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Resisting an Executive Officer
PC 69(a) Law & Defense

The law on the crime of Resisting or Deterring an Executive Officer is found at California penal code section 69(a). An executive officer includes police officers, judges, district attorneys, public defenders, sheriff deputies, and more.

The Law

Every person who attempts, by means of any threat or violence, to deter or prevent an executive officer from performing any duty imposed upon the officer by law, or who knowingly resists, by the use of force or violence, the officer, in the performance of his or her duty, is guilty of resisting or deterring an executive officer (PC 69(a) Abbrev.).

The fact that a person takes a photograph or makes an audio or video recording of an executive officer, while the officer is in a public place or the person taking the photograph or making the recording is in a place he or she has the right to be, does not constitute, in and of itself, a violation of subdivision PC 69(a).

To prove that the defendant is guilty of the crime of resisting or deterring an officer charged as PC 69, the district attorney must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant intentionally used violence, or threats of violence, to try to prevent or deter an executive officer from performing the officer's lawful duty.

A threat may be oral or written, but it may also be implied by the conduct of the defendant or a combination any oral or written threat in conjunction with the defendant's conduct. A threat to an executive officer does not have to be communicated by the defendant himself or herself; the threat may be communicated by a third person who is communicating the threat to the executive officer for the defendant (PC 69)


For an executive officer to be performing his or her lawful duty he or she must not use unreasonable force to detain the defendant under the circumstances. In other words, if force used by the executive officer is excessive and unreasonable under the circumstances the defendant may use force to resist the executive officer.

Punishment for PC 69

The crime of resisting or deterring an executive officer may be filed as a misdemeanor (PC69(a)-M), or as a felony (PC69(a)-F).

Jail: If the defendant is found guilty of misdemeanor PC 69,the defendant may face up to one year in the county jail. If the defendant is found guilty of felony PC 69, the defendant may face up to three years in jail. Whether or not the district attorney files misdemeanor or felony charges or resisting arrest depends largely on the facts surrounding the offense and the criminal history of the defendant.

Probation Sentence: Probation is available in PC 69 cases. Probation sentences may be served with or without jail as a condition of probation; however, a jail sentence that is ordered as a condition of probation may be served on electronic monitoring (house arrest) or work release.

PC 1170(h) Sentence: If the defendant is not granted a probation sentence after a conviction for PC 69(a), then the defendant will be ordered to county jail (as opposed to a state prison). This is true even if the defendant is found guilty of a felony. In addition, jail sentences related to a PC 69(a) may be split (served partially out of jail on work release), or suspended (not served unless and until the defendant violates a term of his or her out of custody sentence).

Three Strikes Law: Resisting or deterring an executive officer is not considered a strike offense under California's Three Strikes Sentencing Law.

CIMT: PC 69(a) is not considered a crime involving moral turpitude.

Bail: $50,000 in San Bernardino County (2020).

In addition to any actual jail or prison time, if found guilty of resisting or deterring an executive officer, the defendant may face collateral punishments, including: fines up to $10,000, immigration and professional licensing consequences,, restitution to victims, criminal protective orders, restrictive probation or parole terms, anger management classes ordered, civil lawsuits, and more.

Defense to PC 69(a)

Defenses to a charge of resisting or deterring an executive officer charged as PC 69 include: lack of intent to commit the criminal offense, self-defense, defense of others, insanity, resisting unreasonable force used by officers, insufficient evidence, mistake of fact as to the identity of the officers, statute of limitations, intoxication, insanity, and more.

If you or a loved one is charged with resisting or deterring an executive officer, or California penal code 69(a), contact our criminal defense attorneys today for a free consultation. Our criminal defense team dedicates one hundred percent of their practice to criminal defense and our office is open seven days a week to answer all of your questions. Call today!


Quick Legal Reference​

Crime: Resisting an Executive Officer

Code: PC 69(a) (CalCrim No. 2651 & 2652)

Wobbler: Yes. PC 69(a) is a wobbler crime. This means that PC 69(a) may be charged as a felony or as a misdemeanor.


Incarceration:Felony PC 69(a) jail sentence range: 16 months, 2 or 3 years. Misdemeanor jail sentence up to 1 year.

Probation: Probation is allowed in felony and misdemeanor PC 69(a) cases (assuming other crimes or enhancements that bar a probation sentence are not present). Whether or not a probation sentence is offered by the District Attorney, or granted by the court, depends on several factors, including the defendant's criminal history and the facts of the case.​

Work Release or House Arrest: In some cases, a probation sentence can include actual in-custody county jail, house arrest (electronic monitoring), or work release (or some combination of these penalties); however, most in-custody jail sentence orders that are required as a terms of probation are much shorter than the maximum jail sentence.

PC 1170(h)): Yes. PC 69(a) is subject to PC 1170(h) sentencing. This means that any jail or prison sentence may be:

  • Split (half in-custody / half out-of-custody)

  • Suspended (possibly never served)

  • Served in county jail (not state prison)

  • Note: Limitations may apply

Strike: PC 69(a) is not a strike offense listed in California's Three Strikes law.

Credits: 50% good conduct credits available.

CIMT: PC 69(a) is not a crime involving moral turpitude.


Firearms: Felony PC 69(a) convictions prohibit a defendant from owning or possessing a firearm.​​

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