It is quite difficult to outrun the police. In fact, if you are caught you can be charged with either a misdemeanor evading, (Vehicle Code 2800.1) or Vehicle Code 2800.2 VC felony reckless evading.
Misdemeanor evading takes place when you evade or flee from an officer who is pursuing you either in a marked motor vehicle (which includes police cars and motorcycles), or even on a bike!
To convict you, the prosecutor must prove the following elements:
- that while you were driving, you willfully fled or otherwise attempted to elude a peace officer,
- you did so with the specific intent to evade that officer,
- the officer's vehicle exhibited at least one lit red lamp that was visible from the front,
- you saw or reasonably should have seen the lit lamp,
- the officer sounded his/her siren as reasonably necessary,
- the officer's vehicle was distinctively marked, and
- the officer who was driving was wearing a distinctive uniform.
In other words, if the District Attorney can show that you knew about the “cherry top” in your rear view mirror, and you attempted to flee, you are going to get convicted. So you need a good attorney to get you a “plea bargain”. Unless you can show that you never knew you were being followed, etc. and that you did not attempt to “lose” the officer.
Of course, if we can show that the car was unmarked, the “cherry top” was not activated, or you just did not notice the police, you will prevail.
If you didn't “willfully” evade the peace officer, you aren't guilty. Maybe you were so distracted that you didn't realize you were being followed. Perhaps you were scared to pull over because you were alone in the car or it was late at night, you were in a scary neighborhood, etc. Or maybe someone else was in your car forcing you to keep driving away from the officers.
Under any of these scenarios, your act of evading was not willful and, as a result, you should not be convicted of the charge.
Similarly, if you don't specifically “intend” to evade the police officer, you don’t violate this law. For example, if you are either voluntarily or involuntarily intoxicated, you may be unable to form the specific intent to commit a crime.
If your lawyer can prove that you were so intoxicated that you didn't intend to flee the officer(s), or didn't even realize they were pursuing you, you should be acquitted of this charge. However, you may face DUI charges for the incident.
- Insufficient evidence
If your lawyer can disprove that:
- the officer displayed a red light,
- that the officer was in a distinctive uniform,
- that the officer was not in a marked car.
then you aren't guilty.
If convicted of violating Vehicle Code 2800.1 VC California's “evading a police officer” law, you face up to one year in a county jail and a maximum $1,000 fine.
The police and the prosecutors strongly pursue these cases since they like to protect their own.
If the District Attorney can prove all of the elements required under Vehicle Code 2800.1 VC and can also prove that you drove with “willful and wanton disregard for the safety of others”, you face a conviction for Vehicle Code 2800.2 VC California's “felony reckless evading an officer” law.
However, if you are evading an officer and you cause serious bodily injury or death to another person, you face prosecution under Vehicle Code 2800.3 VC.
VC 2800.3 carries a three to ten-year California state prison sentence. These facts may also trigger the D.A. to file a vehicular manslaughter case or, if you were intoxicated, possible DUI murder (“Watson”) charges.
When the D.A. has a strong case, we can try to negotiate a plea bargain or alternative such as disturbing the peace or fighting in public. Call us now and speak to an attorney for free!