We get several calls a week regarding “obstruction of justice” charges, ca penal code 148. Here is what the Penal Code says:
Every person who willfully resists, delays, or obstructs any public officer, peace officer, or an emergency medical technician while they are attempting to perform their duties. (More info here). In normal people speech, this means that any person who willfully resists, delays, or obstructs the work of a public officer, police officer, or EMT is guilty of violating ca penal code 148.
The penalty is a misdemeanor punished by up to one year in county jail and/or a maximum of a one thousand dollar fine. Not only is that punishment pretty severe, but imagine what it does to your record. Every time you get pulled over after that, the officer will see you were charged with obstruction of justice, and be that much more careful and cautious. Kiss your chances of getting a break from the officer goodbye.
In order to better understand the crime, and what to do to avoid being charged with violating ca penal code 148, we can break down the elements:
WILLFULLY: this means that you committed the act on purpose. You don’t have to intend the consequences of the action, but the act itself must be intentional.
RESIST, DELAY, or OBSTRUCT: many people see this and automatically think of physical acts of resistance. However, there are less obvious acts such as giving a false name to a police officer or ignoring a police officer.
ENGAGED IN PERFORMING THEIR DUTIES: This consists of any actions associated with their job. Examples include making lawful arrests, responding to the scene of an accident, detaining someone for questioning.
Additionally, you have to have known, or should have known, that the officer or EMT was performing their duties. This is why they wear uniforms and have marked vehicles.
An obstruction of justice charge is a big deal. If you find yourself charged with violating ca penal code 148, give our offices a call at 800-797-8406. We can help.