By now, you’ve likely heard about the 2 men who allegedly stole a Chronicle van from S.F. Castro district and led police on a lengthy chase before any arrests were made. Although there were 2 arrests made, only 1 man has been charged with several other, and varied crimes, including: 2 counts charges of grand theft (CA Penal Code 487) (theft of a vehicle), 1 count of resisting arrest, 4 counts of assault on an officer and possessing tools that are commonly used in burglaries.
‘Resisting arrest’ is actually a rather vague and large category in California law. This is because ‘resisting’ an officer may actually mean that you participated in a number of different activities, such as obstructing or preventing an officer from doing their duty, somehow delaying an officer in the course of their duties, and (of course) actually resisting when an officer attempts to take you into custody. These regulations also apply, not only to police officers, but also to EMTs (emergency medical technicians) as they are going about their regular business.
This particular crime is a California misdemeanor (see CA Penal Code 148(a)(1)) and may only end in a maximum penalty of 1 year in county jail and a $1,000 fine. Two things are important to remember, however, when dealing with charges such as these. First, the behavior that constitutes ‘resisting arrest’ could be as simple as preventing an officer of the law from speaking to a witness, purposefully or not; in other words, the legal definitions involved here are, to reiterate, quite vague. Second, though the penalties for resisting arrest may seem minor, such an infraction on your record could make your life very difficult in the years to come, even at a simple traffic stop, because law enforcement agents may treat you differently because of the nature of this particular violation of the law.