Have you been charged with fleeing and eluding the police in Florida? There could be several reasons this might happen without any criminal intent on your part. Upon reaching your destination, you discover your transgression, but you’re charged regardless of your explanation.
To better understand what the consequences entail, we have listed a description below together with the possible defenses that could help you escape prosecution.
What is Fleeing and Eluding Police in Florida?
You never in your wildest dreams thought you could be charged with a crime on your way to an important meeting, the grocery store, or even during your morning commute. If you’re wondering what defines this situation, “Fleeing and Eluding Florida” is described under Section 316.1935 of the Florida Statutes.
Under the law, it’s a crime for a driver to knowingly or willfully refuse to stop their vehicle in compliance with a police officer’s order.
This offense consists of three primary elements:
- The accused was driving a motor vehicle on a road or highway in Florida;
- An authorized police officer instructed the defendant to stop or remain stationary; and
- The accused, knowing that they’ve been ordered to stop by an officer, (a) deliberately disregarded the instruction and failed to stop the vehicle in adherence to the order, or (b) having stopped the car, intentionally fled to evade the officer.
In addition to the above description, Florida’s fleeing and eluding law has a few subtypes that could be regarded as aggravated offenses.
Punishments for Fleeing and Eluding the Police
Since it’s a felony, a Fleeing and Eluding sentence in the state of Florida is severe. Even first-time perpetrators could face jail or prison.***
The offense for fleeing and eluding in Florida (no aggravating circumstances), is regarded as a third-degree felony. The sentence is up to 5 years in prison or a probation period of 5 years and a $5,000 fine. A conviction will also result in a suspension of your driver’s license which for a period of 1 to 5 years;
- When fleeing and eluding while police sirens and lights are activated, a third-degree felony is imposed. A prison sentence of up to 5 years can be enforced or a probation period of 5 years. A $5,000 fine is levied together with the ruling. The suspension of your driver’s license for a period of 1 to 5 years is also mandatory;
- Fleeing and eluding when sirens and lights were activated, and high-speed or reckless driving was detected is regarded as a second-degree felony. This carries a penalty of up to 15 years in prison or a probation period of 15 years. A $10,000 fine is enforced together with mandatory suspension of your driver’s license for 1 to 5 years;
- A first-degree felony for fleeing and eluding in Florida occurs when sirens and lights are activated, and high-speed or reckless driving causes serious bodily injury or death. A sentence of up to 30 years in prison or 30 years of probation is imposed. A fine of $10,000 is also added together with a driver’s license suspension ranging from 1 to 5 years. If convicted, a court is obligated to issue a minimum sentence of 3 years imprisonment.
Defending Yourself to the Jury
When defending yourself in a fleeing or eluding case in Florida, the following situations should be reviewed for any allegations that can be argued:
- If the instruction to stop was relayed clearly;
- Whether the defendant was aware that there was an order to stop;
- Whether evasion was willful or if there were circumstances which prevented the defendant from obeying the order;
- Was the officer in a marked law enforcement vehicle (if charged with a felony under § 316.1935(2)); and
- Were the officer’s lights and sirens activated (if charged with a felony under § 316.1935(2))?
If you’re accused of, investigated for, or charged with fleeing and eluding in Florida, you should hire a skillful criminal defense attorney from Thomas C. Grajek’s law firm.
Looking for Someone to Assist Your Fleeing and Eluding Police Case?
If you’ve been arrested for this offense in Florida, you need a concrete defense to challenge the charges or have them reduced. Contact us today for a free consultation. We can also help you with other types of cases.
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Jury Instruction for Fleeing and Eluding Police in Florida FAQs
How long will you go to jail for evading the police?
Depending on whether there were aggravating circumstances, the penalty may range from 5 years for a third-degree felony to 30 years for a first-degree felony. This includes a mandatory driver’s license suspension for 1 to 5 years.
What makes evading a felony?
It becomes a felony when the police officer has indicated to you that you should stop. This could be communicated via hand signal or by the officer’s lights and siren.
How long does the state’s attorney have to file charges for fleeing and eluding police in Florida?
In Florida, the state has 175 days to file charges for a felony.