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California Penal Code 148 Resisting Arrest

California Penal Code Section 148 PC is a law that prohibits resisting, delaying, or obstructing the duties of a peace officer. Unfortunately, many people are charged with resisting arrest when they did nothing wrong. Instead, the prosecutor may use it as a way to try and get the individual to plead guilty to other charges, even if they are innocent of all charges. Instead of giving in to the threats of the prosecutor, talk to an experienced local East Bay criminal defense lawyer for help.

Penal Code 148 PC Text 

Under California Penal Code Section 148, it is an offense to willfully resist, delay, or obstruct 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. 

The penalties for a conviction for resisting arrest include a fine of up to $1,000 and imprisonment in a county jail for up to one year. 

Elements of the Offense

The police may try and write up any charges they can think of, even if there is no chance of a conviction. In order to be convicted if you plead “not guilty”, the prosecutor or district attorney, needs to prove every element of the case, “beyond a reasonable doubt.” If there is some doubt that even one element is not met, you should not be found guilty.  

Under the Judicial Council of California Criminal Jury Instructions, to prove the defendant is guilty of PC 148(a), the state has to prove: 

  1. The other party involved was a peace officer lawfully performing or attempting to perform their duties as a peace officer; 
  2. The defendant willfully resisted, obstructed, or delayed the officer in the performance of those duties or attempted performance of those duties; AND
  3. When the defendant acted, he or she knew, or reasonably should have known, that the person was a peace officer performing or attempting to perform their duties. 

Just because a police officer is doing something does not necessarily make it lawful. If a police officer is unlawfully arresting or detaining someone or using excessive force, that may not be considered a lawful performance of their duties. However, resisting an unlawful arrest can still make your situation more difficult and could lead to injuries. The place and time to challenge an unlawful arrest is through the courts, not on the streets. 

What is considered “resisting” can be very broad. The police and prosecutor may consider any challenge to their authority to be obstruction. If a person intentionally goes limp, requiring an officer to drag or carry the person may be construed as willful resistance. Talk to your criminal defense attorney about your situation to make sure you have an advocate on your side to defend your rights. 

Videotaping the Police

The police do not always like it when a member of the public is videotaping them. The police may try and do something or say anything to get the person recording to stop. The officers may threaten to arrest the person for obstruction just because they are videotaping the police. However, taking a photograph or making an audio or video recording of an officer is not, by itself, a crime. 

When the officer is in a public place or the person taking the photograph or making the recording is in a place where he or she has the right to be is not, recording itself is not a crime. Making a recording or taking a photo also does not constitute reasonable suspicion to detain the person and it does not provide probable cause to make an arrest. 

If the police threaten to arrest you for recording them and you have the right to be there, do not fight back. Fighting back against the police is generally a bad idea and will not help your case. Instead, the place to challenge the arrest and criminal charges is in court. 

Defense Strategies for Resisting Arrest Charges in California 

Whether you were arrested after peacefully protesting, videotaping mistreatment of someone else, or the police tacked on a resisting arrest charge to other offenses, it is important to understand your rights. Possible defenses to resisting arrest charges include: 

  • The officers were not making a lawful arrest
  • The police were using excessive force
  • The defendant was only videotaping police activity and not impeding their duties
  • The defendant did not know the person was a police officer

The prosecutor may try and use resisting arrest as a bargaining chip to get you to plead guilty to other charges. Instead of taking a plea deal, talk to a criminal defense attorney about your case. 

Defense Lawyer for 148 PC Charges in Alameda and Contra Costa Counties

Resisting arrest charges are thrown around by police and prosecutors without any basis in fact.  East Bay attorney Lynn Gorelick has more than 35 years of criminal defense experience and understands the consequences of a pleading guilty to a crime without fighting the charges. Representing drivers in Alameda County and Contra Costa County, Lynn Gorelick is familiar with the local criminal laws, local officers, and the prosecutors involved. Contact East Bay criminal defense lawyer Lynn Gorelick today.

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