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Penal Code 148 PC Resisting Arrest Laws- California PC

By Spodek Law Group | July 12, 2021

Resisting Arrest –California Penal Code 148 PC

California Penal Code 148 PC extensively defines resisting arrest as willfully resisting, delaying or obstructing law enforcement officers or emergency medical technicians in the performance of their official duties. This offense is a misdemeanor, punishable by a maximum of one year in county jail and fines of up to $1000.00.

148a1 PC states that “every person who 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, when no other punishment is prescribed, shall be punished by a fine not exceeding one thousand dollars, or by imprisonment in a county jail not to exceed one year, or by both that fine and imprisonment.”

Police officers will often write up the citation as “PC 148,” “148 PC” or “148a1 PC.”

Best Legal Defenses

There are several legal defenses that a person can raise once accused of a crime under Penal Code 148. These include showing that the defendant:

  • Did not act willfully,
  • Was falsely accused, and/or
  • Was arrested without probable cause.

Penalties You could face on conviction

A breach of Penal Code148 is charged as a misdemeanor in California. The crime is punishable by:

  • Imprisonment in county jail for up to one year, and/or
  • A maximum fine of $1,000.

Please note that instead of jail time, a judge may award a defendant with misdemeanor/ a summary probation.

The experienced California criminal defense attorneys of Spodek Law Group explain below in this article:

  1. California’s law definition of resisting arrest
  2. What are the best defenses?
  3. What is the punishment for a PC 148 conviction?
  4. Are there similar crimes a person can be charged with?

1. California’s law definition of resisting arrest

Penal Code 148 PC is the California law that makes it a crime for a person to willfully resist or obstruct a police officer, or EMT, in the performance of his official duties.

A District Attorney must prove three things so as to successfully convict an accused under this law. These are that the accused:

  1. Willfully resisted, delayed, or obstructed a police officer or EMT,
  2. Resisted when the officer/EMT was performing his/her official duties, and
  3. Knew, or should have known, that the officer/EMT was engaged in his/her official duties.

Many are aware that resisting arrest includes a person trying to obstruct the police from lawfully taking him into custody. Generally, the crime also includes a wide range of other activity, like an individual:

  • Interfering with a police officer’s travel to the scene of a crime or accident,
  • Destructing the authorities from interviewing a witness of a crime,
  • Trying to interfere with police while they are monitoring a suspect in custody.

Note that: A college campus security officer is neither a “public officer” nor a “police officer” for purposes of this law.

And that someone willfully commits an act when he does it willingly and on purpose.

2. What are the best defenses?

If a person is accused of a crime under this law, then he can challenge the accusation by raising a legal defense. A good defense can often get a charge reduced or even dismissed.

Three common defenses are:

  1. No willful act,
  2. Falsely accused, and/or
  3. No probable cause.

No willful act

An accused is only guilty under PC 148 if he acted “willfully.” This means it is always a solid legal defense for a defendant to show that he did not act with this purpose. For example, maybe an accused interfered with a police officer’s official duties on accident.

Falsely accused

Officers are often quick to charge a person with resisting arrest merely because they don’t like the person’s attitude. Or merely because the person asks for an explanation as to why he or she is being arrested. Moreover, police may use the charge to try to justify or cover up police misconduct, racial profiling, and excessive force.

Example: LAPD officers confront and detain African American man for “loitering” near a drug house. They order the suspect to take his hand out of his pockets and place them on the police cruiser. “Officers, I didn’t do anything. Why are you stopping me?” he protests several times. The officers don’t like his attitude. So they tackle him, strike him several times with their batons, and handcuff him. Now he has injuries to face and his back. The officers need to explain why they arrested him and why they injured him. So they charge him with resisting arrest, claiming “The suspect became combative, took a fighting stance and threatened the officers.”

Note that: Defense counsel can seek to show that the incident came about by way of unlawful detention or false arrest. Or that the officers are being untruthful. We can do this by gathering statements from witnesses, police body camera footage, and bringing a pitches motion to obtain the officers’ personnel files and see if they have a history of misconduct.

 No probable cause

The Fourth Ammendment to the U.S Constitution says that police must have probable cause before they can detain or arrest a suspect of a crime.

If a person was stopped or arrested for violating PC 148, and there was no probable cause, then any evidence obtained following the improper stop/arrest could get excluded from the case. This exclusion could result in the dismissal or reduction in charges.

3. What is the punishment for a PC 148 conviction?

A violation of this statute is charged as a misdemeanor in California.

The crime is punishable by:

  • Imprisonment in county jail for up to one year, and/or
  • A maximum fine of $1,000.

Please note that in lieu of jail time, a judge may award a defendant with misdemeanor (or summary probation).

Note that the L.A. County D.A.’s office generally does not prosecute resisting arrest cases unless:

  1. The suspect has been a repeat offender within the last 24 months;
  2. The suspect used physical force against the officer; or
  3. The charge is filed in connection with another offense that the LADA typically does prosecute.6

4. Are there similar crimes a person can be charged with?

There are three crimes related to resisting arrest. These are:

  1. Assault – California  PC 240,
  2. Battery on a peace officer – California PC 243b and PC 243c2 , and
  3. Resisting an executive officer – PC 69 (A violation of PC 69 is a wobbler offense, meaning that it can be charged as either a misdemeanor or a felony)

For more information, call the California criminal defense attorneys at Spodek Law Group.  We can give you a free, confidential consultation in office or by phone. We serve many clients in the, the San Fernando Valley, Pasadena, San Bernardino, Rancho Cucamonga, Long Beach, Riverside, San Diego, Oakland, the San Francisco Bay area, Orange County, Sonoma County, Ventura, Sacramento, San Jose, the greater Los Angeles area and throughout the Golden State.

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