Resisting Arrest In California

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Resisting arrest is one of those strange charges that people often think is unfair, in large part because it’s a discretionary charge that can make the police appear inconsistent.

What is Resisting Arrest?

If you think that bolting and running when the police pull out the handcuffs and start reciting the Miranda Rights is an example of resisting arrest, you’re absolutely right. What you might not know is that there are other, far more subtle, things you can do that could result in you being charged with resisting arrest.

Different things the police can consider to be grounds for a resisting arrest charge include:

  • Refusing to put your hands behind your back when they’re ready to cuff you

Providing false information that’s designed to conceal your identity when you’re questioned by the police:

  • Going limp when the police officers ask you to get into the car
  • Pretending you don’t hear a request made by a police officer
  • Getting into a verbal or physical argument with the officer when they’re preparing to arrest you
  • Shutting the door in a police officer’s face when they’re attempting to arrest/question you

Basically, if a police officer feels that you’ve done something that makes their job more difficult, they can decide to charge you with resisting arrest.

Can You Still be Charged with Resisting Arrest After the Original Charges are Dropped?

One of the strange things about resisting arrest charges is that they don’t depend on additional charges. A resisting arrest charge is completely separate from whatever the original charge/crime that originally directed the police’s attention to you. This means that even if all of the other charges are dropped, you can still be charged with resisting arrest.

How Serious is a Resisting Arrest Charge?

The California legal system considers resisting arrest to be a misdemeanor. If you’re convicted, the maximum sentence you can receive is a year in jail and a fine of $1,000. It’s not unusual for judges to simply sentence you to summary probation following a resisting arrest conviction.

Individuals who have a history of resisting arrest are far more likely to receive the maximum sentence than individuals who have never before been charged with resisting arrest.

Can you Fight a Resisting Arrest Charge in California?

A resisting arrest charge isn’t something you simply have to accept. You can fight the charge.

The first step in fighting a resisting arrest charge in California is acquiring the services of a good criminal defense lawyer. Your lawyer will look at your case and determine what the best possible defense is.

Commonly used defenses include:

  • The police used excessive force during the arrest and what they interpreted as resisting was really self-defense on your part
  • That no one was harmed as a result of your actions,
  • That the original reason for the arrest was unlawful or unsubstantiated

When all is said and done, the only thing resisting arrest does is make your current legal situation even more complicated, so it really is in your best interest to stay calm, cool, and collected and simply follow the police officer’s instructions when they’re questioning and about to arrest you.