We often “Resisting an Executive Officer” (Penal Code § 69), also known as “Resisting Arrest,” as a trumped-up charge, meant to spite a defendant who was so audacious as to question the perhaps unclear authority of a police officer.
One of our clients claimed that because he failed to call the officer “sir,” after the officer demanded this, that he was kicked by the officer. In response to being kicked, in self-defense, he pushed the officer away and was promptly arrested for violating Penal Code § 69. In another situation, an officer asked our client to sign a ticket and as the client was reaching for the pen, the officer threw it to the ground playfully, saying “Pick it up, slave.” Our client commented, “man, that is not right” and was immediately arrested for resisting arrest. It is therefore helpful to understand this charge fully.
Penal Code § 69 breaks up “resisting an executive officer” into two definitions, each of which can be charged as a felony. First, it is defined as “willfully and unlawfully attempting by threats or violence to deter or prevent an executive officer from performing a lawful duty. “Willfully” means you do something on purpose. An “executive officer” is defined as a police officer, fireman, paramedic or any public employee charged with enforcing the law. This can include a judge and a district attorney.
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