Running from the Police is Not a Good Idea
Most law-abiding citizens instinctively freeze and remain in place when ordered to do so by law enforcement officers. Those that run from police risk not only being charged with additional offenses but also (apparently) risk their lives. An alleged burglar was reportedly dragged underwater by an alligator while he was hiding from police in a lake. This is unfortunate and tragic, because burglary is not a crime that carries with it the death penalty (although, if prosecuted as a first degree felony, it can be punished with a life sentence).
Penalties for Attempting to Avoid Capture
When a person attempts to elude law enforcement while he or she is in a vehicle, the person will likely be charged with “fleeing or attempted to elude,” in violation of Florida Statute 316.1935. This statute is only violated where certain facts are present:
- The person is driving a motor vehicle;
- The person has been given a signal to stop or halt (the signal can be audible – such as an officer yelling “Freeze!” – or visual, such as an officer activating his or her emergency lights or holding up his or her hand in a “stop” signal;
- The law enforcement officer was properly identified (i.e., wearing his or her uniform and badge) or driving a properly-marked patrol vehicle; and
- The person acted “willfully.”
Depending on the unique facts and circumstances of the case, including whether any person was injured or killed while the offense of fleeing and eluding was being committed, fleeing and eluding can be considered up to a first degree felony.
Is a Fleeing and Eluding Charge Really That Big of a Deal?
Although it is listed along with other traffic violations in the Florida Statutes, a fleeing and eluding charge should not be dismissed as trivial or inconsequential. In fact, some prosecutors may attempt to strike a plea deal with a defendant wherein the defendant will plead to a fleeing and eluding charge in exchange for the dismissal of other charges. The defendant, not appreciating the severity of his or her fleeing and eluding charge, may take the offer, believing that he or she is getting quite the plea deal. When heavy penalties are later imposed based on the defendants’ conviction, it is usually too late for the understandably-surprised defendant to change his or her mind.
Contact Jeffrey S. Weiner, P.A. for Assistance
This underscores the necessity of having your criminal case evaluated by an experienced, knowledgeable, and aggressive South Florida criminal defense attorney. Attorney Jeffrey S. Weiner has years of experience representing Floridians charged with a variety of offenses, including serious felony offenses punishable by long periods of incarceration and/or expensive fines. Jeffrey S. Weiner will explore the evidence the prosecution claims implicates you and help you decide whether accepting a plea offer or fighting your charges at trial makes the most sense for your situation. Contact his office today by calling (305) 670-9919 or completing our online form and schedule your free initial consultation today.