FREE Case Review (866) 588-0600

What Does Resisting, Delaying or Obstructing an Officer Mean?

Resisting, delaying, or obstructing an officer typically refers to actions that interfere with law enforcement officers performing their duties. These actions can range from physical resistance to non-physical forms of interference.
Awards & recognition
C.L. Mike Schmidt Published by C.L. Mike Schmidt

What is Resisting Arrest?

According to KannLaw, under California Penal Code (CPC) §148(a)(1), Resisting Arrest occurs when an individual intentionally resists, delays, or obstructs law enforcement officers or emergency technicians while they are performing their official duties [1]. This statute encompasses actions aimed at preventing these professionals from carrying out their responsibilities.

Penalties for Violating CPC §148(a)(1)
Resisting Arrest is classified as a misdemeanor in California. If convicted, the penalties can include:

  • Jail Time: Up to one year in county jail.
  • Fines: Up to $1,000.
  • Combination: Both imprisonment and a fine.

Plea Bargaining
Due to its relation to multiple offenses, charges under §148(a)(1) often serve as a basis for plea bargaining agreements. This allows for potential negotiation and reduction of charges.

What Constitutes Resisting Arrest?
To be found guilty under CPC §148(a)(1), the prosecution must establish the following elements beyond a reasonable doubt:

  • Intentional Interference: The defendant willfully intended to break the law.
  • Obstruction: The defendant specifically acted in a way that resisted, delayed, or obstructed an officer or emergency technician.
  • Targeted Professionals: The interference involved a police officer, public officer, peace officer, or emergency services technician.
  • Lawful Duties: The obstruction occurred while the officer or technician was performing lawful duties.
  • Awareness: The defendant knew or should have reasonably known that their actions interfered with an officer or emergency technician.

What is Obstructing an Officer?

According to Moore Law, obstructing an Officer, commonly known as Obstruction, is a serious misdemeanor offense. It carries potential penalties of up to one year in jail and a fine of up to $500 [2]. This charge is relatively common but can sometimes be overused or misapplied by law enforcement officers.

Legal Definition
According to W. Va. Code § 61-5-17(a), Obstruction occurs when “[a] person who by threats, menaces, acts or otherwise forcibly or illegally hinders or obstructs or attempts to hinder or obstruct a law-enforcement officer . . . .” In State v. Johnson, 134 W.Va. 357, 59 S.E.2d 485 (1950), the Court clarified that “forcibly or illegally” refers to any unlawful interference with an officer performing their official duties. Lawful conduct does not qualify as obstruction.

Common Situations Leading to Obstruction Charges
A person may be charged with Obstruction for various actions, including:

  • Resisting Arrest: Actively preventing an officer from making an arrest.
  • Fleeing: Running away from law enforcement to avoid arrest.
  • Interfering with Another’s Arrest: Trying to prevent the arrest of another individual.
  • Refusing Lawful Orders: Not complying with a lawful command from a police officer.

Additional Charges

Those charged with Obstruction are often also charged with related offenses such as:

  • Public Intoxication
  • Disorderly Conduct
  • Underage Consumption

Legal Process
After being charged, the individual will be taken before a magistrate or other judicial official for arraignment and bail setting. The arraignment is not the time to present your defense; this will occur at a subsequent hearing or trial.

Resisting or Obstructing an Officer PC 148(a)(1)

While verbal statements can be considered obstruction, the clearest cases typically involve physical actions such as resisting or blocking police officers. Many instances of resisting or delaying arrest are subjective and depend on the officer’s perspective and judgment.

Violations of California Penal Code §148
California courts have identified several behaviors that violate PC 148:

  • Passive Resistance: Going limp during an arrest, forcing officers to drag or carry the individual.
  • Physical Resistance: Struggling, running away, or hiding from officers knowing they intend to detain you.
  • Interference: Speaking with an arrested person in a police car despite repeated orders to stay away.
  • Intimidation: Trying to dissuade a witness from speaking to the police about a crime.
  • False Information: Providing a false name to officers after being arrested.

Behaviors Not Considered Obstruction
Certain actions are not considered violations of PC 148:

  • Resisting Unlawful Orders: Any resistance to an officer’s unlawful commands is not a violation.
  • Criticizing Officers: Criticizing a police officer is protected by the First Amendment, as long as it does not impede an investigation, breach the peace, or encourage criminal acts.
  • Refusal to Identify: A defendant’s refusal to provide their name while being transported to jail is not a violation since the arrest has already occurred and no additional delay is caused.

However, failure to provide a name during the booking process can be considered delaying.

Important Considerations
Understanding what constitutes resisting, delaying, or obstructing an officer is crucial for ensuring compliance with the law and protecting your rights. While physical resistance is a clear violation, other actions may fall into a gray area that depends on the circumstances and the officer’s interpretation.

Related Articles:

If you feel affected by any of these matters, contact our criminal defense attorney today.

Get a Free Lawsuit Evaluation With Our Lawyers

The Litigation Group at Schmidt & Clark, LLP is an experienced team of trial lawyers that focuses on the representation of plaintiffs in lawsuits. We are handling individual litigation nationwide and are currently accepting new legal challenges in all 50 states.

If you or a loved one was involved with these matters, you should contact our law firm immediately for a free case evaluation. You may be entitled to a settlement by filing a suit and we can help.



Free Confidential Case Evaluation

Verified 100% Secure SiteTo contact us for a free review of your potential case, please fill out the form below or call us toll free 24 hrs/day by dialing: (866) 588-0600.