California penal code section 148 makes it illegal to intentionally resist or delay arrest, or obstruct an officer in the course of a lawful investigation. While in theory it may make sense to have a law making it illegal to resist or obstruct law enforcement officers, because the language of penal code section 148 is broad and covers a wide range of behaviors that make even minimally delaying an officer in the course of an investigation or arrest illegal, the law is susceptible to being abused by overzealous and unethical cops who have no other reason to arrest someone. In fact, many people have a hard time believing that it is, in fact, quite common to see resisting arrest as a standalone charge when no other underlying charge is present.
In some circumstances, some unethical officers may even initiate unlawful force simply because they don’t like someone’s attitude, coerce defensive actions from arrestees, all while downplaying their own role in the escalation of force, in order to justify a more serious charge like battery on a police officer, or resisting arrest by force or threat. Unfortunately, because local prosecutors rely on law enforcement to bring them all their cases, this working relationship creates a climate within these same DA’s offices that make it difficult for prosecutors to go against their own officers. This is why police officers so rarely face accountability from the local DA when they seriously injure or kill suspects during arrests.
Thankfully, with the rise of viral smartphone videos showing police abuse, the public is now more aware that police can and do abuse their authority when they believe they can get away with it. However, as a general rule, members of the public, especially those that make it on juries, still tends to believe someone wearing a uniform. Beating a bad case of resisting arrest or battery on an officer requires more than a little luck and faith that a jury has read the news recently. Gathering evidence, witness statements, recordings and police personnel records, and having an attorney that knows how to present the case, craft appropriate jury instructions, and argue the evidence is a necessity in the fight against a charge of resisting arrest, and/or battery on an officer.
Mr. Ganschow has tried and won cases involving resisting arrest and battery on an officer. Call him today for a free consultation.