Some of us drive as if the world is a video game. Speeding, beating the red light, and driving on the wrong side of the road are just a few of many driving behaviors that are incredibly dangerous. If you're caught red-handed doing any of the above, it is best to just surrender and follow the orders of the authorities. Otherwise, evading the police would put you into more trouble -- something that could even land you behind bars.
It is important to note that forcibly escaping from law enforcement is always an offense prosecutable under California Vehicle Code VC 2800.1. However, if you do so in a reckless manner, a different statute will now be cited for your violation, which is California Vehicle Code VC 2800.2. Under this law, “reckless evasion” means:
- You were evading, or attempted to evade, the police while driving a vehicle; and
- You operated the vehicle in such a way that has no regard for the safety of people and/or property.
Meanwhile, for an act to qualify as “evasion from a police officer”, the following conditions must be met:
- You were being pursued by a peace officer in a vehicle;
- You wilfully evaded, or attempted to elude, the officers chasing you;
- You saw, or reasonably should have seen, at least one lighted red lamp flashing from the officer's vehicle;
- The officers sounded a siren that is distinctively marked;
- The officers were wearing a distinctive uniform.
Remember that the prosecutor must also prove that you drove with a “wanton disregard for safety”, which means:
- You knew that your behavior could cause risks to the safety of people and property; but
- You willfully ignored those risks.
We typically see dramatic pursuits of a criminal by a group of cops. These scenarios are often too far from reality; hence why we decided to put up a list of common and realistic examples of reckless evasion from police officers as stated in California Vehicle Code VC 2800.2:
- After a long day at work, you finally were driving back home. After seeing how empty the streets were, you decided to go above the speed limit just because you're desperate to go back home and get some good night's sleep. Unfortunately, a police officer saw how unusually fast you were going so he decided to pursue you. He flashed his lights, honked at you, and sounded the siren but you still refused to stop. Instead, you decided to go even faster -- disobeying traffic rules and narrowly missing a few pedestrians on the way.
- A teenager, who doesn't have a license to drive yet, borrowed his mom's car without her permission to attend his friend's birthday party. On the way there, however, he was pulled over by a cop who was suspicious of his age. The kid and the officer exchanged a few lines before the boy suddenly sped away. The boy did realize that they were near a school, so he almost hit a few kids in his attempt to escape.
- A drug dealer was driving his car to illegally transport cocaine to a few clients. He did not know that a checkpoint was set up on his route, so he turned his vehicle around to avoid the checkpoint. This would have been fine if it wasn't a No U-Turn zone, so a few officers hopped into their patrol car and chased the man. The man, fearing that he would get caught, started driving out of the road and into narrow passageways intended only for pedestrians. He knocked out a few trashcans and other properties.
Other similar violations include:
- Evading an officer;
- Evading causing great bodily injury or death;
- Reckless driving;
- Resisting arrest; and
- Disturbing the peace.
Penalties for Reckless Evasion
As stated under California Vehicle Code VC 2800.2, reckless evasion can either be a felony or a misdemeanor offense. This means that:
For a misdemeanor reckless evasion, the penalties are as follows:
- Between 6 months to 1 year in county jail; and/or
- A fine not more than $1,000.
For a felony reckless evasion, the penalties are as follows:
- Either 16 months, 2 years, or 3 years in state prison; and/or
- A fine not exceeding $10,000.
Keep in mind that probation may be offered in lieu of prison time.
Need Legal Representation?
If you are currently facing a reckless evasion charge, getting a criminal defense attorney is perhaps the best move you'll need to make. We offer proper legal representation to all of our clients and we work tirelessly to ensure that you will, too. Call us now or leave us a message for a legal consultation.
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