Evading Police Officers While Driving
In movies and TV shows, car chase scenes with the police provide some dramatic and exciting moments for the viewers. A chase sequence adds adrenaline and suspense, but if you do it in real life and you are caught by the police, not only will you be arrested for the original charge they were pursuing you for, but also for evading police. In California, it is illegal to evade police officers who are pursuing you in a car or bicycle. Always pay attention to signs and signals from any officers.
Elements of the Crime
California Vehicle Code 2800.1 VC states that it is illegal for a person to willfully flee (or evade) a police officer when that officer is pursuing them in a motor vehicle. An officer cannot just claim that the defendant evaded them; the prosecution must prove several elements. The police would have to pursue the defendant and the defendant would have to intentionally evade the officer by fleeing. Furthermore, the police officer’s car must have had a siren and a lamp audible and visible from the cop car. Plus, the driver must have been identified as a police officer and not just any stranger with a siren pasted on top of their vehicle. This means the vehicle and the officer must have been distinctly identified.
Punishments for the Crime
Many of the elements above, like whether the police officer was uninformed or if the sirens were visible, depending on each case. If the defendant is found guilty of evading a police officer, the defendant is convicted of a misdemeanor offense. This offense can lead to possible jail time as well as paying a fine. If a person has been wrongly accused of this crime, a criminal lawyer can argue for a legal defense, which can include showing a lack of intent. Each case is different, and a skilled lawyer will be vital for all defendants.