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What can happen if I flee from the police in California?

On Behalf of | Dec 3, 2023 | Criminal Defense |

Driving off can be quite tempting when a law enforcement officer pulls you over. However, this would be a wrong move because California has a Vehicle Code § 2800.1 that prohibits drivers from lawfully evading a police officer.

So the next time the police stop you, the wise thing to do is pull over to the side of the road. Law enforcement encounters can be stressful, but the penalties for fleeing an officer are much worse.

How does Vehicle Code § 2800.1 define evading a peace officer?

An individual is only guilty under Vehicle Code § 2800.1 if they’re driving at the time of the incident and willfully try to evade a police officer while being pursued in a police car or bicycle.

The prosecution has to prove that you were pursued in a marked police vehicle. In other words, the vehicle in pursuit must have had at least one visible red light that you reasonably should have seen. Therefore, if there isn’t evidence to prove that the vehicle in pursuit was equipped with a red light that meets visibility requirements, the prosecution’s case can be weakened.

More importantly, the law enforcement officer who stopped you must have been wearing a distinguishable uniform at the time of the incident. If they were wearing plain clothes, the prosecution’s case may be weakened as well.

Please note that you won’t be found guilty if you continue to drive only because you were looking for a safe spot to pull over. That is to say that if you didn’t have the specific intent to evade the peace officer, then you should logically be found innocent.

Suppose you’re facing charges for evading a peace officer; it’s best that you enlist legal counsel. A criminal defense attorney can help you secure the best possible outcome for your circumstances.