Being arrested or otherwise apprehended by a police officer or other peace officer can be a stressful experience. The officer will be saying a lot of things and you may be wondering what to do in that scenario. Based on recent news across the nation, you may be thinking that resisting an officer could result in serious injury or even death. You may feel threatened and in any situation where you feel threatened, you are likely to react to get away from that threat. If you feel you are unfairly or unjustly being detained, you may have a natural inclination to resist. Resisting arrest is a misdemeanor charge punishable with up to one year in jail and a fine up to $1000, or both. In reality, "resisting arrest" covers many different acts other than just physically resisting being arrested. This includes willful obstructing, delaying or otherwise keeping a police officer or other peace officer from performing his or her duties. For example, you could be charged with resisting arrest if you give the cop the run around and refuse to answer their questions. Or, if you shove a police officer while they are arresting someone else, you can be charged with resisting arrest. However, even though you can be charged with resisting arrest for minor uncooperativeness, it is a serious crime and can make future conflicts with police officers problematic to say the least. A cop is not likely to give you the benefit of the doubt if he runs a scan and sees you have been charged with resisting arrest. It is a red flag conviction that can affect how you are treated by the legal system down the road. A more serious form of resisting arrest is resisting an executive officer. This is a related but separate charge. If you intentionally and with force prevent an officer from performing their duties, either for your benefit or others, you can be charged with resisting an excusive officer. This can be charged as a felony and is seen as more serious than resisting arrest. In this case, using force can be using physical force or violence or using forceful threats to prevent them from performing their duties. Key aspects the prosecution must prove to convict you of this charge is that you acted willfully and intentionally. They must prove you used threat or force, with purpose, to prevent them from performing their job duties. Threat and force are relatively broad terms. Because threat is included in this law, you do not actually have to have injured or used any force against the officer to be convicted. Force can be any number of actions that are intended to keep the individual from performing his or her duties. This can include holding them back, pushing them away from something, seriously injuring them or forcing handcuffs, firearms or other items pertinent to performing their job duties out of their grasp. Similarly, you must have had to know the individual was an executive officer. An executive officer is like a peace officer; it is a public employee whose job, or part of their job, is to enforce the law. That being said, they are most often individuals like police officers, sheriffs, parking patrol cops, attorneys, judges and other officials who enforce the law. Because of the important position of these people, resisting an executive officer is taken very seriously. The prosecution also must prove that your resistance occurred while they were trying to perform their job duties, such as arresting someone or writing someone a ticket. You must also have done so unlawfully, meaning your threats or forces were not in response to an officer who is out of line or not performing their duties in accordance with guidelines. Self-defense is not considered resistance for the purposes of the law however self-defense is sometimes hard to prove. For example, if the arrest was unlawful, you cannot be charged with resisting an executive officer. Also, if you used theat or force against them but they were not engaged in their job duties, you cannot be charged with resisting an executive officer. The punishments for resisting an executive officer are a fine of up to $10,000 and jail time up to one year or a combination of both. As you can see, this charge can land you in some serious trouble. Contact an attorney if you are facing these charges to ensure you do everything you can for your defense. This is a charge well-worth fighting given the high penalties and long-standing consequences.
Have you or a loved one been charged with resisting an executive officer? Contact attorney Christopher Martens and his legal team. Experienced in criminal defense, our Visalia area legal team can evaluate your case facts and suggest possible defense strategies. Call our offices at 559-967-7386 or email us at [email protected] for a free consultation.