It is quite common for someone to be confused about hearing a police vehicle or motorcycle speeding after them. Sometimes you may over speed to give way to the police without the knowledge that it’s you they are after. You commit an offense of evading police if you willfully flee or attempt to get away from a peace officer who is pursuing you. If you or your loved one is facing charges for evading a police officer, you will require the guidance of a criminal defense attorney. Fortunately, The Pasadena Criminal Attorney can help you avoid the legal consequences that accompany a conviction for this offense. We serve clients in Pasadena, CA, to ensure the best possible outcome in your case.
Overview of Californian Vehicle Code 2800.1
You commit an offense of evading police when you willfully run away or attempt to run away from an officer who is pursuing you. A prosecutor must prove the following elements of the crime to convict you for evading the police:
- A police or peace officer was pursuing you. The question of whether the officer was pursuing you or not will be determined by the jury during the hearing. The factors surrounding the whole event will determine this. The police officer who was seeking you should have been in a motorcycle or vehicle.
- You willfully fled from an officer in a motor vehicle. Under California Vehicle Code 2800.1, you evade the police willfully by doing it on purpose. It is not required that you fled to break the law, gain an advantage, or hurt someone else. However, during the case, the court will determine the main reason why you tried to run away from the officer who was pursuing you.
- The prosecutor must also show that the officer was distinctly marked in a way that you could easily recognize them. Factors that will show a distinction of the officer from other people include:
- There was a red light visible from the vehicle which the officer was driving
- The officer’s car was sounding a siren at the time they were allegedly pursuing you
- You reasonably should have seen the light or heard the siren before you fled
- The officer’s vehicle was marked distinctively.
- Presence of name of the police name or department on the outside of the vehicle
- The officer is wearing a uniform that is visible from your side. A distinctive dress will be any clothing adopted by law enforcement to distinguish its members from the public.
All the above elements must be proven without a reasonable doubt before you are charged and convicted under Vehicle Code 2800.1 of California.
Penalties for Evading a Police Officer in California
Evading a police officer in California is a wobbler. The offense will be charged as a misdemeanor or a felony, depending on the circumstances. Also, the penalties you receive after conviction will depend on the severity of the crime. Evading a police officer is more likely to be charged as a misdemeanor, and it carries the following penalties:
- Up to one year in county jail
- A fine not exceeding $1,000
- Possible suspension of your driver’s license for one year
If you caused an injury to someone else, you might be charged with a felony. A conviction for felony evading will cause you:
- To spend up to in state prison
- Pay Fines not exceeding $10,000
- Driver’s license suspension for one year
- Vehicle impoundment
If you are facing criminal charges for evading the police, you will require the help of a competent criminal defense attorney. Your attorney will help you argue your case for a possible reduction of charges and penalties.
Legal Defenses Against Evading a Police Officer
Getting arrested and charged with evading a police officer does not mean that you are guilty of the offense. Some circumstances may cause you to speed without necessarily trying to get away from a pursuing police officer. With the help of a knowledgeable criminal defense attorney, there are defenses you can present in an attempt to lessen the charges against you. The following are some legal defenses against California Vehicle Code 2800.1:
Lack of Intent
You are only guilty for an offense of evading police if you did so with an intent to avoid the officer or escape. Sometimes you may notice a police vehicle behind you and speed away without the knowledge that the officer was pursuing you. If you can successfully prove that you had no reason to be getting away from the officer, you cannot be convicted for evading the police.
A prosecutor must show you were driving the vehicle. You may look like the driver or another person driving a car similar to yours might have committed the offense. In some instances, someone can steal your vehicle and use it to commit a crime. Your criminal defense attorney will help you prove that you were not driving the vehicle at the time of the incident. This element of defense can be quite complicated to prove since you will have to explain how your car ended up with the person who committed the offense. Therefore, it is essential to ensure you have proper legal guidance for your criminal case.
You Did not Recognize or Notice the Officer
A prosecutor is required to prove that the officer who was pursuing you was distinct from other members of the public. This could be through a flashlight or siren on their vehicle. Also, a detectable label or badge on the clothes of the officer are proof that you would have seen them. As a defense to your case, you can claim that you did not recognize the presence of the officer who was allegedly pursuing you. In that case, you did not attempt to flee from the police but were doing your regular activity. Also, you can try to challenge the accusation by claiming that the officer did not flash a light when they were pursuing you.
