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Resisting arrest
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What are the differences between willful resistance and delay or obstructing a peace officer?

In the State of California, Penal Code 148 PC defines the willful resistance, delay, or obstruction of peace officers or emergency medical technicians who are performing their duty as a crime. More commonly, these actions are referred to as “resisting arrest,” and they’re classified as misdemeanors under California law. 

If you were to be prosecuted for such a crime, the prosecutor would have to prove that you did the following: 

  • Resisted, obstructed, or delayed an EMT or police officer while they were performing their official duties, and you were aware of it.

 Many assume that “resisting arrest” means only trying to obstruct the police from arresting you; however, the crime includes a lot of other activities such as: 

  • Blocking the police while they travel to the scene of a crime or accident
  • Making it difficult for the authorities to question or interview the witness of a crime
  • Obstructing the police while they are monitoring a person in custody

 Below there are two very important points to note: 

  • A college campus security officer is not a police officer nor holds a similar statute.
  • When someone commits an act willingly, that means he does it on purpose; it doesn’t mean that they intended to break the law or hurt someone. 
What Are Some Examples of Resisting Arrest? 

If you don’t know exactly what we mean when we say “resisting arrest,” let’s see a few examples that showcase what actions can be classified as a violation of Penal Code 148: 

  • Making it difficult for police officers to apply handcuffs by using force
  • Taunting or actively disrupting the work of an EMT as they try to help a victim
  • Providing false information to authorities while being questioned 
What Can You Do If You Get a “Resisting Arrest” Charge? 

Should you get accused of a crime that falls under Penal Code 148, then you can definitely challenge the accusation and either get it reduced or even dismissed. There are three popular ways to defend yourself: 

  • Stating it was not a willful act
  • Claiming to be falsely accused
  • No probable cause 

 Let’s look at what they all mean. 

No Willful Act

As mentioned in a previous paragraph, you’re only considered guilty under PC 148 if you acted “willfully.” This means that you can build a solid defense on the premise that you did not do the act on purpose. For example, it could be that you interfered with a police officer by accident.

Falsely Accused

It may be the case that you get charged with “resisting arrest” simply because the police officers didn’t like your attitude. Sometimes, you can get this kind of a charge, even for simply asking the reason for an arrest. Furthermore, police sometimes use the resisting arrest charge to try and justify police misconduct or use of excessive force.

In this case, your defense can claim that the incident happened because of unlawful detention or false arrest. Or that the officers are not telling the truth. This can be proven with statements from witnesses and police body cam footage.

No Probable Cause

According to the important Fourth Amendment of the U.S Constitution, the police must have probable cause before arresting an individual. That means that if a person was arrested for violating Penal Code 148 and there wasn’t any probable cause, then any evidence obtained after the arrest can get excluded from the case. Due to this exclusion, the charge may be dismissed or reduced. Here, prosecutors have to prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. If they are not able to do so, the case should be dropped.

Regardless of the classification of the offense, it is important that you seek the assistance of competent legal counsel to help you best understand your legal defense while identifying an outcome that best minimizes your risk. We here at the H Law group patiently await your call

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