Under California's Vehicle Code Section 2800.1, it is illegal to evade a law enforcement officer who is pursuing you as part of their legitimate duties. The vehicle used by the police officer is irrelevant as long as the accused individual chose to evade it.
Section 2800.2 considers evading an officer a felony if combined with reckless driving, which may cause an accident and possibly bodily harm and even death to another person.
If you fail to refuse to obey when a police or other law enforcement officer pulls you over or attempts to apprehend you, you can face criminal charges for evading. This type of criminal offense may be a misdemeanor or a felony depending on your specific circumstances.
What Elements Must the Prosecution Establish to Convict You of Evading a Police Officer?
To convict someone of evading a law enforcement officer in California, the prosecution must establish multiple elements that concern both the individual facing charges and the police officer they allegedly evaded.
Two key elements that the prosecution must prove beyond a reasonable doubt are that the person willfully fled or attempted to flee and that they intended to evade the law enforcement officer. The prosecution must establish that your whole purpose in fleeing was to disobey the police officer’s orders. The court must also prove that you intended to break the law.
The prosecution must demonstrate that the officer’s vehicle met the requirements featured in Vehicle Code Section 28100.1:
- The front of the vehicle had at least one red light on
- The officer used at least one siren
- The vehicle features official markings such as the seal or name of the police department
The Vehicle Code in California also requires that the law enforcement officer wears a “distinctive uniform,” although it does not necessarily mean a full uniform. What matters is that the law enforcement had a recognizable outfit such as an official vest.
What Penalties Can a Conviction for Evading a Police Officer Result In?
Charges of evading a police officer can result in a misdemeanor or felony conviction in California. Aggravating factors may increase your penalties.
A misdemeanor conviction for evading a police officer in California can involve:
- Up to one year in county jail
- Up to $1,000 in fines
- Impoundment of your vehicle for up to 30 days
- Summary probation
- A suspension of your driver's license
A felony conviction can involve six to twelve months in county jail and up to $10,000 in fines. You may also receive a sentence of 16, 24, or 36 months in state prison.
Whether you face additional charges due to aggravating factors like reckless driving or DUI manslaughter, a conviction on your criminal record can negatively affect your reputation. It may also prevent you from pursuing certain educational or professional opportunities and limit your housing or financial options.
Always Hire a Criminal Defense Attorney to Protect Your Future
If you face charges of evading a police officer, you should hire a reputable criminal defense lawyer as soon as possible. Having professional representation can help you secure a dismissal or reduction of charges.
Working with an attorney is especially important if your accusations involve aggravating factors like causing severe bodily injury or the death of another individual. Such aggravating factors could lead to manslaughter or DUI murder charges, which may call for a prison sentence of many years in California.
Although your attorney typically aims to obtain a dismissal of the charges against you, they may recommend a plea bargain when this is not a viable option, but a plea bargain may lead to reduced charges and penalties.
Common defense strategies against charges of evading a law enforcement officer include:
- An emergency required you to rush to the hospital
- Concern that the police officer was an imposter, including being pursued by a car that had no clear signs of being a law enforcement vehicle
- Driving under the influence and not intentionally evading the police office
- Seeking a safe spot to pull over on the side of the road
At The Law Office of Nabiel C. Ahmed, we have over 10 years of experience providing personalized representation to clients. We have a successful track record of helping clients obtain a dismissal or reduction of charges for a wide selection of criminal offenses, including evading a police officer. We offer flexible payment plans to help you get the legal services you deserve, and our staff members speak Spanish for your convenience.
Are you facing charges of evading a police officer in Oakland or the East Bay area? Contact The Law Office of Nabiel C. Ahmed today at (510) 907-6600 to schedule a free case evaluation.