California Penal Code Section 69 - Interpretation

In People v. Smith (2013) 57 Cal.4th 232, the defendant was charged with two counts of deterring or resisting an executive officer in violation of section 69. Section 69 can be violated in two ways: first, by attempting with threats or violence to deter an officer from performing his or her duties; and second, by resisting an officer by force or violence. Section 69 provides: "Every person who attempts, by means of any threat or violence, to deter or prevent an executive officer from performing any duty imposed upon such officer by law, or who knowingly resists, by the use of force or violence, such officer, in the performance of his duty, is punishable by fine or imprisonment, or both." On each count, the jury was instructed with the second way: that it had to find that the defendant used force or violence to resist the executive officer. On count 2, the jurors were also instructed that, in the alternative, they could find the defendant guilty of violating section 69 under the first way; that is, by finding that the defendant "'willfully and unlawfully attempted to deter or prevent an executive officer from the performance of any duty imposed upon that officer by law, and the attempt was accomplished by means of a threat of violence.'" (Smith, supra, at p. 238.)