Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Resisting Arrest in California: PC 148(a)(1)

Section 148(a)(1) of the California Penal Code makes it a misdemeanor to resist, obstruct or delay the police while an officer is trying to do his job (or, "attempting to perform some lawful duty").  Basically, this code section makes it a crime to waste a cop's time.  If a police officer feels that you are making his job more difficult or time-consuming than necessary, PC 148(a)(1) gives him the authority to cite you or take you to jail for the evening, even if you haven't done anything else illegal.

"Resisting arrest" is a misnomer because you can be arrested for PC 148(a)(1), even if you weren't even under arrest until you began bothering the officer.  My clients tell me all the time, "I can't be guilty of resisting arrest, because I wasn't under arrest until I was arrested for resisting arrest".  Unfortunately, this law encompasses all sorts of behavior that "obstructs or delays" police while they attempt to perform their duties.  Cops and prosecutors will argue that the law includes behaviors which are merely annoying or inconvenient to police (talking back, refusing to identify yourself, getting in the way, creating a distraction, etc.).

Just because you were arrested for 148(a)(1) doesn't necessarily mean that you are guilty of any crime.  There are many possible defenses to the charge.  If police overstepped their legal authority, for example, then they were not "lawfully attempting to perform their duties", and you are not guilty of "obstructing or delaying" them.  Police frequently use PC 148(a)(1) arbitrarily to bully anyone who merely annoys them or who engages in free speech that they don't like.

If you or a loved one is accused of resisting, obstructing or delaying a police officer in violation of PC 148(a)(1), call our office for a free attorney consultation.  (714) 449-3335.

Thanks for reading.

Orange County Resisting Arrest Lawyer