Getting pulled over by a police officer can be an incredibly stressful experience. From the moment that you see those flashing lights in your rear view mirror, your mind starts to race. In the event that you get pulled over by a law enforcement officer, it’s important to remain calm and look for a safe area to pull over. The same holds true for other police commands which are issued when you are not behind the wheel of a car. When a police officer asks you to do something, it is in your best interest to follow accordingly.
If a police officer tries to pull you over and in a state of panic you start to drive away instead of stopping, you risk being arrested from fleeing from law enforcement.
You don’t have to be a bad person to commit a crime. Oftentimes, otherwise good people who are generally law abiding citizens can make one bad decision, one bad choice and end up on the wrong side of the law. If you were signaled by police to pull over your vehicle or to stop, but panicked and failed to do so, you made a bad decision. Fleeing from or Eluding a Police Officer is a crime. Penalties may include significant fines, a suspension of your driver’s license (if a vehicle was used in the commission of the crime), and imprisonment. If you have been charged with Fleeing or Attempting to Elude a Police Officer, The Law Offices of Greg Prosmushkin, P.C. can help.
Understanding the Crime
We understand this may seem unimportant to you, but it’s not. In most cases, your best defense will derive from understanding what exactly is required to commit this crime and what the officer’s responsibilities are in stopping a person. A driver who “willfully fails or refuses to bring his vehicle to a stop, or who otherwise flees or attempts to elude a pursuing police officer, when given a visual and audible signal to bring the vehicle to a stop” has committed this offense. So what does this mean? Well, “willfully” indicates that there must be some intent on the driver’s part to ignore officer instruction. The statute also indicates that there must be a “visual and audible signal to bring the vehicle to a stop.” This is the responsibility of the police officer.
The rationale behind “willfully” is that the law does not seek to punish persons who did not realize they were being stopped. Therefore, the beginnings of a defense can be mounted if you can demonstrate that you did not willfully fail or refuse to stop your vehicle when instructed to do so, and instead were unaware that such was requested of you.
This bleeds into the primary mode of defense in these cases, where the state via the officer fails to meet their burden, because the officer did not give appropriate “visual and audible signal to bring the vehicle to a stop.” Appropriate means to signal an individual to stop include: sirens, emergency lights, voice, and hand signals. All this taken together is to mean that the officer has to appropriately indicate a stop, and should they fail to do so, you can’t be held responsible for your failure to stop and subsequent flight. The Law Offices of Greg Prosmushkin, P.C. will prepare an appropriate defense, disputing prosecutor evidence, and fight to protect your rights.
The grading of the crime depends upon a number of factors, all of which must be proven by the prosecution. Typically, this offense is codified as a second degree misdemeanor. Penalties include $5,000 in fines, a one year suspension of driver’s license, and up to two years imprisonment. However, the crime may be upgraded to a misdemeanor of the third degree if in the process of the crime, the accused:
- Endangered the public or police officers
- Was under the influence of drugs or alcohol
- Crossed state lines
A conviction of a third degree misdemeanor for fleeing police can carry fines of up to $15,000, a one year suspension of driver’s license, and up to seven years imprisonment.
Obviously, these penalties are severe and you must do everything you can to protect your rights. A good first step is contacting The Law Offices of Greg Prosmushkin, P.C. today to schedule a free consultation with one of our defense attorneys.
This content was written on behalf of Greg Prosmushkin.