Reviewing the Type of Police Pursuit
The District Attorney's office in the Van Nuys court has the policy to go to prison if you're convicted of an evading arrest case. They hate when they see those helicopter chases on the freeway – all the danger when the police pursue people. The media picks it up.
That makes them very angry, and they're going to try to send anybody who has a real legitimate evading case, where it's a long, dangerous pursuit – they're going to try to send that person to prison.
Related General Information:
California Vehicle Code 2800.1 – Evading a Police Officer
California Vehicle Code 2800.2 – Reckless Evading a Police Officer
California Vehicle Code 2800.3 – Evading a Police Officer Causing Injury or Death
California Penal Code 148(a)(1) – Resisting Arrest
So, what my job is is if they've got the goods on the client as far as an evading case goes, I have to show them that it's not one of the typical evading cases where the client deserves to go to prison.
In other words, the shorter the pursuit, the better when it comes to these evading cases. If we can show that it's a very short pursuit and only lasted a mile, there was no dangerous driving, no high speeds, no accidents, and not many blowing red lights.
If it's late at night and there's nobody out on the streets, that would be a better argument than if there's a bunch of traffic and the person's weaving in and out of traffic at high speeds, being chased by the police. You'll see now these evading cases have just taken on a life of their own. The police are breaking off many pursuits because what's happening in the pursuits is going on, and somehow someone is being hurt.
Either the person driving the car is killing somebody, the police are becoming involved in an accident, and someone is passing away or getting seriously injured. Then there's a huge lawsuit, and the county has to defend it and pay out thousands and thousands of dollars.
So, these evading cases are serious political business in San Fernando because there are many people here – 17 million-plus. A huge metropolis. So, if you get one of these cases in the Van Nuys court, expect the prosecutors to come down hard on you, and that's where you need a great defense attorney who can mitigate and show that your case is an aberration. It's not going to happen again, and it's not what the prosecutors are used to prosecute, therefore, the defendant shouldn't' be looking at many years in prison.
What Determines Misdemeanor or Felony Evading Arrest?
If you choose between a felony and a misdemeanor when evading arrest in California, you clearly would rather deal with a misdemeanor case. A felony evading arrest will usually carry prison time, real prison time. It's one of those offenses where they send you to prison if you are convicted of it.
So, all of these people you see on the news with helicopters involved, prosecutors and judges hate that, and they do everything to put that person in prison for as long as possible.
When you discuss the dividing line between felony and misdemeanor evading, you're talking about many factors. First off, if you run more than one light, technically, they can probably charge you with a felony.
But, if it's a short chase, there's no one in danger, no other pedestrians, no other cars around, you get out of the car very quickly and run away, for example, they're probably not going to charge that as a felony, and if they do, a lot of times I can get that reduced down to a misdemeanor.
Another defense to felony evading arrest is if you can claim that you didn't see the police were chasing you, you didn't see the lights or hear the sirens. Sometimes they don't put the lights and siren on right away. It's not fair if a person doesn't see them following them.
Usually, where I see these cases get set up in the San Fernando Valley is when someone is going real fast, like 90 or 100 miles an hour on the freeway, the police start chasing them, and they don't realize for quite some time that the police are actually behind them because they're going so fast.
So, in that scenario, you may well argue that it is not an evading case if once they determine that the police are behind them, they stop the car, pull over and cooperate. Our Los Angeles criminal defense lawyers will review the laws below to give readers a better understanding of evading arrest.
Evading Police in a Vehicle – Vehicle Code 2800.1 VC
California Vehicle Code 2800.1 VC makes it a crime to evade a police officer in a vehicle, described as willfully fleeing police when they are pursuing you in a car or on a bicycle. This statute is usually charged as a misdemeanor and carries up to one year in jail and a fine of up to $1,000. To be convicted of violating VC 2800.1, the prosecution must prove you:
- Willfully fled or attempted to elude a police officer in a motor vehicle, and
- There was a visible lighted red lamp on the police vehicle,
- You saw, or should have reasonably seen the lighted red lamp,
- The police vehicle was visibly marked, and
- The police officer was wearing a distinct uniform.
A common defense for an evading police charge is to make a reasonable argument there was no specific intent to evade them. Readers should note the prosecutor has the burden to prove all the elements of the crime.
