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Arrested for resisting arrest?

Posted: Friday, Jul 27th, 2012

ATASCADERO — In a recent Red Light Roundup, the Atascadero News reported that an Atascadero Police officer arrested a fellow on suspicion of resisting arrest. The arrestee was released on-site.

So what was the point?

Atascadero Police Chief Jerel Haley said that what’s reflected in the public police log isn’t the whole story.

“The charge you’re talking about is section 148 of the penal code, which is not just simply resisting arrest, though that’s what it’s most frequently known for,” Haley said.

In fact, the complete name of code 148 is, “Resisting Delaying or Obstructing Officer,” and the first and largest portion of the code reads as follows:

“Every person who willfully resists, delays, or obstructs any public officer, peace officer, or an emergency medical technician … in the discharge or attempt to discharge any duty of his or her office or employment, when no other punishment is prescribed, shall be punished by a fine not exceeding $1,000, or by imprisonment in a county jail not to exceed one year, or by both that fine and imprisonment.”

The most obvious circumstance in which a “resisting arrest” charge is filed, Haley said, is when an officer tries to arrest somebody and the arrestee runs.

But it’s not limited to that. Because the code includes delaying or obstructing an officer, a person could be arrested if he or she were running interference when an officer tried to arrest a friend.

But most of the time, Haley said, when somebody is arrested for resisting arrest and then gets released on-site, the arrestee could have avoided the whole thing.

Haley gave the hypothetical ex ample of cars being broken into in a parking lot. When an officer goes to investigate, if that officer sees a man loitering and wants to talk to him, but the man runs, he’s very likely going to be arrested for resisting arrest — even if he has no warrants, didn’t break into the cars and there’s nothing else to charge him with.

A similar case could happen with jaywalking. No officer would arrest a person for jaywalking, but if you ran from an officer who was going to cite you, you could well be arrested for resisting arrest.

Lastly, Haley said, are issues of public safety. An officer may believe that the public should stay at least 100 feet away from a burning apartment, for example.

“There are people who feel the need to refuse that order and continue to press onto the scene,” Haley said. “They could be arrested for resisting, delaying or obstructing a police officer in their duties, in this case, keeping the public safe from a fire.”

In the future, Red Light Roundup items will reflect this newfound knowledge.

For the complete article see the 07-27-2012 issue.

Click here to purchase an electronic version of the 07-27-2012 paper.

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