A Los Angeles County District Attorney Charge Evaluation Worksheet breaks down why the DA will not be filing misdemeanor felony charges under Section 148(A)(1) against Annie Jump Vicente, a transgender woman who was arrested for not allowing West Hollywood Sheriff Deputies into her building while they were responding to a domestic violence call on December 7, 2022. Section 148 is described as resisting arrest as any criminal conduct that resists, delays, or obstructs any peace officer in the course of their official duties. Penal Code 148 PC makes it a crime to willfully resist a police officer while performing their duties, and is punishable by up to a year in jail and a fine of up to $1,000.
According to the report, on December 7, 2022, deputies responded to a domestic violence call at an apartment located within a secured apartment building. Deputies had responded to five prior domestic violence-related calls at the same apartment since September 2022. A review of investigative reports and body worn video (BWV) reflect that as deputies were attempting to enter the building, Annie Jump Vicente, 31, approached. Vicente was immediately critical of the deputies-how they had handled previous calls- and directed profanity-laced and insulting comments at them. Deputies attempted to get Vicente to open the secured front door to the building. (Entry required using a keypad entry to unlock the door.) During this interaction, a deputy referred to Vicente as, “sir,” misgendering Vicente and thereby offending Vicente. At that point, Vicente clearly indicated that she was declining to provide deputies access to the building.
Once Vicente opened the door, deputies forced their way in as Vicente attempted to hold onto the door and door frame-blocking the deputies from entering. Deputies removed Vicente from the doorway and took her into custody. (the domestic violence call was followed up on by other deputies.)
The evaluation concludes that although the elements of a section 148(a) violation may be established by the facts that deputies were lawfully responding to a DV call, and Vicente was aware and prevented entry, Vicente’s conduct was subject to protections under establish authority:
- Abusive language directed towards law enforcement cannot be the basis of a violation of section 148(a). (See, In re Muhammed C (2002) 95 CalApp4th 1325, 1330-1331.)
- A private person’s refusal to unlock a door does not constitute “interference” with a government official’s performance of duties. (See. District of Columbia v. Little (1950) 339 U.S. 1. 5-6).
- Under Fourth Amendment protections, occupants of a residence have a right to refuse entry to law enforcement who do not have a warrant. (Kentucky v. King (2011) 563 U.S. 452, 469-470.)
The DA establishes that under the authority set forth above, neither Vicente’s abusive language, nor her refusal to unlock the front door can be the basis of a violation of section 148(a) and refers to the California Supreme Court’s decision in People v. Wetzel (1974) 11 Cal.3d 104, to provide Vicente with a defense. Wetzel was convicted of a violation of section 148(a) when she refused to grant officers permission to enter her apartment-officers were in “hot pursuit” of a fleeing burglary suspect. Officers arrested Wetzel for violating section 148(a) after she stood blocking the doorway of her apartment as they attempted to enter. The California Supreme Court reversed Wetzel’s conviction, holding:
“We conclude accordingly, and as a matter of law, that defendant’s total conduct cannot be characterized other than a refusal to consent to a request to enter her apartment. Such conduct cannot constitute grounds for a lawful arrest or subsequent search and seizure..
[Refusal to stand aside and permit a requested entry, even when officers… had a right to force an entry… cannot constitute a violation of section 148.”
In light of Wetzel, even though the deputies were acting under the exigency of investigating a domestic violence call and, as such, had the authority to remove Vicente from the doorway, detain her for their safety, and enter the building, establishing a violation of section 148 would be highly problematic. In BWV, Vicente verbally declined to allow deputies to enter and, as she opened the door, appeared to be holding onto the door and door jamb-behavior consistent with her refusal to consent to entry by the deputies-as deputies removed her from the doorway and detained her. In other words, Vicente’s total conduct could reasonably be viewed as behavior that constituted a refusal to consent to the entry and therefore conduct that cannot provide the basis for a violation of section 148(a). Accordingly, on the evidence presented, a violation of section 148(a) cannot be established beyond a reasonable doubt.
Vicente, who is a former employee of Los Angeles City Councilmember Mike Bonin’s office, alleges she sustained injuries during her arrest and showed up to a protest in West Hollywood wearing a neckbrace (the neckbrace was noticeably worn backwards). She and activists for trans rights and equal housing took their protests before the West Hollywood City Council where they aired their grievances against police brutality and asked for the firing the Sheriff deputies who arrested her.