Resisting arrest or failing to comply with a peace officer’s lawful commands is a common crime in California. There are two separate offenses that relate to resisting an officer. One is a misdemeanor offense of resisting a lawful arrest (California Penal Code Section 148). In this case, the prosecutor must prove to the court that the defendant willfully resisted, delayed, or otherwise, obstructed a law enforcement officer or emergency medical technician (EMT) while performing or attempting to perform their duties. The prosecutor must also prove to the court that the offender knew (or reasonably should have known) that the person they were resisting was an officer or EMT engaged in those duties. This offense is punishable by up to one year in county jail and/or a maximum 1,000 fine.
The suspect may be charged with the felony crime of resisting an executive officer (California Penal Code Section 69) if the person willfully and unlawfully attempted by threats or violence to deter or prevent an executive officer from performing a lawful duty, and used force or violence to resist an executive officer in the performance of their lawful duties. An “executive officer’’ is any public employee who may exercise some or all of his/her own discretion in performing his/her job duties. This felony offense is punishable by up to three years in county jail, a fine of $500 to $5,000, or both.
The suspect can also be charged with battery on a peace officer (California Penal Code Section 243) if he/she used physical force is against the executive officer when he/she engaged in the performance of his/her lawful duties.
Possible defenses to a resisting a lawful arrest charge include;
- Lack of criminal intent.
- Wrongful arrest and police misconduct.