Fleeing or eluding police, or failure to stop as directed by a police officer, is a serious felony offense in Florida, punishable by imprisonment, driver’s license revocation, and other penalties. Several aggravating factors can complicate the case and bring increased penalties. If you have been charged with attempting to elude police in Florida, call our criminal defense lawyer at Goldman Wetzel to begin working on your case: 727-828-3900.
What exactly do fleeing or eluding police charges entail?
Florida Statute § 316.1935 defines the offense of fleeing or attempting to elude a law enforcement officer, and details the penalties. A driver can face charges of fleeing police if, after being ordered by an officer to stop or remain stopped, willfully refuses to stop the vehicle, or stops the vehicle but then willfully flees in an attempt to elude (escape) the officer.
What are the penalties for fleeing or attempting to elude police?
Fleeing or eluding a police officer is a third degree felony in Florida (if there are no aggravated circumstances). The penalties for this offense are stiff:
- Up to five years in prison
- Up to a $5,000 fine
- Mandatory license revocation for one to five years
- Zero possibility that the court will suspend, defer, or withhold adjudication of guilt
- Possible seizure of vehicle [Fl. St. § 316.1935(7) states: “Any motor vehicle involved in a violation of this section is deemed to be contraband, which may be seized by a law enforcement agency and is subject to forfeiture.”]
When might penalties increase for fleeing police?
Several aggravated circumstances may increase penalties:
- High speed: If, while attempting to elude a marked police car with lights and sirens activated, the offender drives at a high speed that “demonstrates a wanton disregard for the safety of persons or property,” the crime is a second-degree felony. The penalties increase to 15 years in prison and a $10,000 fine.
- Serious bodily injury or death: If the driver causes someone injury or kills someone during the act of fleeing, s/he will be charged with a first-degree felony. This means up to 30 years in prison (with a mandatory minimum of three years), as well as other penalties.
What are some common defenses to fleeing police in Florida?
You can employ various defenses to fight charges of attempting to elude a police officer. For instance, perhaps your failure to stop was not willful; maybe there were other circumstances (like rushing your child to the hospital) that justified not stopping. Or maybe you did not know it was a police officer trying to stop you because his lights and sirens were not on.
The defense that will work best for you case depends on your unique circumstances. We can help. Our felony defense attorneys can offer you counsel, represent you in court, and attempt to get the charges dropped or penalties reduced.
Contact a lawyer at Goldman Wetzel to discuss your charges and how best to approach them.