People are rarely arrested during moments of calm and clear thinking. Instead, the circumstances surrounding the typical arrest are extremely stressful and often involve the exercise of poor judgment. Whatever the circumstances, it is important to remember that if your actions have drawn the attention of the police, you will be better off cooperating with the officer.
Although you should steadfastly assert your right to remain silent in the face of police questioning, you should always remain cooperative and refrain from any conduct that could rise to the level of obstructing, resisting, or delaying the officer in the exercise of his officials duties. Minor incidents that might have resulted in the police issuing you a ticket for an infraction such as public intoxication can become serious criminal charges if your actions toward the police amount to resisting arrest.
California Penal Code Section 148(a)(1)
California Penal Code Section 148(a)(1) defines the crime of resisting arrest as willfully obstructing, resisting, or delaying an officer who is lawfully performing or attempting to perform his or her duties when the defendant knew or should have known that the person he was resisting was an officer attempting to perform his duties. For example, if you are pulled over in a traffic stop on suspicion of driving under the influence of alcohol, you can expect the police officer will give you several orders in order to ensure his safety and to allow him to investigate his suspicions. If you struggle with the officer or refuse to obey his commands, you will likely find yourself charged with resisting arrest.
Consequences of Resisting Arrest
The penalties for resisting arrest in California can be severe. Normally, the offense is charged as misdemeanor. Sentences will vary depending upon the facts of the offense and the criminal history of the defendant, but could include incarceration in a county jail for a period of up to one year, and a $1000 fine. In addition to the sentence itself, a resisting arrest conviction can carry other grave consequences as well. For example, if you are arrested again in the future and you have a resisting arrest conviction on your record, there is a strong possibility that the officers who see your record will treat you more harshly than if you had no such record.
A skilled California criminal defense attorney can assist you by working to get your resisting arrest charges reduced to an infraction such as disturbing the peace or by developing a strong defense that will defeat the charges completely. There are several viable defenses to resisting arrest charges. For example, if the defendant can show that the officer wrongfully arrested the defendant, then the defendant cannot be convicted of resisting arrest.
As a former prosecutor, Diana Weiss Aizman of the Aizman Law Firm has extensive experience and unique insight into the process of negotiating with prosecutors for the dismissal of criminal charges and in defending resisting arrest charges. Contact the Aizman Law Firm right away if you have been charged with resisting arrest.