When police arrest someone for a crime they didn’t commit, it is common for the innocent party to fight back and argue with the officers because the circumstances are simply unfair. Alternatively, sometimes people who know they are guilty of a crime resist arrest because they are scared of the potential penalties they may be up against. Whatever the reason, if you resist arrest in San Diego, you can face serious penalties and it is critical you speak with a criminal attorney as soon as possible.
What does it Mean to Resist Arrest in San Diego?
While most people think resisting arrest just means fighting police officers who are trying to put you in custody, California Penal Code Section 148(a) (PC) states that any conduct that resists or delays an officer in the lawful performance of his or her duties is a crime. This includes struggling to avoid being put in handcuffs, fighting police officers, spitting at the police and fighting against being put into a police car or holding cell. These charges apply to all law enforcement officers, including sheriffs and Highway Patrol officers.
Resisting Arrest Penalties
In San Diego, resisting arrest charges may filed as either a misdemeanor or a felony depending on the specifics of the case. Resisting, delaying or obstructing the officer in the lawful performance of his duties is a misdemeanor, even being uncooperative and causing an officer to take additional time to arrest someone can be a misdemeanor-level crime. If you threatened or acted violently against the officer, you may be charged with a felony.
If the you are convicted of a misdemeanor, you could face up to one year in county jail and $1000 in fines. If the crime is charged as a felony, you could end up in the state prison for up to three years if you are convicted. As you can see, if you have been charged with resisting arrest in San Diego, it doesn’t matter whether the crime has been filed as a misdemeanor or felony, is is critical you work with a top criminal defense lawyer to fight these charges. In many cases, your defense attorney may be able to get felony charges reduced to a misdemeanor.
Fighting the Criminal Charges
The most common defense against these crimes is the argument that the police officer wasn’t in the lawful performance of his duties. If the law enforcement officer did not have probable cause to arrest you or was using excessive force, then he was not acting in the lawful performance of his duties and you were not committing a criminal act by resisting the arrest. In modern times, this is an increasingly successful defense since many arrests are filmed on cell phone or body cameras by a concerned member of the public who feels the police or sheriffs may be violating the law themselves.
Alternatively, if you were acting under duress, for example because you were seeking emergency medical attention, it may be completely justified that you delayed a law enforcement officer in the performance of his or her duties.
If you are charged with resisting arrest or any related crimes, such as evading the police, DUI, domestic violence, theft, assault, battery, etc., please call attorney Peter M. Liss at (760) 643-4050 to schedule a free consultation to discuss your case.