Law enforcement officers are given the authority to issue orders to citizens to execute their duties. For example, you are expected to follow lawful orders if pulled over at a traffic stop for a suspected driving violation.
Perhaps their orders are necessary for public safety or to maintain regular order during an emergency. You could face criminal charges if you fail to follow a police officer's orders.
California Vehicle Code 2800 VC makes it a crime to willfully refuse or fail to comply with a lawful order or direction given by a peace officer. A conviction under this law could result in a fine and up to six months in county jail.
To prove an alleged perpetrator is guilty of violating VC 2800, it must be proven that you deliberately refused or failed to comply with a lawful order, signal, or direction of any uniformed California law enforcement performing their regular legal duties.
Vehicle Code 2800(b)(1) VC says it's unlawful to ignore a lawfully issued “out-of-service” order for vehicles deemed unsafe to operate or not adequately equipped, which is usually issued by the California Highway Patrol. Let's review this law closer below.
What is Considered Disobeying a Police Officer?
Under VC 2800, it's a crime to fail or refuse to comply with an order, signal, or direction given by police, if:
- the police officer is clearly in uniform; and
- they give the order while performing their duties.
If you refuse to obey their direction or order, you could be charged with a misdemeanor offense and other violations.
As mentioned above, it's also a crime under VC 2800 to operate a vehicle in violation of an "out-of-service" order issued by a CHP officer, which means the car is unsafe to drive.
VC 2800 disobeying a peace officer is a misdemeanor. If convicted, you face a fine of up to $1,000 and six months in county jail. Operating an out-of-service vehicle includes a citation and fine. Typically, judges will impose summary probation rather than jail time.
What Are Some Examples?
- Refusal get out of the vehicle car at the officer's request;
- Failure to pull over when signaled, such as hand signals and emergency lights, siren sounds, etc.,
- Refusal to give the police officer your license, registration, and proof of insurance when asked during a traffic stop,
- Driving around a police barrier,
- Ignoring directions from a police officer who is directing traffic,
- Operating a vehicle that violates an out-of-service order.
What are the Related Crimes?
- Resisting arrest under Penal Code 148a PC is willfully resisting, delaying, or obstructing an officer from performing their duties and also applies to EMTs and other emergency health officials.
- Evading a police officer under Vehicle Code 2800.1 VC is willfully attempting to evade, elude, or flee from law enforcement in pursuit.
- Felony reckless evading under Vehicle Code 2800.2 VC is willfully attempting to evade law enforcement while engaging in reckless driving with a disregard for the safety of people.
- Unauthorized entry into a closed emergency area under Penal Code 409.5 PC willingly enters an area cordoned off by police for safety reasons.
- Refusal to disperse under Penal Code 409 and 416 PC ignores law enforcement's orders to disperse when people assemble unlawfully, such as to disturb the peace or riot.
What are the Legal Defenses?
A good attorney could use some possible legal defenses to VC 2800 to challenge the charges. Let's discuss them below.
Perhaps we can argue that you were not willfully disobeying. Maybe your reaction was not rebellion against the police officer, but rather some other reason. Maybe you misunderstood their directions, misread hand signals, or did not hear the given order.
Perhaps the police officer was not in uniform. Maybe it was not clear by the officer's dress; they were on duty and had no authority to give the order. Perhaps you did not realize the police officer was speaking to you.
Perhaps the police officer was off-duty. Under the statute, you are only required to obey a police officer's direction in the regular performance of their duties.
Perhaps we can argue that you disobeyed the order out of necessity. Maybe you had a valid reason for ignoring the officer's order, such as a life-threatening health emergency.
If you were charged with disobeying police, defined under Vehicle Code 2800 VC, you need to contact our law firm to review the details and discuss the legal options. Negotiating with the prosecutor for reduced charges or a case dismissal might be possible.
Cron, Israels & Stark is located in Los Angeles, California. You can contact us for a free case evaluation by phone or use the contact form.