What Are The Penalties For Resisting Arrest In California?

What Are The Penalties For Resisting Arrest In California?

by Aug 6, 2020

Resisting arrest is one of the most common additional charges brought against a defendant when they’ve been placed under arrest for another (usually more serious) crime. Resisting arrest is also considered an “aggravating circumstance” that can influence a judge and/or jury to impose a more severe punishment if you are convicted of other crimes.

What Qualifies As Resisting Arrest?

In California, a prosecutor must prove three things in order to obtain a conviction for resisting arrest. That the defendant:

  1. Willfully resisted, delayed, or obstructed a police officer
  2. Did so when the officer was engaged in the performance of his official duties
  3. Knew, or should have known, that the officer was engaged in his official duties

While the act of resisting an arrest is fairly self-explanatory, the law also includes other behavior that you may not be aware of, including:

  • Giving a false name to the authorities during questioning
  • Interfering with a police officer’s travel to the scene of a crime or accident
  • Obstructing the authorities from interviewing a witness of a crime
  • Attempting to interfere with police while they are monitoring a suspect in custody

Many of these scenarios are common during protests and riots, and are why so many individuals are charged with resisting arrest, even if they didn’t directly commit a crime.

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Penalties For Resisting Arrest

In California, resisting arrest is charged as a misdemeanor. The penalties for a conviction are imprisonment for up to one year in county jail, and a maximum fine of $1,000.

In many cases, rather than being sentenced to jail time, the judge may instead sentence you to misdemeanor (summary) probation.

Defending Against Resisting Arrest Charges

There are several common defensive strategies to fight charges of resisting arrest. The most common are showing that you either:

  • Did not act willfully
  • Were falsely accused
  • Were arrested without probable cause

Police officers often charge defendants with resisting arrest simply because they don’t like your attitude. Or because you’ve asked for an explanation as to why you are being arrested.

Additionally, police may use the charge to try to justify or cover up their own misconduct, racial profiling, and/or excessive force.

If you believe you’ve been falsely accused of resisting arrest, contact our office today for a free consultation.


At Quinnan Law, we offer every client a free phone consultation to discuss their unique situation and determine how we can help. To arrange a consultation, please fill out the adjacent form or call us at: (707) 540-2356.

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