Evading a police officer is a crime that can be charged when someone intentionally flees to escape a law enforcement officer who was pursuing them. Fleeing from a police officer does not need to occur immediately. You could attract these charges if you stopped for a while and later fled before the officer was done speaking. Evading a police officer is charged under California VC 2800.1, and a conviction attracts serious legal consequences, including jail time, fines, and loss of your commercial driver's license.
While VC 2800.1 criminalizes evading a police officer while driving a vehicle, evading an officer on foot could attract other charges. If you or your loved one faces an arrest and criminal charges for eluding a police officer, you will require the guidance of a knowledgeable criminal lawyer. At California Criminal Lawyer Group, we offer the legal guidance and representation to fight these charges and avoid a conviction. We serve clients facing criminal charges in Anaheim, CA.
Overview of Evading a Police Officer in California
Criminal charges for evading a police officer arise when you flee or attempt to flee from a law enforcement officer in your pursuit. Eluding a police officer is an offense charged under California VC 2800.1 and is a misdemeanor offense. If the prosecutor files charges against you in court, they must prove the following elements to secure a conviction against you:
- A law enforcement officer was in your pursuit. The prosecution must show that the officer was either on a police motorcycle or patrol car to prove this element.
- You intentionally attempted to flee. Since evading an officer is a crime of specific intent, it must be clear that you intended to commit the crime of fleeing, and you did it. You could not be guilty under this statute if you sped away for other reasons than disobeying the officer's orders.
- The officer's vehicle was distinctively marked. Under CVC 2800.1, there are specific requirements that the vehicle used to pursue you should have. This ensures that you could have easily recognized it as a police vehicle. When the officer stopped you, the police vehicle must have had a red lamp or sounded a siren. Alternatively, the patrol car or motorcycle should have been marked with flashing headlights which could be visible.
- The officer's uniform was distinct. Before you face a conviction for this crime, the prosecution must prove that the officer who pursued you was in uniform, differentiating them from other public members. However, it is crucial to understand that the officer must not be in a complete uniform for them to be distinct.
Sentence and Punishment for Evading a Police Officer
If the prosecutor can prove all the elements of CVC 2800.1 without a reasonable doubt, you will be found guilty of a misdemeanor offense. A conviction for evading an officer, in this case, attracts the following penalties:
- A one-year jail sentence to be served in county jail
- A maximum fine of $1000
Summary Probation for Evading a Police Officer in California
There are times when a judge could sentence you to probation as an alternative to jail time. In this case, you will spend part or the entire jail sentence in community service or supervised probation. Not all defendants facing a conviction for evading a police officer are eligible for probation. Often, this sentenced is preserved for first-time offenders who are low risk.
Often misdemeanor probation lasts between one to three years. While on probation, the court requires that you comply with some conditions such as payment of fines, community service, and attending counseling. Failure to comply with these conditions could result in probation revocation.
It is essential to understand that probation is not always the best option for you. You will be tied down by your conviction longer than serving the jail sentence. Therefore, before your attorney agrees on the probation sentence with the court, you must discuss the situation to determine if it's the best fit for you.
Vehicle Impoundment for Violating VC 2800.1 Laws
After an arrest for evading a police officer, the vehicle you used to flee could be impounded. This involves towing the vehicle away and holding it until the legal owner claims it. If your vehicle is impounded for evading a police officer, you have to contact the tow lot for up to thirty days. Before you receive your vehicle back, the tow lot officials will verify:
- Your driver's license
- Proof of current vehicle ownership
- Proof of insurance
In addition to producing the above documents, you must pay an administrative and towing fee before the vehicle is released. If you fail to pick up your vehicle within thirty days, it can be auctioned.
Loss of Commercial Driver's license for Evading an Officer
If you operate on a commercial driver's license, a conviction for violating California Vehicle Code 2800.1 could result in your driver's license suspension for several years. You could face a lifetime revocation if you committed the crime while driving a commercial vehicle. Considering that most commercial drivers depend on their license for a livelihood, a suspension or revocation of the license could be harsh and life-changing consequences. Therefore, if you face charges for this crime, seeking legal guidance is one of the wisest choices.
Defenses against California VC 2800.1
Charges for evading a law enforcement officer arise when you willfully flee from the officer who pursues you. However, there are times when an arrest and charges could stem from a simple act such as speeding away to attend to an emergency without knowing that an officer is after you. Fortunately, facing an arrest does not mean that all hope is lost. There are legal defenses that your lawyer can present on your behalf to fight the charges, and they include:
Lack of Specific Intent
One of the main elements of this crime requires a prosecutor to show that you willfully fled to escape the officer who pursued you. You can argue that you were distracted and failed to notice the officers attempt to stop your vehicle. Additionally, you can argue that the area where the officer asked you to stop was not safe, and you weren't sure if the officer was legitimate or someone impersonating a law enforcement officer.
