Can You Resist an Arrest in California?
Is it legal to resist an arrest in California? Generally speaking, No! According to CA Penal Code 148(a)(1) PC, resisting a police officer’s attempt to take you into custody is considered a misdemeanor offense and you will be liable to up to a year in jail or a $1,000 fine.
However, there are two main cases in which you may get away with a resisting arrest charge.
You may show resistance if you are incarcerated in an unlawful manner (otherwise known as police misconduct). That includes the following:
- You have been arrested without a warrant or a probable cause (i.e. the police officer on the site didn’t have a reasonable ground to believe that a crime had been committed). For your information, all California warrants must be signed by a judge before being issued.
- Police entered your home unauthorized by a warrant.
- Unreasonable and unproportional force was used against you.
If the police use excessive force while trying to take you into custody, you can legally use violence as a means of self-defense. CA self-defense laws give you the right to retaliate with force as long as it necessary to protect yourself. In all other cases, it may be considered an assault according to Penal Code 240 PC or Penal Code 243(b) PC – Battery on a Peace Officer. In other words, you may resist an officer who is beating you without any apparent reason. But once the beating stopped, you can no longer use force.
Be advised, if the arrest is legal and you resist it, an officer has the right to use force to subdue you.
What is considered police excessive force?
The term excessive force is quite elusive and hard to define. We should remember that police use force on a routine basis to apprehend suspects. Legal common sense dictates that any peace officer is allowed to use force necessary to apprehend a suspect while keeping people around safe. Everything that is beyond that is considered police brutality.
The problem is that the police officer on the site is the only one who is supposed to assess the level of threat imposed by the suspect and the appropriate response. In practice, the U.S. Department of Justice annually processes around 30,000 complaints dealing with false arrests and police brutality all over the nation.