooperate with them. Sometimes a person who resists arrest can get charged with other crimes as well, when all they had to do was cooperate with the police.

Another common example would be when police are trying to break up a party. People don't always cooperate – they argue, they fight, and the police end up having to arrest people just to break things up. In that situation, the person may be charged with disturbing the peace as well as resisting arrest.

The bottom line is that if the police need to do their job and people get in their way, they're going to start arresting those people and charging them with crimes so that they can finish whatever it is they need to do. At some point the police have to act.

Is Resisting Arrest A Felony In California?

Resisting arrest is usually going to be charged as a misdemeanor. There really isn't a resisting arrest felony charge. However, if a person physically harms a police officer then they would probably be charged with a more serious crime as well as resisting arrest.

Resisting Arrest in California - Penal Code 148(a)

Then those additional crimes could be charged as felonies. The bottom line is that whenever the police are trying to restore order and you don't cooperate with them, you run the risk of being charged with resisting arrest, battery on a police officer, and disturbing the peace. They have a host of charges they can use in that situation.

The prosecutors work hand in hand with the law enforcement. If you get charged with resisting arrest they're going to take a close look at whatever it is you're accused of doing.

If they feel strongly that you are a problem and that they may have future problems with you, they're going to try to teach you a lesson. You may end up getting thrown in jail for a period of time.

Your best bet is to cooperate with the police and not put yourself in a position where you're charged with a crime, because it is going to be your word against theirs. If you find yourself in that position, it's obviously crucial that you get an attorney on your side and give him your version of events so that the prosecutors have a complete picture and not just one side of the story.

What If I Was Arrested For Drunk In Public And Resisting Arrest?

The most important thing is to get an attorney and let the attorney decide how to handle the case. In a misdemeanor case like resisting arrest, being drunk in public under California Penal Code 647(f), or disturbing the peace, I will go in there first without the client.

I will review the police report, talk to the prosecutor about it, and then continue the case for a period of time so that I can put myself in a position to talk to the client about it and to plan a strategy.

We need to decide how we're going to deal with the case and how we're going to talk to the prosecutors so that we end up with the best possible results and try to keep you out of jail.

About the Author

Ronald D. Hedding, ESQ.

Ronald D. Hedding, Esq., is the founding member of the Hedding Law Firm. Mr. Hedding has an extensive well-rounded legal background in the area of Criminal Law. He has worked for the District Attorney's Office, a Superior Court Judge, and as the guiding force behind the Hedding Law Firm. His multi-faceted experience sets Mr. Hedding apart and puts him in an elite group of the best Criminal Defense Attorneys in Southern California.