Is it Legal to Resist an Unlawful Arrest? (PC 148)
You can be lawfully arrested if a peace officer has:
- A warrant for your arrest, or
- Probable cause to believe you have committed a criminal act
Probable cause only requires that the facts known to the arresting officer at the time of your arrest would convince a reasonable person that you committed a crime.
But what if you are arrested having committed no crime at all? What if the officer has no warrant or probable cause to arrest you? If this happens to you, can you legally resist the officer attempting to arrest you?
The Crime of Resisting Arrest – PC 148(a)(1)
If you willfully resist, delay or otherwise obstruct a law enforcement officer in the performance of his or her duties, you could be convicted of resisting arrest under California Penal Code Section 148(a)(1).
This means that even if you are ultimately not charged with or convicted of the crime for which you were arrested, you could still face charges of resisting arrest.
“Performance of duty” includes a broad range of job functions, and there are a number of ways you can be accused of interfering with those duties. Certainly, attempting to physically fight the police is grounds for a resisting arrest charge under PC 148(a)(1), but resistance can also be non-physical. For example, giving a false name to the officer questioning you about a crime or ignoring a police officer’s order to leave while someone else is being arrested could also lead to a charge of resisting arrest.
Is It Legal to Resist an Unlawful Arrest?
Although you could be charged with resisting arrest if you attempt to use physical force to prevent law enforcement officers from arresting you, the fact that the arrest was unlawful could be a legal defense to resisting arrest charges.
Making unlawful arrests is not considered a job duty of a peace officer, which means that you should not be convicted of resisting arrest under PC 148(a)(1) if the arrest was unlawful. This also means that you could use self-defense to resist an unlawful arrest provided that you use no more force than a reasonable person in the same situation would have believed was necessary.
However, that you have a valid legal defense to resisting arrest charges is no guarantee that you will not face charges. The wisest course of action is to leave the resisting to your experienced criminal defense attorney at Wallin & Klarich.
What to Do if You are Arrested
Our experienced criminal defense attorneys recommend that you do not resist arrest, even if you believe the arrest is unlawful. When you have an encounter with a law enforcement officer, you should:
- Be polite and courteous
- Provide them with your correct name if requested
- Provide them with correct identification if asked to do so
- If you are stopped while driving, provide them with proof of valid car insurance if asked to do so
- Politely tell the law enforcement officer that you choose to not answer his or her questions and wish to speak to your lawyer
Do not speak to any law enforcement officer aside from following the steps above.
Contact Wallin & Klarich Today if You are Charged with Resisting Arrest
If you or someone you love has been charged with resisting arrest under PC 148, it is critical that you speak with an experienced criminal defense attorney as soon as possible. Our skilled and knowledgeable criminal lawyers at Wallin & Klarich have more than 40 years of experience successfully defending people charged with resisting arrest. Let us help you now.
With offices in Orange County, Riverside, San Bernardino, Victorville, Torrance, West Covina, Los Angeles and San Diego, there is an experienced Wallin & Klarich criminal defense attorney available to help you no matter where you are located.
Contact our law firm today at (877) 4-NO-JAIL or (877) 466-5245 for a free phone consultation. We will get through this together.