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 willfully resist, obstruct or delay any public officer in the performance of their lawful duties.  Essentially, 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, this is usually the law that they will cite in taking you to jail for the evening, even if you haven't done anything else illegal.

"Resisting arrest" is a bit of misnomer, because you can be arrested on suspicion of violating PC 148(a)(1), even if you weren't even under arrest until you began resisting.  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, the 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.).

In order be found guilty of violating PC 148(a)(1), prosecutors must prove that police were actually engaged in the lawful performance of their duties.  If you are charged under this code section, you may have a defense based on an argument that police overstepped their legal authority and were, therefore, not lawfully attempting to perform their jobs.  Only an experienced attorney can tell you whether or not this is a winning argument in your case.

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 consultation.  I'd be happy to discuss the facts of your case to determine whether or not we can help.  Our firm has extensive experience in all courts within Orange County, Los Angeles, Riverside and San Bernardino.  Ask for John.  (714) 505-2468.

Thanks for reading.