Facing an arrest is a terrifying experience, especially if you are caught by surprise. You may have dozens of thoughts and questions running through your brain as the officer places you in handcuffs and then dictates your rights.

This can be a very scary and confusing time, and you might try to resist the arrest as a way to defend yourself – especially if you fear police violence. But resisting an arrest can lead to strong penalties for California residents.

The penalties of resisting an arrest

Under California law, it is a criminal offense to resist, delay or obstruct an arrest from a law enforcement officer. It also applies to any emergency technicians that may try to perform their lawful duties that were affected due to the resisting arrest.

There are penalties to face no matter what the arrest pertained to, but the severity of the crime does affect the consequences for resisting arrest.

For misdemeanor arrests, you may face a year in county jail and/or $1,000 fine. It’s a hefty price to pay considering that you may have even peacefully tried to resist the arrest. For example, by leaving the scene or refusing to comply with the officer’s orders.

For felony arrests, you can be sentenced anywhere between two through four years in a state prison. You can also face another three years of prison time if you are convicted of a Great Bodily Injury (GBI), which is an enhancement that states you committed great bodily injury on any person in the commission of the felony.

Any penalty sounds intimidating to the person facing the charges, so it’s incredibly important to find evidence of either inappropriate actions on the officer’s part or any reason why your resist could be justified. It takes time and effort to ensure you have the best argument for your actions and protect your future at all costs.