Even though it may seem like a minor crime, evading an officer in a vehicle can actually be a fairly serious crime and bring with it some serious punishments. Even a non-driver can be accused of and convicted for this crime, if they urge the driver to flee the police, so it is obvious that the police takes road safety and their authority seriously.
There are many different things you can do which can be interpreted as ‘evading an officer’, but the most common ones are refusing to stop even when you are signaled and told to and only stopping after a prolonged pursuit. So, what can you do if you are charged with this crime? Well, the first thing you want is to get a really good criminal attorney and tell them everything about the case. Charged with Evading an Officer
Is Fleeing Police Always a Crime
As a matter of fact, not all instances of fleeing an officer are deemed a crime. Some people have a problem driving near the police for one reason or the other. Those people may choose to drive away or suddenly change the direction they were headed just because of the police.
However, in order to be admissible in court, the prosecution needs to be able to confirm that you in fact knew that the officer was expecting you to stop and you willfully ignored their request.
Is It Always a Separate Crime?
If there are other charges against you, you may wonder whether evading an officer will be added to this. That depends on the state. Some states choose to incorporate this act into some other criminal acts, like obstruction of justice, or resisting arrest.
On the other hand, some other states, like California, prefer to keep these acts separate because it is more accurate and it helps avoid confusion.
How Can You Be Commanded to Stop
In the majority of the USA, you cannot use the loophole that you did not hear the oral command by the officer to stop. Most states recognize different and universal signals to stop. The most common ones police officers use are hand gestures, or even just pointing out the badge.
When they are in the police vehicle, police officers can also use non-verbal commands, most commonly the well-known flashing lights and sirens police cars are so distinctive for.
What Kinds of Penalties Can You Expect If You Are Convicted?
In California, this crime can be classified either as a misdemeanor or a felony. However, they can both be enhanced and bear a much more severe punishment if there are other similar charges laid against you. A particularly severe case of enhancement can occur if there has been some kind of serious injury during your flight.
A misdemeanor evading a police officer is only applied to cases when there is no damage or any danger to other participants in traffic and the police officer. In that case, a person who is convicted of evading an officer will likely not receive any jail time.
On the other hand, if the act is characterized as a felony, jail time is mandatory, although there is no set period how long your jail sentence should be. If somebody was hurt during your run, or you are deemed a danger to the community, the sentence is typically mandatory jail time prior to a chance of probation release.
In any case, you will need a skilled and dedicated criminal attorney to fight for your rights at court.