Fleeing and Attempting to Elude a Law Enforcement Officer
To understand the charge of fleeing and attempting to elude, we need to talk about what's happening out there with my clients. I had a client who decided to dress up his Mustang for Halloween. He had red & blue police lights, he had the badges and graphics on each side. He then dressed up as a cop and pulled over a woman and kidnapped her. He let her go after just 5 minutes of being cuffed, even the fake-arrested woman thought it was odd that she was put in the passenger seat of a mustang--but the point of all this is, you never really know who's pulling you over.
And, it is those few seconds where you're wondering if this is real, or if they're after the person in front of me (that's what I always hope, right?), its that sort of delay that can get you in trouble.
The point is, this crime happens when an impatient officer feels as though you're not pulling over as soon as the officer thinks you should. Really, this charge is just a trumped up resisting an officer without violence, if you're familiar with that crime.
This is serious stuff, the most basic fleeing charge is a felony that carries a maximum of five years in prison, but it doesn't take much to have the charge upgraded to a second degree felony where the prison time runs up to 15 years. If someone is injured during the fleeing incident, the charge carries a minimum mandatory 3 years in prison, no gain time, and the government is entitled to seize the car used to flee. And, every fleeing conviction comes with a minimum one year driver's license suspension, but the judge can go up to five years on this.
The good news is, there are plenty of defenses to a fleeing charge. I find that when I read an arrest report for a fleeing charge, it always sounds worse than what actually happened, so I'll always pull the body cam, dash cam, and traffic cams on these cases to show what really happened.
Also, we defense attorneys are going to be checking to see if the cop car had the proper agency insignia and jurisdictional markings on it to make this crime stick.
For example, in the case of Slack v. State, Slack was convicted of fleeing and attempting to elude because the officer testified that he was driving a "marked patrol car with lights on top." The appeals court threw out Slack's conviction, holding that just having a "marked car" isn't enough. To convict for fleeing, you've got to prove that there is first, an agency insignia on the car and, second, that there are jurisdictional markings displayed on the vehicle. Slack's cop only testified as to the insignia, not the jurisdictional marking. So, fleeing case dismissed. So, there's lots of technicalities here, and there is hope. Good luck on your case, and thanks for watching.