Evading a police officer is the criminal act of not stopping when told to by a police officer. It does not matter whether the police officer verbally instructs a person to stop or flashes their lights. The crime generally occurs when you are driving a car and failed to stop for a police officer when he signals you to pull over.
To be prosecuted for the crime, the following elements must be shown:
- While you were driving, you willfully attempted to get rid of the officer.
- You kept driving with the intent to evade that officer.
- The officer's vehicle had at least one red light lit and was visible from the front.
- You saw or should have seen the red light.
- The officer’s siren went off.
- The officer was driving a distinctively marked car.
- The officer was in uniform.
If the district attorney cannot prove the above elements, then you cannot be charged with such an offense.
Are there Any Defenses to Evading a Police Officer?
Being charged with the crime of evading a police officer is not the same as having committed the crime. There are some possible defenses a evading a police officer charge:
- Lack of Intent: You lacked intent in not stopping for the officer.
- Mistaken Identity: You were not driving the vehicle.
- Duress: You were forced to evade the police officer under a threat.
- Necessity: You had an emergency in your vehicle or to go to that you were rushing to get to.
- Unmarked Vehicle or Officer: The police officer was not in uniform or was not in a marked car and you did not want to stop for your safety.
What are the Consequences for Evading a Police Officer?
Evading an officer is generally classified as a criminal misdemeanor. However, it can be considered a felony if you violate other laws while running from the officer. Evading a police office or refusing to stop for a police officer will only lead to negative consequences such as:
- Drivers license suspended or restricted;
- Restitution and other fines;
- Community service;
- Potential jail time; and/or
- Heavy fines of over $1,000.
Can I Refuse to Stop for Police?
If a police officer requests that an individual pull over, under no circumstances can they refuse to stop. Even if that person believes the police officer has no reason to pull them over, they must do so on request.
As long as the police officer can establish probable cause of any law, ordinance, or safety code, then the stop is legal. Best practice is for the driver to find a safe place to pull over and have the officer explain why they are stopping them.
Make sure that you give them the basic information they need such as drivers license, proof of insurance, and registration. You may ask to remain silent and talk to your lawyer after that and they cannot question you any further.
Do I Need a Lawyer?
An experienced criminal defense attorney is knowledgeable of the effective strategies of dismissing evading officer charges. Further, they can help you negotiate a plea bargain to get rid of the charges and enter for a lesser crime that carries a smaller punishment.