Felony Reckless Evading – Vehicle Code 2800.2 VC
California Vehicle Code 2800.2 VC defines felony reckless evading as fleeing police officers in a vehicle while driving with a willful disregard for the safety of others or property. Put, “felony reckless evading” means you ran from law enforcement in your car and drove in a severely reckless manner while attempting to escape. To drive with a wanton disregard for safety means you:
- Knew your behavior posed a risk of harm, and;
- Intentionally and deliberately ignored the risk, and;
- Drove your vehicle in a manner showing;
- That you had no regard for the safety of others.
This crucial factor distinguishes a VC 2800.1 misdemeanor evading police from the more severe VC 2800.2 felony reckless evading case. Despite the name “felony reckless evading,” this type of charge is a “wobbler” that can be charged as a misdemeanor or felony crime. If convicted of reckless evading as a felony offense, the penalties include:
- 16 months, two years, or three years in a California state prison;
- A maximum up to $10,000;
- Formal felony probation.
Further, a VC 2800.2 conviction typically results in a driver's license suspension and revocation, and the vehicle can be impounded for up to 30 days. The related crimes include evading causing injury or death under California Vehicle Code 2800.3 VC, reckless driving under Vehicle Code 23103 VC, and resisting arrest under Penal Code 148(a) PC.
Level of Danger in Evading Police Cases
But dangerousness is what the prosecutors and judges are looking at deciding if it will be a felony or a misdemeanor evading case. Suppose someone is very dangerous traveling fast, running red lights. In that case, there are many people out, pedestrians and cars, they're always going to charge that case as a felony, and they're always going to be looking at putting that person in prison for as long as possible.
So, suppose you or a loved one is charged with a felony or misdemeanor evading — even a misdemeanor evading, you can get custody time. In that case, you could be thrown in county jail and might also lose your driver's license. This means you're going to want an attorney like me who's been doing this for almost 30 years as a defense attorney, fighting for people like you.
Sometimes there's more than meets the eye. Sometimes the police and prosecutors only have half of the story, so it's up to me, as your defense attorney, to tell the other half of the story.
So, you must take the first step now. Pick up the phone and ask for a meeting with Ron Hedding. Let's sit down in the privacy of my office and talk about what happened and why it happened. Let's talk about whether anyone was injured or whether not there were any safety concerns.
We have to get into all of the details of what happened so we can adequately defend you so you can end up with the best possible result. Pick up the phone now. I stand at the ready to help mitigate the case and protect your rights, your future, and your freedom. Hedding Law Firm is based in Los Angeles County.
Determine the Best Strategy in Evading Police Case
So, what I have you do on an evading case in Van Nuys Courthouse is you come in and talk to me. We're going to figure out who the prosecutor and judge are in charge of your case, what their tendencies are, and what things can make them consider a different sentence than prison?
How can we get you probation? Can we get character letters – letters from your job, people who know you? What other things can we bear that show that this is one of those cases that should be outside the typical prison sentence to an evading case?
Another thing I've seen is I've had people who were charged with evading cases, and they missed them. Either they got away on foot, or they got away in a vehicle. Now the police have the job of proving that it was the person driving the car who is responsible for the evading case in Van Nuys, and the way they prove that is they are going to need somebody to identify the person.
Either identify them while they were driving, which is more difficult because you get a minimal look at the person because you only see their head while they're driving, depending on how dark it was, whether they had tinted windows, etc., that's going to be a big determiner there. Another way they can try to identify them is by placing them if they go on foot and they're able to see them outside their car, and the police come in and testify that that's the guy. They're able to pick him out of a line-up, pick him out of a photo line-up, and then they can try to make their case for the evading.
Of course, other circumstantial evidence that a person is the one driving the car is if the car is their car – if it's registered to them. If it's a single male and has some general description that matches the person, there are different ways to identify someone in an evading case and determine whether you could file your claim in front of a jury. We're going to need to see all the evidence the prosecutors have.
Retain a Criminal Lawyer
I sit down with the client. We talk about it, and we make an informed, common-sense decision about whether this is a case we can win or not. So, what I have you do – whether we're going to resolve the issue by way of a negotiated plea or a trial – I have you come into the office.
We sit down and talk about it. We put all the facts on the table. We start to make some strategic decisions on precisely what we're going to do moving forward – whether we're going to fight this evading case and let a jury decide the case or whether it's something I need to go to the prosecutor and judge, get a mitigation package together and show them what you're all about.
Could you give them your version of the events? Explain to them what happened so we can get this case resolved, protect your rights, your freedom, and your reputation, and gets you out of the criminal justice system as fast as possible. Contact the Hedding Law Firm for help.