Resisting arrest – also known as obstruction in other states – is defined as interfering with a police officer’s attempt to lawfully arrest someone or an EMT’s attempt to perform their lawful duties. In California, this offense is a misdemeanor that carries serious criminal penalties, such as a maximum jail sentence of one year and a fine of up to $1,000.
Although there must be evidence that a person intentionally resisted, obstructed, or acted violently toward a police officer during active duty, the biased testimony of law enforcement officials possesses significant weight in court. However, there are several defenses a defendant and their criminal defense attorney can bring in court to have the charge dropped.
The following are the most common legal defenses to resisting arrest:
- No intent – The defendant must purposefully and willfully interfere with an officer’s official duties. If the interference is an accident, then the accused cannot be guilty of resisting arrest.
- No probable cause – In order to make a lawful arrest, law enforcement officials must obtain probable cause that the defendant committed a crime. If there is no probable cause, any evidence obtained after the improper arrest is inadmissible in court.
- Self-defense – Police officers must use the necessary amount of force to arrest someone. But if the arresting officer acts violent or otherwise uses excessive force, the person being arrest has the right to protect himself/herself from unlawful force and resist arrest. The arresting officer must act violently first in order for the arrestee to act violently to resist arrest.
Other common crimes associated with resisting arrest include assault, assault on a police officer, and resisting an executive officer (e.g. police officer, judge, prosecutor, attorney, elected official, etc.). Both forms of assault are misdemeanors while resisting an executive officer can be charged as either a misdemeanor or a felony.
If you or a loved one has been accused of resisting arrest in Los Angeles or Orange County, The Law Office of Jacqueline Goodman is committed to helping you avoid conviction and getting your entire case dismissed. With more than two decades of experience, Attorney Jacqueline Goodman is a Certified Criminal Law Specialist who has handled many complex cases, including those involving police misconduct.