Criminal Defense Attorneys in San Diego Handling all Misdemeanor and Felony Evading Cases
An evading case in the criminal law sphere is when a police officer attempts to pull someone over and that person instead starts to go on the run. There are multiple different types of evading cases including misdemeanors and felonies, which will all be discussed below. Evading a police officer is a very serious crime because the way it is often charged includes a minimum mandatory sentence of 180 days in jail. That is the law and that has to be imposed if convicted of this crime. That is why it is so important to hire the best criminal defense attorney in San Diego in order to protect your rights.
Misdemeanor Evading a Police Officer
Misdemeanor evading is generally charged as California Vehicle Code Section 2800.1 and this type of evading does not have the minimum mandatory jail time attached. This type of evading does not include any type of reckless driving and that is why it is rarely charged. When someone is evading police officers and they are trying to get away, they are generally driving above the speed limit and they are disobeying traffic laws, which in conjunction with other things, can be seen as reckless driving. This type of evading is not charged that often by the district attorney or city attorney.
Felony Evading a Police Officer
Felony evading a police officer is the most commonly charged in section VC 2800.2. This type of evading includes wanton and reckless driving during the time someone is trying to get away from the officer. Although this crime is generally provable by the district attorney, there are certainly elements that need to be met and are not always that easy to show.
The first element is: that at least one lighted red lamp was visible from the front of the peace officer’s vehicle. Now this means that it had to be visible by the person who is accused of fleeing and it has to be one of the front lights. If an officer pulls over someone with just their rear lights lit up this would not be able to be proven.
The next element is that the defendant saw or reasonably should have seen the red lamp. A lot of the time the officer or the prosecutor will assert that the person either saw the lamp or they looked back during the pursuit. There are two main situations where cases like this take place. The first situation is where an individual actually pulls over but then during a conversation with the officer, or as the officer leaves their vehicle, that person decides to flea. The next situation would be a scenario where the officer is about to pull someone over for speeding or a vehicle code violation and instead of stopping they just keep going. In the second situation there is a lot stronger of a defense for the idea that the driver did not see the officer. If they stopped at a later time or if they crashed, it could be a logical conclusion to a jury that they may have not been aware of the officer following them.
Also included in this: the peace officer must have had a distinctively marked car, they must have a full uniform on and they must have sounded their siren at some point during the pursuit. There is a split of authority at this point on whether or not an undercover officer in an undercover vehicle would be considered a distinctively marked car.
The requirements for actions that the defendant must have done include: they must have willfully fled, had the specific intent to evade the officer and driven with willful or wanton disregard for persons or property. The California Jury Instructions note that examples of wanton disregard for persons or property can include speeding, other vehicle code violations, or a traffic accident. If this crime is proven, it is a mandatory 180 days in jail. An experienced criminal lawyer in San Diego can sometimes negotiate with the prosecutor to try and have an alternative to custody in this scenario. The worst type of situation that one could get themselves into would be if they got into an accident and caused injury to another. This will be discussed below.
Evading a Police Officer with Injury
The prosecutor’s office often takes this type of offense very seriously. This is when all of the elements of the crime are met above but there is also an injury that occurred during the offense. The vehicle code that governs this crime is VC 2800.3 and it is classified as evading or fleeing from a police officer with injury. Now most people who think about this would think that the injury would have to be from an unknown person, someone in another vehicle, the police officer, or even a bystander walking. What a lot of people don’t know is that the injury can actually come from one of your own passengers. Ozols Law Firm, recently dealt with a case where their client was on a motorcycle with their significant other on the back. When they crashed it a little into the pursuit, they both fell and they were injured. The district attorney’s office in San Diego charged this case as an Evading a Police Officer with Injury case and added on a great bodily injury allegation.
The felony sentence range for this crime is 16 months – 3 years in prison and a great bodily injury allegation adds an additional 3 years in prison and makes this a felony strike. This is a very serious crime and it needs to be defended properly. Whether its negotiating your case to keep you out of prison or getting you the not guilty verdict you deserve, Ozols Law Firm can help. Alex Ozols has years of experience dealing with evading cases with a large portion of them actually being from military clients. If you are caught evading a police officer, make sure you hire the right attorney. This is something we specialize in, we know about, and something we can help you get the result you deserve. For a free consultation feel free to call now.