Claiming you did not Act willfully
A prosecutor must clearly show that you willfully fled from the police to convict you for this offense. Sometimes you drive fast and fail to stop to avoid a collision. In other cases, you may have been attending to an emergency, such as rushing a critical patient to the hospital. You can avoid a conviction or get lesser penalties if you show that you did not willfully evade a police officer. Although you are guilty of the actual evading, a logical necessity may reduce or eliminate the punishment.
Improper Police Procedure
If the police officer did not use the correct procedure to pull you over, you might have a valid reason not to stop. When an officer uses a gesture that is not clear that they want you to stop, it may be challenging to understand whether or not you need to pull over. Since the officer did not follow the right procedure, you may have a valid defense to your case.
Your criminal defense attorney can help you prove that you were threatened to act the way you did. However, to use this threat, you must show that you were in real danger to violence or actual violence, you can be able to use this defense. It is crucial to understand that if the officer saw you stop and get out of the vehicle before getting away, it may be challenging to present duress as a defense.
Expunging Your Criminal Records After a Conviction for Evading a Police Officer
An expungement is a form of post-conviction relief authorization by the government. The expungement aims at relieving you of all penalties and disabilities which arise from a conviction in California. If you are convicted of evading a police officer, you can get an expungement for your record. However, the law requires you to meet the following criteria:
- You complete probation. Probation is likely to be one of the penalties you receive after a conviction for evading a police officer. Completing probation means that you follow all the terms stated during the sentence and avoid committing new offenses. If you violate probation, the jury can still grant you an expungement. However, this will be dependent on your overall probation performance, the severity of the offense, and your criminal record.
- You must not have any pending cases or convictions. If you are currently serving other penalties for a different offense, you will not qualify to get an expungement in California.
Before the court grants your request, your attorney will:
- Analyze the case to determine whether you are eligible for this kind of relief
- Research the relevant law
- File appropriate paperwork within the given time
- Attend the hearing
If you are eligible to expunge of conviction records, you should apply as soon as you complete probation. Also, if your probation penalty is terminated, you can apply for expungement of these records. However, you have to wait for at least two years to apply for the relief of your conviction.
Unlike sealing of arrest records, when your conviction is expunged, it will still come up in background checks done by potential employers. However, if you are convicted for evading the police, getting your conviction expunged would benefit you in the following ways:
- Even when the expunged criminal record shows up in a background check, an employer will not discriminate against you for such a conviction.
- An expunged conviction will not be used as a basis to exclude you from being a witness in other cases
- When your conviction for evading the police in California is expunged, you can quickly obtain a professional license
If you want to apply for the relief of records after a conviction for evading the police, it is crucial to seek legal guidance.
Frequently Asked Questions For Evading a Police Officer in California
The following are some frequently asked questions about evading a police officer that will help you have a better understanding of Vehicle Code 2800.1:
Will I be charged with evading a police officer if an emergency hindered me from stopping?
In California, you will be convicted of evading a police officer if you willingly fled from them. Also, the prosecutor needs to clearly show that the police were distinct, and you were aware that they were after you. However, with the help of a criminal defense attorney, you can argue that you did not intend to flee, but you had a pressing matter to sort out.
If I tried to flee from one police car but ended up being chased by multiple vehicles, can I be charged for multiple counts of evading?
No. When you flee from an officer in California, you will only be charged with one account of evading a police officer no matter the number of police vehicles that were chasing you. However, you may face a penalty enhancement after conviction, depending on the circumstances of the case.
Can I be charged with evading a police officer if the officer was on a motorcycle when I failed to stop?
Yes. Under California Vehicle Code 2800.1, you will be convicted for evading if you fled or tried to flee from police on a vehicle or a motorcycle.
What are the immigration consequences of a conviction for evading a police officer in California?
Some criminal convictions will cause deportation of non-citizens from California. However, evading the police is not one of these offenses. In most cases, Vehicle Code 2800.1 is charged as a misdemeanor and will not affect your immigration status.
How will a conviction for user Vehicle Code 2800.1 of California affect my gun rights?
Individuals who get convicted for particular felony offenses have a likelihood of losing their right to own and use their firearms. A conviction for evading a police officer will not harm your gun rights. After the conviction, you do not have to worry about getting a firearm ban.