Lack of Sufficient Evidence
VC specified how an officer should be marked in their uniform and vehicle. Therefore, the prosecutor should be able to show that these elements were present clearly, but you still sped away. If any of the requirements were absent, there might be insufficient evidence to prove that you willfully fled from the officer.
You were attending an Emergency.
Arguing that you were in an emergency is a common defense to charges for evading a police officer. For example, when you are rushing a sick person to the hospital, stopping for the police may jeopardize the person's safety and wellbeing. If you can prove that you were attending to an emergency, you cannot be found guilty under this statute.
If any of these statements are true, you can claim intoxication as a defense to your charges:
- You were intoxicated from drug or alcohol use when the officer stopped you
- As a result of the intoxication, you could not form the required intent to evade the officer
It is essential to understand that you could escape=e VC 2800 charges but e charged with DUI when you present this defense.
Sealing your VC 2800.1 Arrest Record
Evading a police officer is a serious offense under California law. Therefore, even an arrest without a conviction could significantly impact your life. California law has allowed you to continue leading a normal life without allowing your past to haunt you. Sealing an arrest record gives you a right to have your arrest records for a misdemeanor or felony destroyed so that it does not show up on background checks.
The main difference between expungement and sealing is that expungement works for convictions while sealing is for arrests. Unlike expungement, a sealed record does not need to be disclosed to potential employers. Arrest records, in this case, include:
- The booking photo.
- The police report on your crime.
- The rap sheet entries.
If you were arrested or evading a police officer in California but did not face a conviction, you can seek to seal your arrest record. You are eligible to file for sealing of your VC 2800.1 arrest record if you meet the following criteria:
- An officer arrested you for allegedly committing a crime but did not file criminal charges
- You were arrested without a warrant and later released for lack of sufficient evidence
- An officer arrests you with no warrant and later sends you to a hospital without filing charged
- An officer arrests you for intoxication with a controlled substance and fails to file criminal charges
If you have been convicted for evading a police officer and have served jail time or probation, you cannot file a petition to seal the record. The statute of limitations for filing misdemeanor charges like evading a police officer is one year. If charges have not been filed within one year, you will be eligible to seal the arrest record.
The process of sealing your arrest records has two main steps:
Filing a Petition with the Court
A petition to seal a VC 2800.1 arrest record must be filed in the county where the arrest took place. If the prosecutor filed charges for the crime, the petition needs to be filed in the court where the hearing took place. Filing a petition requires you to submit your identif9cation information and other information relevant to your arrest. Leaving out some information, whether for lack of knowledge or intentionally, could affect your chances of having your record sealed.
There are situations where the judge could grant your petition without the need for a hearing. However, if the prosecutor opposes your request, the court will hold a hearing. The hearing for a sealing petition is a high stake. This is because the judge can reject your petition and prohibit you from filing another petition in the future. Therefore, seeking the guidance of a competent criminal lawyer is crucial.
When deciding on your petition, the court will consider the evidence relevant to your arrest and criminal history. If the court approves your petition, your record will be destroyed within thirty days of the judge's decision. The judge will also have your criminal record updated, after which you can firmly answer 'no' when asked about past arrests or detention. Also, the arrest will not be found even when a potential employer does a background check on you.
While you can file a petition for sealing a VC 2800.1 arrest on your own, the process is often very complicated, especially when the prosecutor opposes your petition. Therefore, legal insight will go a long way for you when navigating this process.
Offense Related to Evading a Police Officer in California
When you face an arrest for evading a police officer, there must have been a credible reason why the officer was chasing you. Several offenses are related to evading a police officer in its definition, nature, and elements. The following are some charges that could be charged in the place of or together with California Vehicle Code 2800.1:
You can be arrested and charged with resisting arrest when you delay, resist or obstruct a law enforcement officer from performing their official duty. For this statute, an official duty is not limited to arrest. Many people understand that it is illegal to resist an officer who tries to arrest you. However, the crime of resisting arrest covers a wide range of conduct that interferes with the officer's work.
If you fled from an officer who wanted to arrest you, you could be charged with resisting arrest instead of evading a police officer. Before a conviction for this offense. The court requires the prosecutor to prove these elements:
- You willfully obstructed or delayed an emergency medical technician or a police officer. The term willful in this case means that your actions were intentional.
- You acted while the EMT or law enforcement officer tried to carry out their official duties. It is crucial to understand that the duty of a police officer is not limited to arresting you. You can be charged with resisting arrest even when you obstruct them from perfuming other official activities.
