San Diego police officers responded to a 911 call after midnight reporting shots fired in a Sunset Cliffs home. Shortly after arriving on the scene, more shots were fired from within the home. A SWAT team was called for additional backup. After an hour-long standoff, police took custody of two men believed to have been involved. One of the men surrendered around 1:30 AM, while the other turned himself in shortly after 2 AM.
One of the men, 39-year-old John Dorfi, was arrested on multiple charges, including illegal discharge of a firearm, assault with a firearm, making criminal threats, and resisting arrest.
What is Resisting Arrest?
In California, it is a crime to prevent a police officer from performing actions that are necessary to fulfill their job responsibilities. Resisting arrest, as defined in Penal Code 148(a) PC, occurs when a person “willfully resists, delays, or obstructs any public officer, peace officer, or an emergency medical technician…in the discharge or attempt to discharge any duty of his or her office or employment.”
In other words, it’s unlawful to stop a police officer, emergency medical professional, or peace officer from doing their job. As a result, the crime of resisting arrest actually encompasses a wide range of behavior. Behaviors that are not literally “resisting arrest” can fall under the umbrella of 148(a) PC.
What Does the State Have to Prove If I’m Charged With Resisting Arrest?
Just because you’ve been accused of a crime doesn’t mean that you’ll be convicted. State prosecutors still have to prove that you are guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. What exactly the state has to prove depends on the crime you’ve been accused of committing. When you’re charged with resisting arrest, the state has to show:
- A peace officer/police officer/EMT was lawfully performing or attempting to perform their job duties.
- You willfully resisted, obstructed, and/or delayed the performance of those job duties.
- You knew, or should have known, that the person was an officer of the law or EMT.
So, the state has to prove that you willingly prevented a person that you knew (or should have known) was a peace officer from doing their job. The state does not have to prove that you intended to break the law.
Is Resisting Arrest a Misdemeanor or a Felony?
Resisting arrest is a misdemeanor in California. If convicted, your criminal sentence could include 12 months in a San Diego County jail, $1,000 in fines, and/or probation.
However, it’s important to note that resisting arrest is not typically charged by itself. Chances are fairly high that in addition to resisting arrest, you’ve also been charged with additional crimes. The penalties for resisting arrest will likely be imposed in addition to penalties for other crimes. So, if you’re convicted of both robbery and resisting arrest, the penalties for resisting arrest can be in addition to those for robbery.
How Can I Defend Charges for Resisting Arrest?
Resisting arrest is a misdemeanor. While misdemeanors are considered to be less serious than other crimes, they can still carry harsh consequences. In fact, once you’ve completed your criminal sentence (i.e., jail time, probation) you’ll still be burdened with a criminal record. This can make it tough to find a place to live or secure a reliable job. You may even be prohibited from working in certain fields, such as healthcare or education. You can minimize the consequences of an arrest by presenting a strong defense.
Arguments that can help your defense in a case for resisting arrest include:
- You didn’t willfully resist arrest
- You didn’t know the person was a police officer or EMT
- The peace officer wasn’t trying to perform a lawful job duty, or
- You have been mistakenly identified.
Any defense you use should have to excuse or explain your behaviors.
Do you want to learn more about your legal rights after an arrest? Contact the Law Office of Vikas Bajaj. Our San Diego criminal defense attorneys are prepared to help you with your defense. Call today to learn more.