Resisting Arrest

DA Office Found Arrest Disparities in Santa Clara County

The Santa Clara County District Attorney’s Office found disparities in the percentages of Latino and Black individuals charged with misdemeanors and felonies. These findings confirm anecdotal impressions and data from the San Jose police department.

Disparities were found across all charges beginning with the following points of encounter: car stops, 911 calls, in person street encounters, results of police investigations and resisting a police officer.

This final category reveals a disproportion that is both notable and troubling. The proportion of people charged with resisting arrest (CA Penal Code 148) were 50% Latino and 14% Black. Latinos make up 26% of the county’s population, Blacks make up 3%.

“Resisting an officer” is a subjective determination. Frequently, those charged believe that they are in fact the victims of rough treatment by police officers.  Concerns regarding resisting an officer charges that follow a use of force by police officers are being voiced by San Jose’s Independent Police Auditor, many attorneys, individual residents and community advocates.

It is important to point out that these numbers were not caused by people coming into Santa Clara County from other areas, as the same disparities were revealed when the data was limited to Santa Clara County residents charged with a crime. The DA’s report also shows whites, Asians and Pacific Islanders are underrepresented in the data when it comes to felony and misdemeanor prosecutions.

While the study does not try to identify why these results exist, it is very important to note that the questions are being raised and asked at the District Attorney level.

Oakland Sideshow Participants Charged with Multiple Counts including Resisting Arrest (CA Penal Code 148(a)(1))

If you live in the Bay area, then you know what a ‘sideshow’ is; it’s an informal gathering of vehicle enthusiasts that includes drivers performing tricks like doing ‘doughnuts’ and participating in ‘ghost riding’ (in which the driver allows the car to remain in motion while climbing onto the roof or other parts of the vehicle).  Originating in Oakland, sideshows have been around since before the 1990s, when they gained more popularity, especially with the urban youth.

Law enforcement officials have long attempted to curb sideshow activity as they consider these exhibitions to be a danger to public safety.  In the past, pedestrians and bicyclists have been involved in fatal crashes and shootings have become a normal occurrence wherever there is sideshow activity.  Recently, in fact, a 26-year-old man (name withheld to protect the accused’s anonymity) was arrested after police spotted a sideshow in Oakland (International Boulevard and 54th).

They attempted to detain those participating, but the aforementioned young man took off, leading California Highway Patrol officers on a chase that ended when the car spun out near the Interstate (I-880).  The individual in question was placed under arrest on charges of resisting arrest (CA Penal Code 148(a)(1)) and felony evading police, among other things.  Another 19-year-old man was arrested on charges relating to speed contests, which are, of course, illegal.

California Vehicle Code 23109(a) makes participating in a speed contest illegal in the state.  According to this law, in order to be convicted of such an offense, it is necessary that prosecutors be able to prove that the contest took place on some kind of highway or public road and that the speed contest was purposeful.  Additionally, if you are a participant in a sideshow, you could be charged with exhibition of speed (CA Vehicle Code 23109) or with reckless driving (CA Vehicle Code 23103).  In any case, it is unlikely that the penalties will be harsh if you are convicted of such a crime.  Usually, they are treated as misdemeanors, though state legislators have been trying to change that for the last decade or so with new laws that would require those convicted of a violation of these laws to have their vehicles seized.


Man Arrested for Resisting Arrest During S.F. Protest (CA Penal Code 148(a)(1))

Arrests were made all across the Bay area on Friday night, mostly in conjunction with various protests against police brutality and corruption.  However, perhaps the most interesting of these arrests was that of a 36-year old man (name withheld to protect the accused, we’ll just call him “V”) who has been charged with the crime of obstructing an officer for having tripped her during the course of his brutal arrest.  He has additionally been charged with misdemeanor battery on an officer.

Many of us have seen the video footage of this very incident and it is still available for viewing online.  “V” can clearly be seen peacefully backing away from a male officer, albeit while exercising his right to free speech by screaming profanity.  As V turns away from the law enforcement official, however, he accidentally bumps him with the corner of his cellular phone.  It was just a moment, but it seemed to happen in slow motion.  Suddenly, the officer had V by the neck and was slamming him to the ground while 2 other officers assisted.  Meanwhile, other protestors, angry at this display of violence against citizens, threw a small plastic barricade at the arresting officers.  The actual ‘obstruction of an officer’ (otherwise known as ‘resisting arrest’) took place as the diminutive female officer on the scene runs to arrest those who threw the barricade (who were also arrested).  It is unclear whether V, who was still being held down by 2 officers at the time, intended to trip the female officer as he ran.

It seems more important than ever for citizens to understand what could happen to them if they are charged, rightly or wrongly, with resisting arrest (CA Penal Code 148(a)(1)).  California law defines ‘resisting arrest’ more broadly than you might guess.  In other words, you need not struggle with a police officer during an arrest to be charged with this crime.  For example, you could also ‘delay’ an officer in some way or ‘obstruct’ them in some way from going about their business.

Most interestingly, however, is that you may be charged with a felony if it can be proven that you intended to obstruct an officer in a violent manner. Furthermore, if convicted, you may face up to 1 year in state prison and pay hefty fines.