Crimes Related to Evading a Police Officer in California
If you are arrested and charged with an offense of evading a police officer, there must be a good reason why the officer was pursuing you. If you are charged with the following charges alongside or in the place of evading the police in California:
California Vehicle Code 10851 – Driving a Vehicle Without the Owner’s Consent
If you evade a police officer with a vehicle that did not belong to you, you could be charged with both evading the police and taking a vehicle without consent from the owner. When getting convicted Under Vehicle Code 10851, the prosecutor must prove that you took a car that does not belong to you. Also, it must be clear that the owner did not consent to the driving, and you aimed at denying the owner of possession. Regardless of whether you wanted to take the vehicle away permanently or temporarily, you can still be charged with this offense.
A conviction for driving a vehicle without the owner’s consent will attract up to a one-year jail sentence and fines of up to $5,000 when charged as a misdemeanor. When charged as a felony, you will serve a jail sentence of up to three years. It is crucial to understand that a prior conviction for a felony will increase your penalties in this case. If you evaded the police while driving a car that does not belong to you, you are likely to face harsh penalties. This is because the sentence for this offense will be served on completion of the other sentences. If you or your loved one is facing these charges as an addition to evading the police, you will require the guidance of a competent criminal defense attorney.
California Vehicle Code 2800.2 – Felony Reckless Evading
In California, reckless evading is defined as evading a police officer on a vehicle, and in doing so, you drove with a willful disregard for the safety of others. For the prosecutor to show that you evaded the police, it must be clear that a police officer on a motorcycle or vehicle was pursuing you. Also, they must prove that you willfully fled from them in a motor vehicle. The officer must have been distinct from other people to prove that you willfully evaded.
For felony reckless evading willful disregard for safety is when you drive recklessly without considering the safety of other road users. This is by ignoring the risk your conduct may be posing to other people. Also, violation of three traffic regulations in California is considered disregard for safety. If, while evading the police, you drove recklessly and put the lives of other people in danger, you can be charged with reckless evading.
Despite the name, reckless evading is a wobbler and can be charged as a felony or misdemeanor depending on the circumstances of the case. Moreover, your criminal history will be a contributing factor when determining the nature of your charge. When charged as a misdemeanor reckless evading, you will face misdemeanor probation, a jail sentence not exceeding one year, and up to $1,000 in fines.
On the other hand, a felony conviction will attract up to three years in state prison and a fine not exceeding $10,000. Also, a conviction for this offense as a felony may cause a suspension of your driver’s license. Getting charged with reckless evading will attract more severe penalties as compared to misdemeanor evading. Therefore, it is essential to seek legal representation from a criminal defense attorney.
Evading an Officer Causing Injury or Death – California Vehicle Code 2800.3
You will be arrested and charged with evading an officer causing injury if while fleeing from a police officer, you cause serious injury or death to someone else. A serious bodily injury will consist of serious disfigurement, bone fractures, severe brain injury, and other fatal injuries. Evading the police causing injury is a wobbler in California. This offense can be charged as a misdemeanor or a felony, depending on your criminal history and the circumstances. A conviction for evading the police and causing injury when charged as a felony will attract penalties, including:
- Formal probation
- Up to 7 years imprisonment
- Fines not exceeding $10,000
A misdemeanor conviction for this offense will cause:
- Misdemeanor probation
- Up to one year of jail time
- $10,000 in fines
It is important to understand that if while evading a police officer, you cause the death of another person, you will be charged with a felony. This will also increase your penalties to ten years in prison. A conviction for a felony, in this case, will ban you from owning a firearm and a possible driver’s license suspension. If you are charged with evading the police alongside causing injury or death, it is vital to consult a criminal defense attorney.
Resisting Arrest – California Penal Code 148
You will be arrested and charged with resisting arrest if you delay or obstruct a public officer in their professional duty. The prosecutor must prove that you willfully resisted delayed or obstructed the officer from their duty. Also, it should be clear that you reasonably should have known that the officer was trying to perform their legal duty. If you are charged with evading from a police officer, you can as well face charges for resisting arrest. This would be the case if you fled from the police on foot. Resisting arrest is a misdemeanor whose conviction will attract one year in county jail or a fine not exceeding $1,000.
Find a Criminal Defense Attorney Near Me
An act like speeding away without noticing a police officer pursuing you could get you arrested and charged with evading a police officer. Sometimes you may not even be aware that the officer is after you, especially when you have not committed an offense. However, facing these charges does not guarantee an automatic conviction. With the help of a criminal defense attorney from The Pasadena Criminal Attorney, you can present several defenses to contest the case. If you have a case in Pasadena, you will need us in your corner. Call us today at 626-689-2277 to discuss more details of your case.