California Penal Code Section 69 PC: Resisting An Executive Officer

resisting arrest

1. Definition and Elements of the Crime

Resisting an Executive Officer under California Penal Code Section 69 PC actually covers two different offenses:

  1. Trying to prevent an executive officer from performing his or her duties and
  2. Resisting an executive officer who is performing his or her duties.

In broad terms, the first offense typically applies to preventing an officer from arresting someone else, while the second involves resisting one’s own arrest.

To establish the first offense, trying to prevent an officer from performing their duties, a prosecutor must establish that:

  1. A person unlawfully used violence or threats to prevent an executive officer from performing a lawful duty AND
  2. This person did so intentionally.

The second offense, resisting an executive officer, requires a showing that:

  1. A person used force to resist an officer
  2. The officer was performing a lawful action at the time AND
  3. The person knew that the officer was performing a lawful duty.

Executive officers can include police officers, judges, commissioners and prosecutors.

2. Examples

In a hypothetical situation, a drunk man is walking in the middle of a public street and is aggressively trying to start fights with each person he encounters. A police officer approaches this man and attempts to arrest this man for Drunk in Public pursuant to California Penal Code Section 647(f) PC. The man’s friend sees this, and physically attempts to prevent the officer from performing the arrest by putting the officer in an arm lock. The friend would be guilty of Preventing an Executive Officer from Performing a Lawful Duty under California Penal Code Section 69 PC.

In the same scenario, if the drunk man begins to violently fight and threaten the officer who was lawfully attempting to arrest him, he also could be charged under California Penal Code Section 69 PC for Resisting an Executive Officer.

3. Related Offenses

Resisting an Executive Officer is considered a more serious version of Resisting Arrest under California Penal Code Section 148 PC. Resisting an Executive Officer may be a felony while Resisting Arrest under Penal Code Section 148 PC is always a misdemeanor. The difference is typically the degree of force and violence used to resist the officer.

Other related charges include Battery on a Peace Officer pursuant to California Penal Code Section 243(b) PC, Evading an Officer under California Vehicle Code Section 2800.1 VC and Felony Reckless Evading under California Vehicle Code Section 2800.2 VC.

4. Defenses to Resisting an Executive Officer

It is against the law to resist an executive officer who is lawfully performing his or her duties. However, if an officer commits unlawful conduct, such as using excessive force in making an arrest, there may be a valid Self-Defense claim. That means that if an officer who is performing an arrest of a person who is not resisting suddenly starts to viciously beat this person, the person would be entitled to use reasonable force to protect himself. This is because the officer is no longer acting lawfully within the scope of his duties. However, someone in this situation should act carefully, as it is never a good idea to use any force against an officer executing an arrest.

5. Penalties

Resisting an Executive Officer is a “wobbler” offense. This means that prosecutors can charge it as a felony or misdemeanor depending on several factors, such as the circumstances of the incident, the degree of force used, and the criminal history of the defendant.

Penalties include up to a year in jail for a misdemeanor and up to three years in prison for a felony, in addition to substantial court fines and victim restitution.

6. Criminal Defense for Resisting an Executive Officer Cases

If you or a love one have been accused of Resisting an Executive Officer, it is critical that you consult with a Los Angeles Criminal Defense Attorney immediately. This can potentially be a serious felony and the early assistance of an experienced defense attorney can make the difference in the ultimate outcome of your case. Los Angeles Criminal Defense Attorney Michael Kraut is a former Deputy District Attorney with over 14 years of prosecutorial experience who is highly respected throughout the court system as a knowledgeable and passionate advocate for his clients. In many instances Mr. Kraut is able to intervene before charges have been filed in order to have charges significantly reduced or even rejected outright.

For more information about Resisting an Executive Officer, and to schedule your free consultation, contact Los Angeles Criminal Defense Attorney Michael Kraut at the Kraut Law Group located at 6255 Sunset Boulevard, Suite 1520, Los Angeles, CA 90028. Mr. Kraut can be reached 24/7 at 888-334-6344 or 323-464-6453.

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