Orange County Evading Arrest Attorney
With offices throughout Southern California, our criminal defense law firm handles evading arrest cases throughout Orange, Los Angeles, Riverside and San Bernadino counties.
It is illegal to evade arrest from a police car. There are three different sections governing evading a peace officer in California. Vehicle Code section 2800.1 is a misdemeanor crime that prohibits a defendant from evading arrest. Vehicle Code section 2800.2 is a wobbler that prohibits a defendant from evading arrest while driving in a willful and wanton disregard for the safety of persons or property. Vehicle Code section 2800.3 is also a wobbler that prohibits causing serious bodily injury or death while evading arrest.
Elements of Evading Arrest
In order to convict a defendant of the crime of evading a peace officer, pursuant to Vehicle Code section 2800.1, Vehicle Code section 2800.2 or Vehicle Code section 2800.3, the People must prove each of the following elements beyond a reasonable doubt:
1. A peace officer driving a motor vehicle was pursuing the defendant;
2. The defendant, who was also driving a motor vehicle, willfully fled from, or tried to elude, the officer, intending to evade the officer;
3. All of the following were true:
a. There was at least one lighted red lamp visible from the front of the peace officer’s vehicle;
b. The defendant either saw or reasonably should have seen the lamp;
c. The peace officer’s vehicle was sounding a siren as reasonably necessary;
d. The peace officer’s vehicle was distinctly marked;
e. The peace officer was wearing a distinctive uniform.
If a defendant is accused of violating Vehicle Code section 2800.2, then the People must also prove element # 4 – that during the pursuit, the defendant drove with willful or wanton disregard for the safety of persons or property.
If a defendant is accusing of violating Vehicle Code section 2800.3, then the People also prove a different element # 4—that the defendant’s attempt to flee or elude the pursuing peace officer caused death or serious bodily injury to someone else.
Someone commits an act willfully when he or she does it willingly or on purpose. It is not required that he or she intend to break the law, hurt someone else, or gain any advantage.
A vehicle is distinctively marked if it has features that are reasonably noticeable to other drivers, including a red lamp, siren, and at least one other feature that makes it look different from vehicles that are not used for law enforcement purposes.
A distinctive uniform means clothing adopted by a law enforcement agency to identify or distinguish members of its force. The uniform does not have to be complete or of any particular level of formality. However, a badge, without more, is not enough.
A person acts with wanton disregard for safety when (1) he or she is aware that his or her actions present a substantial and unjustifiable risk of harm, (2) and he or she intentionally ignores that risk. The person does not, however, have to intend to cause damage.
Driving with willful or wanton disregard for the safety of persons or property includes, but is not limited to, causing damage to property while driving or committing three or more violations that are each assigned a traffic violation point.
A serious bodily injury means a serious impairment of a physical condition. Such injury may include, but is not limited to, loss of consciousness, concussion, bone fracture, protracted loss or impairment of any function of bodily member or organ, a wound requiring extensive suturing or serious disfigurement.
A defendant may only be convicted of one count of evading arrest even though the pursuit involved multiple police officers in multiple police vehicles.
Voluntary intoxication is a defense to evading a police officer. Evading a peace officer requires the specific intent to evade the police. Intoxication negates that intent.
Sentencing for Evading Arrest
Vehicle Code section 2800.1 is always a misdemeanor with a maximum punishment of one year in the county jail. Vehicle Code section 2800.2 is a wobbler, which means it can be charged as either a misdemeanor or a felony. If it is a misdemeanor, then the minimum jail time is six months and the maximum jail time is one year. Vehicle Code section 2800.3 is also a wobbler. There is no minimum punishment if the crime is a misdemeanor. If the crime is charged as a felony, then the maximum punishment would be seven years state prison. If someone dies during the commission of this crime, then it is always a felony with a maximum punishment of ten years state prison.
A commercial driver that is convicted of felony evading arrest will face a one year driver’s license suspension. A second conviction for evading arrest will result in a lifetime driver’s license suspension.
Any felony conviction also leads to a lifetime ban on possession of firearms. This ban can be lifted if the defendant’s conviction is reduced to a misdemeanor, pursuant to Penal Code section 17b, or if the defendant acquires a certificate of rehabilitation.
Other Evading a Peace Officer Consequences
Not only can evading a peace officer conviction lead to criminal penalties, but it can also have drastic employment, licensing and immigration consequences. Evading a peace officer crimes are considered crimes of moral turpitude, which are crimes that relate to a person’s honesty. Having an evading a peace officer conviction can prevent a person from finding a job or lead to a person being fired from their current job. Furthermore, many professions that require licensing from a state board, such as doctors, pharmacists, nurses, lawyers, accountants, contractors, teachers, real estate agents and stock brokers, all require background checks. A professional who has an evading a peace officer conviction on their record risks losing their professional license, or never acquiring it in the first place. Perhaps the most severe impact of a evading an peace officer conviction involves immigration consequences. Non-citizens who are permanent residents, with a green card, or temporary visitors, with a visa, can be denied admission or naturalization or even deported, with an evading a peace officer conviction on their record.
The Right Lawyer
Choosing the right criminal defense lawyer will be the most important decision someone can make when facing criminal evading a peace officer charges. Many people who face evading a peace officer charges are good people who made a mistake or exercised poor judgment. There are also some people who have been wrongfully accused of evading a peace officer, based on a misunderstanding or false evidence. You need an attorney who will listen to your side of the story carefully, who will evaluate the evidence thoroughly, who will negotiate with the judge and the District Attorney’s office skillfully, and who will fight in trial aggressively. You need attorney Fred Thiagarajah.
As a former Deputy District Attorney, Fred Thiagarajah has the negotiating skills and trial experience necessary to get the best results for his clients, for criminal cases and immigration consequences. Fred Thiagarajah has helped clients with evading a peace officer charges in the past. For an example of his work, please see his case results and read his client testimonials. With offices throughout Southern California, our criminal defense team has the necessary experience to defend evading arrest cases in Orange, Los Angeles, Riverside and San Bernadino Counties.
Fred Thiagarajah – The Right Lawyer. The Right Result. The Right Choice.
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