February 7, 2014 By Paul Wallin

Pulling a Bieber: Consequences of Resisting Arrest in California (Penal Code 148)

Resisting ArrestJustin Bieber – the teenage population can’t seem to get enough of him. Neither can law enforcement. The 19-year-old Canadian singer has recently been accused of egging his neighbor’s house and arrested for reckless driving and DUI, according to various media reports. His most recent run-in with the law in Miami, Fla. involved alleged high speed drag racing while reportedly under the influence.

According to Miami law enforcement officials, Bieber used expletives towards arresting officers and was uncooperative.

If Justin Bieber had been in California, he could have been charged under Penal Code 148, California’s resisting arrest law. Let’s take a look at what it means to resist arrest…

Resisting Arrest under Penal Code 148

Pursuant to Penal Code Section 148(a), in California it is a crime to willfully resist, delay or obstruct a peace officer or emergency medical technician (EMT) in the course of performing his or her duties. These duties include not just arresting someone. They also include a wide range of other activities as well, such as:

  • Traveling to the scene of a crime or accident;
  • Interviewing people to investigate a crime, and/or
  • Monitoring a criminal suspect who is in custody.

According to the police report filed by Miami law enforcement, Bieber was ordered to get out of the Lamborghini he had been racing by an officer and told to place his hands on the hood of the sports car. Bieber’s police report states that he repeatedly kept turning around to face the officer after being instructed not to and yelled obscenities. His willful defiance of the arresting officer’s instructions caused the officer to charge him with resisting arrest.

Other Ways You Can Be Charged with Resisting Arrest under Penal Code Section 148

If you take a weapon from an officer while resisting arrest, you can be prosecuted for violating Penal Code 148(b). If the weapon is anything other than a gun, you can be found guilty of either a misdemeanor or a felony – commonly known as a “wobbler” offense.

However, if you take a peace offer’s firearm while resisting arrest, you face felony charges under Penal Code 148(c).

Defenses to a Resisting Arrest Charge

There are a variety of legal defenses to a charge of resisting arrest that your California criminal defense attorney may raise on your behalf. We explore two of those defenses in this section.


If you resist an officer who is using excessive force against you, you are entitled to exercise your right to defend yourself. California law protects your right to self-defense. Self-defense as a legal defense will protect your conduct provided that:

1. You protected yourself from the officer using no more force than you believed was reasonably necessary; and
2. You used no more force than a reasonable person in the same situation would have believed was necessary to protect him/herself.

Police misconduct

If the police are not lawfully engaged in performing their duties, you may have a defense to a charge of resisting arrest. Otherwise known as “police misconduct,” examples of unlawful police procedures include, but are not limited to the following:

  • Failure of law enforcement to execute a lawful arrest warrant;
  • Arresting you without probable cause;
  • Entering your home without a valid search warrant or without your consent;
  • Using excessive force; and
  • Racial profiling.

In these situations, your California criminal defense attorney may file what is known as a “Pitchess Motion.” A Pitchess Motion is a request to examine the personnel file of the arresting officer for evidence of improper police procedure.

If you were subject to arrest by a peace officer with a history of misconduct complaints and/or disciplinary action, your criminal defense attorney may be able to argue that the charges against you should be dismissed.

Sentencing and Punishment for Resisting Arrest in California

If you are convicted, a misdemeanor charge of resisting arrest in California carries a sentence of up to one year in jail and/or a maximum $1,000 fine. A felony resisting arrest conviction can send you to jail for 16 months, two or three years. You could also be fined up to $10,000.

Contact Wallin & Klarich Today if You are Facing Resisting Arrest Charges

If you or someone you know has been accused of resisting arrest, you should contact our attorneys at Wallin & Klarich today. Hiring an attorney from Wallin & Klarich gives you the best possible chance to resolve your case so that you can avoid having to serve jail time and paying hefty fines. If we are unable to get the charges against you dropped, we may be able to convince the court that you should be granted probation rather than go to jail.

With offices in Los Angeles, Sherman Oaks, Torrance, Tustin, San Diego, Riverside, San Bernardino, Ventura, West Covina and Victorville, our attorneys at Wallin & Klarich have over 40 years of experience successfully representing our clients facing resisting arrest charges. We will fight to protect all of your constitutional rights. We will aggressively defend you during every step of the process. We will employ every strategy available to help you win your case.

Call us today at (877) 4-NO-JAIL or (877) 466-5245 for a free telephone consultation. We will get through this together.

AUTHOR: Paul Wallin

Paul Wallin is one of the most highly respected attorneys in Southern California. His vast experience, zealous advocacy for his clients and extensive knowledge of many areas of the law make Mr. Wallin a premiere Southern California attorney. Mr. Wallin founded Wallin & Klarich in 1981. As the senior partner of Wallin & Klarich, Mr. Wallin has been successfully representing clients for more than 30 years. Clients come to him for help in matters involving assault and battery, drug crimes, juvenile crimes, theft, manslaughter, sex offenses, murder, violent crimes, misdemeanors and felonies. Mr. Wallin also helps clients with family law matters such as divorce and child custody.

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