Resisting

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Resisting Officers and EMTs

If you are ever in a situation with a police officer, EMT, or any other kind of peace or public officer, you may be charged with resistance to their orders. This can be a serious crime and incur severe penalties depending on the circumstances. This page will break down everything you need to know about being charged with resisting certain peace officers and EMTs so you can mount an effective defense with your legal counsel.

What Does It Mean to Be Charged With Resisting a Peace Officer or EMT?

In the eyes of the court, a “peace officer” is any state or federally employed police officer, or an officer employed by an official federal or state department, such as the Department of Fish and Wildlife. Even further, any employee of a state or local government agency automatically counts as a public officer. An EMT or emergency medical technician is anyone who holds a valid certificate to carry out appropriate duties.

According to the California Penal Code 148 PC (a), to be found guilty of resisting an officer or an EMT, a defendant must be found to have:

  • Interacted with a legally employed police, peace, or public officer or certified EMT AND
  • Willfully resisted the lawful orders of an officer or EMT, or obstructed or delayed the duties of that officer or EMT AND
  • Done so knowing that it would have prevented or delayed the officer or EMT from performing their duties

This all outlines that the defendant has to be proven to have acted immorally and egregiously, with full knowledge of the consequences of their actions.

Examples

  • A police officer is attempting to break up a fighting couple. The defendant steps into the middle of the altercation after the police officer tells them not to
  • An ambulance is attempting to park at a location convenient for them to carry out their services. The defendant parks there first or, when requested, does not move
  • A journalist takes a photograph or makes an audio or video recording of an officer or EMT when it is not appropriate and when doing so creates an obvious burden on the emergency responders

However, other situations may qualify for a charge for resisting officers and EMTs. For instance, if an EMT is attempting to rescue the defendant from a dangerous situation, and the defendant struggles against the EMT's assistance by going limp, fighting back, or trying to harm them, this can also lead to a charge.

Penalties for Being Convicted of Resisting

Because resisting the orders of an officer EMT or obstructing them during their duties can potentially lead to life-threatening consequences for others, penalties for these charges can be severe. 148 PC violations are normally charged as misdemeanors and are punishable with penalties such as:

  • A maximum fine of up to $1000
  • Imprisonment of up to one year in county jail

Defenses

Although being convicted of these crimes can exact a heavy toll, there are several defenses that legal counsel can recommend and enact.

There Was No Probable Cause

There must be probable cause for being arrested for resisting officers or EMTs. For instance, a police officer cannot just arrest someone who looks at them strangely or otherwise does not directly interfere with their duties.

Orders Were Given Unlawfully

Furthermore, police officers, peace or public officers, and EMTs that give unlawful orders may be ignored by civilians. For instance, a police officer cannot tell you to use your car to ram another person to stop them from escaping. Though this is technically resisting an order, the order itself is not lawful.

The Defendant Did Not Act Willfully

If you or the defendant did not act willfully when obstructing the actions of a peace or public officer or EMT, you cannot be convicted of this crime. If your car breaks down in the middle of the road and obstructs an ambulance through no fault of your own, for example, you may avoid a conviction.

False Accusation

Lastly, defense counsel can claim that the defendant was falsely accused of the crime. This can occur in situations where lots of people are swarming an area of distress – for instance, perhaps you were identified as a rioter who damaged a building, but were not responsible for ignoring orders in reality. In another situation, the officer's version of events may not match up with what bodyworn camera video shows. 

Why You Need a Defense Attorney

While there are multiple ways to defend yourself against these types of charges, it always helps to have knowledgeable legal counsel on your side when the time comes to show up in court. The Law Office of Peter James Chambers is waiting for your call, text or email.

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“One who sits in judgment of another should feel as though the sword is pointed at their own heart.”

— THE TALMUD —

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