- You knew or should have known n that the officer was performing their duties. Before you are found guilty of resisting arrest in California, it must be clear that you knew the officer I question was performing their duties. If your actions are accidental or unintentional, you cannot face a conviction under this statute.
Both obstructing and resisting an officer are charged as a misdemeanor. If you face a conviction for violating PC 148, you risk spending at least one year in jail. Additionally, the court may require that you pay a fine amounting to $1,000.
Hit and Run
Hit and run is a crime you commit when you leave the scene of an accident without waiting for the police or exchanging information with other drivers. If you are involved in an accident while driving a vehicle in California, the law requires you to stop and wait for a traffic officer to arrive or exchange contacts with other individuals involved in the accident. If you hit another person's vehicle or property, you need to call the police or leave your information behind. Failure to do these will attract criminal charges under CVC 20001.
The elements of the crime that must be clear during a prosecution under this statute include:
- You were involved in a motor vehicle accident while driving a car
- You knew that you were involved in an accident
- You knew that the accident resulted in the injury or death of another person
- You intentionally failed to stop, provide your information to other drivers or contact police officers
If you drive away to evade an officer after involvement in an accident, you could be charged with evading a police officer and hitting and running. A hit and run can be charged as a misdemeanor or a felony in California. When the accident resulted in property damage, you could face misdemeanor charges. However, if you cause serious injury or death to another person, you will face felony charges.
A conviction for a misdemeanor hit and run attracts a one-year jail sentence and a $1,000 fine. However, if you are conviction of a felony violation of the offense, you risk spending up to four years in state prison and fines not exceeding $10,000.
If you are charged with ‘hit and run’ and ‘evading an officer’ crimes, a conviction for these crimes could significantly impact your life. Therefore, seeking legal guidance is essential.
Exhibition of Speed
Exhibition of speed is a crime you commit when you accelerate your vehicle and drive at a dangerously high speed, often done for amusement. In addition to being a criminal charge, an exhibition of speed could be a plea deal of several offenses like DUI and evading a police officer.
If you face an arrest for evading a police officer and sped away unknowingly, you could be charged with exhibition of speed instead of VC 2800.1. The legal definition of an exhibition of speed has the following elements:
- You drove a vehicle on the highway
- While doing so, you accelerate and drive at a speed that is dangerous and unsafe
Exhibition of speed is not as serious o a crime as evading a police officer and is charged as an infraction or a misdemeanor. As a misdemeanor, reckless driving is punishable by up to 90 days in jail and a fine not exceeding $500. However, if you are charged with an infraction, you will not have to spend time in jail. The only punishment for the infraction is a $250 fine.
Felony Reckless Evading
When you evade a police officer while driving a vehicle and cause an accident or injuries to another person, you could be arrested and charged with felony reckless evading under VC 2800.2 of California. Felony reckless evasion is a serious crime that has the following elements:
- A police officer was actively pursuing you in a police vehicle or motorcycle.
- You intentionally fled from the officer.
- You knew that the officer was pursuing you. You cannot be found guilty of felony reckless evading if you did not know that an officer was pursuing you. This could be when they are not marked distinctively by a police vehicle or uniform.
- You evaded the officer in a vehicle while exhibiting wanton disregard for the safety of other people and property. A wanton disregard for the safety of others means that you knew that your conduct posed a risk of harm to others, but you ignored that fact.
Felony reckless evading is a wobbler. Depending on your actions and criminal history, the prosecutor could charge you with either a misdemeanor or a felony. When VC 2800.2 is charged as a felony, a conviction is punishable by formal probation, prison time not exceeding three years, and fines of up to $10,000.
If your crime is prosecuted as a misdemeanor, you could face misdemeanor probation which lasts between one to three years, a minimum jail sentence of six months, or a $1,000 fine.
Find a Orange County Criminal Defense Attorney Near Me
A simple act like speeding away when an officer in uniform fags your vehicle down could result in an arrest and attract charges for evading a police officer under California VC 2800.1. Under California law, it is a crime to flee from a police officer actively pursuing you willfully.
If you face arrest and charges for evading an officer, you could be looking at potentially severe legal penalties for a misdemeanor conviction and life-changing consequences for a felony. Fortunately, not all arrests under this statute result in a criminal conviction. There are several reasonable explanations why you would be compelled not to stop when an officer requires you to do so.
With the help of a knowledgeable legal team, you can fight the charges and avoid the harsh consequences that accompany a conviction. At California Criminal Lawyer Law Group, we can help you understand the nature of your charges and build a strong defense to ensure a favorable outcome for your case. We serve clients requiring legal help to battle criminal charges in Anaheim, CA. Call us today at 714-766-0965 to discuss the details of your case.