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Name: People v. Rasmussen
Case #: A125942
Court: CA Court of Appeal
District 1 DCA
Division: 5
Opinion Date: 11/09/2010

Penal Code section 69 describes two types of offenses each of which has separate intents, and the trial court need instruct only on the one applicable to the offense on which the prosecutor relies. After appellant became agitated at a bank and threatened bank employees, the police were called. When they attempted to detain appellant, who is an amputee, he struggled by swinging his crutch at them and cursing them. The officers eventually were able to subdue him by using a taser and pepper spray against appellant. A jury convicted appellant of Penal Code section 69 and assorted misdemeanors. On appeal, he contended that the trial court erred by instructing that section 69 is a general intent crime, but the appellate court disagreed. Section 69 can be violated in two ways: (1) by attempting by threats or violence to deter or prevent an officer from performing a duty imposed by law; or (2) by resisting with force or violence an officer in the performance of his or her duty. The former offense is a specific intent crime, whereas the latter is a general intent crime requiring the defendant merely to intend the proscribed act. The mental state required depends upon the theory under which the prosecution proceeds. Here, because the prosecutor elected to rely on the second type of offense, the court was required to instruct on general intent only. The second type of section 69 has similarities to Penal Code section 148, subdivision (a)(1). But he crimes are also significantly different in that section 148, subdivision (a)(1) can be violated without force or violence and section 69 cannot. Additionally, section 69 requires that the defendant knew the officer was performing his duty, while 148, subdivision (a)(1) requires that the defendant knew or reasonably should have known of the officer’s role.