Resisting Arrest: California Penal Code 148

When a suspect is uncooperative, dismissive or verbally indignant, some officers take it personally. People who have committed no crime suddenly find themselves facing bogus criminal charges. In the African-American, Latino and Asian communities, citizens are all too familiar with “resisting arrest” charges.

Resisting arrest is when you have some unwanted contact with either a police officer or an EMT. This conduct can range from delaying an arrest by not complying with the officer’s demands up to engaging in a physical altercation with a peace officer. A battery does not need to be a punch or a kick, it could be any unwanted and willful contact. The crime most frequently gets charged in a situation where a police officer goes to arrest someone, and the person struggles physically to avoid being taken into custody. Police then have to apply greater force to subdue the suspect.

According to California Penal Code § 148, Resisting, Delaying, Obstructing Officer or Emergency Medical Technician, is when a person “willfully resists, delays or obstructs 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…”

California Penal Code § 243 (c) defines Battery on a Police Officer as “any battery committed against a custodial officer, firefighter, emergency Medical technician, lifeguard, process server, traffic officer, or animal control Officer engaged in the performance of his or her duties…”

This charge is considered a “Wobbler,” which means that the District Attorney has the option to file it as either a felony or a misdemeanor depending on the nature of the incident. A misdemeanor conviction of Resisting Arrest or Battery on a Police Officer carries a maximum sentence of a year in County Jail and a $1000.00 fine. If you are charged with a Felony Battery on an Officer, you could face a State Prison Sentence of 16 months, 2 years or 3 years.

The District Attorney will consider the facts of the incident in what to charge. The more aggravated the conduct, or if there were injuries to the officers, the more likely the case will be filed as a felony.