Are you facing legal charges of fleeing and eluding while in the state of Florida? Seek a criminal attorney immediately. Fleeing and eluding are serious charges that affect even the innocent.
At Anderson & Ackerman, we handle cases specially related to fleeing and eluding charges. Our lawyers offer professional legal counsel and defense strategies for those facing severe criminal charges.
Consult with one of our experienced criminal defense attorneys and schedule a free consultation and case evaluation today!
What Is a Fleeing and Eluding Charge in Florida?
A person who is stopped by an officer is not allowed to leave unless they have express permission by the officer to do so.
Fleeing refers to leaving the premises of a crime scene or location where an officer stopped you without their permission to do so, whereas eluding refers to not stopping at all when an officer has given the appropriate signals for you to pull over. Appropriate signals include flashing their lights, using their siren, hand gestures, or verbally calling for you to stop.
Running, driving, or any forceful exit from the scene while in police pursuit could be grounds for fleeing and eluding, according to Florida Statute Section 316.1935.
To more fully understand fleeing and eluding, one should also understand pursuit laws. Pursuit laws are protocols which police must follow when pursuing suspects, such as guidelines on when law enforcement can initiate, continue, or terminate a pursuit, considering factors like the seriousness of the crime, road conditions, and the potential risk to bystanders and officers.
If you are in fact guilty of whatever felony or misdemeanor an officer stops you for, fleeing and eluding charges can be added on top of it, and even if you are innocent, you can still be penalized for fleeing.
Fleeing and eluding can result in safety concerns. Someone running a red light at a traffic stop, speeding, weaving in and out of traffic, turning off headlights, driving in the wrong lane, or committing any other state traffic violation while fleeing police could potentially harm an innocent bystander.
There could be multiple reasons why someone would flee an officer of the law. They could be in a vehicle containing contraband such as narcotics or illegal weaponry.
How to Beat a Fleeing and Eluding Charge in Florida
There are certain defense tactics your lawyer will be aware of that may beat a fleeing and eluding charge under Florida law.
An officer must have both their lights and sirens on when asking to pull over, as well as have clearly marked police department insignias, and be driving an authorized patrol vehicle.
Your attorney can make the argument that an officer did not follow procedure while arresting the suspect or unlawfully pursued them, and this may lessen the charges or cause the case to be dropped altogether.
Unlawful search and seizure is a violation of every American’s Fourth Amendment right. It applies to the act of an officer searching your vehicle or property without a warrant or probable cause.
Your lawyer can also file a motion in court for a ruling of evidence suppression, which is a request from the judge to ask that certain evidence be dismissed.
For instance, in the case that an officer both placed you under arrest and subjected you to possible interrogation, but did not read to you your Miranda rights, which are warnings to suspects in custody about their constitutional right to refuse questions from law enforcement and protect themselves from self-incrimination, then it is possible that any statement made cannot be used by the prosecution during a trial.
In speaking of trial, it’s key to have a defense lawyer with a proven track record for jury trial to give you the best shot of winning your case. Presentation
However, trial is a very risky deal, and no lawyer can guarantee a favorable verdict given the many variables of court procedures. So the question arises of if one should simply just plead guilty to avoid trial altogether? The reason why even the innocent plead guilty is to avoid a worst possible scenario if, despite best efforts, the state does not dismiss the charges.
Your attorney can discuss with you about the ethics and benefits of a plea bargain and whether it may be in your best interest to plead guilty.
With the right strategy or bargain, your sentence can be lessened and even dropped.
Is Fleeing and Eluding Considered a Felony?
In the state of Florida, fleeing and eluding is considered a felony in the third degree. Third-degree is typically the least serious charge for a felony, but felony nonetheless.
Why is fleeing and eluding considered a felony and not a misdemeanor? Fleeing and eluding not only endangers innocent lives, but potentially the lives of law enforcement officers in the process. This potential danger is what elevates it from the level of misdemeanor.
Another reason is the intent. In order for a fleeing and eluding charge to be valid, a willfulness to disobey an officer (and thereby, the law) is required. Willfully disobeying the law can often be a factor to how the degree and level of felony is charged. It is not the only factor, but it is a factor nonetheless.
In some ways, it can also be considered obstruction of justice, which is a crime in and of itself, the same way that providing a false statement by lying under oath (perjury) is considered a felony crime.
Penalty for Fleeing and Eluding
In Florida and most states, being charged with a felony crime usually punishes up to 1 to 5 years in prison with conjugal visits, or probation sentences, and permanent criminal record. Felony charges can also affect the acquisition of certain licenses, such as a driver’s license or gun license, and can affect future employment opportunities. And current licenses might get revoked for up to five years or more.
If a person is found guilty of fleeing and eluding, the punishments in Florida can range from the following:
- Fleeing or attempting to elude officers – Third-degree felony, level 1 – Up to 5 years in prison and fines up to $5,000
- Fleeing or attempting to elude officers with lights and sirens activated – Third degree, level 3 – Up to 5 years in prison and fines up to $5,000
- Reckless fleeing and eluding at a high rate of speed – Second degree, level 4 – Up to 15 years in prison and fines up to $5,000
- Aggravated fleeing and eluding – Second degree, level 5 – Up to 15 years in prison and fines up to $5,000
- Aggravated fleeing and eluding resulting in death or serious bodily injuries – First degree, level 8 – Up to 30 years in prison and fines up to $10,000
As popular as police car chases are in Hollywood movies, the penalties for such actions in real life are far more severe and harsher than some people may realize. That’s why having an attorney in the event you are charged with these crimes is crucial, as their expertise can help identify evidence that suggests if the police in question may not have followed the exact procedure when pursuing the defendant.
Seeking Legal Help? Contact A Criminal Lawyer
You have rights, and among those are the rights to an attorney. If you need a legal defense, do not hesitate to contact a lawyer for your case.
Consult with a defense attorney at Anderson & Ackerman Law Group to find a lawyer who will assist you at every step from the pre-trial motions and preliminary to plea bargains or trial procedure. You don’t have to fight alone. Call our offices and schedule an appointment as soon as you can.