What Are Penalties for Evading Arrest in a Vehicle?

Posted by Ronald D. HeddingSep 09, 2022

Those individuals charged with felony evading under Vehicle Code Section 2800.2(a) are looking at prison.  Prosecutors and judges are very harsh regarding these types of crimes because of the danger to society. 

That includes danger to the person driving, the threat to people on the road – whether it be pedestrians or other people driving, and, of course, the threat to the police officers pursuing the vehicle.

You're typically facing a prison sentence; however, with a good criminal defense attorney, if you can bring forth some mitigating evidence, you might have a chance to avoid prison. 

One form of mitigating evidence is that you have no prior criminal record, nobody was injured, there weren't high speeds, and the chase did not last that long.  These are the factors that a prosecutor and judge will look at when evading a case.

If someone goes over 100 miles an hour, that person is hazardous to public safety.  Just like if somebody is running through multiple red lights and recklessly driving as the police are pursuing them, that person will not be looked on very favorably either.

But I have had many cases where the chase was very short; there wasn't much dangerous activity – maybe it was in the middle of the night, so there weren't that many people out on the road. Of course, this is an excellent example of the defense to possibly avoid prison.  Not only that, avoid a felony. 

There are misdemeanor evading cases, too, where the chase is very short and doesn't rise to the level of a felony, where there are multiple traffic violations, and the police and prosecutors view the case as extremely dangerous.  Our California criminal defense lawyers will look at this topic further below.

Vehicle Code 2800.2 VC - Felony Reckless Evading

California Vehicle Code 2800.2 VC covers the crime of felony reckless evading. It's described as fleeing police officers in a vehicle while driving with a willful disregard for the safety of others or property.

Vehicle Code 2800.2 VC - Felony Reckless Evading

In other words, “felony reckless evading” means you ran from police in your car and drove extremely recklessly while attempting to escape. To drive with a wanton disregard for safety means:

  • You knew your behavior was a risk of harm,
  • You deliberately ignored the risk,
  • You recklessly drove your vehicle, demonstrating that you had no regard for the safety of others.

This critical element distinguishes a VC 2800.1 misdemeanor evading police from the more severe felony reckless evading. Regardless of the name, “felony reckless evading” can be filed as either a misdemeanor or felony crime. If convicted, you are facing:

  • 16 months, two years, or three years in state prison;
  • A fine of up $10,000;
  • Formal felony probation.

A VC 2800.2 conviction typically results in a driver's license suspension and revocation, and your car could be impounded for up to 30 days. The related crimes include:

  • evading causing injury or death - Vehicle Code 2800.3 VC,
  • reckless driving - Vehicle Code 23103 VC, and
  • resisting arrest - Penal Code 148(a) PC.

Vehicle Code 2800.1 VC - Evading Police in a Vehicle

California Vehicle Code 2800.1 VC defines the crime of evading a police officer in a vehicle.  It's described as willfully fleeing police when they are pursuing you in a car or bicycle.

This law is typically 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 has to prove:

  • You willfully fled or attempted to elude police in a vehicle,
  • The police vehicle had a visible lighted red lamp,
  • You saw, or should have seen the lighted red lamp,
  • The police car was visibly marked, and
  • The officer was wearing a distinct police uniform.

A common defense strategy against evading police charges is to argue that there was no specific intent to avoid them. The prosecutor has the burden to prove all the elements of the crime beyond any reasonable doubt.

What Are the Common Mistakes?

Evading is a crime where someone does not stop for the police in their vehicle, and depending on how long the pursuit is and the dangerousness level the person involves himself with, that will typically dictate what the police are going to do after they arrest him and hand the case over to the prosecutors.  Prosecutors will listen to what the police say, but ultimately, they have the final say. 

So, the first common mistake is not getting an attorney immediately to start mitigating the circumstances if you've been arrested or charged with evading police.  You have to realize that LA County has a presumption that if you've evaded the police and the pursuit is a significant period of time, you're facing prison.  They don't like these scenarios where people on TV run away from the police.  It is hazardous to the public.

The other common mistake I see people make is not taking the evading case seriously, burying their heads, doing nothing, and hoping for the best.  When you're facing a prison sentence, you want to make sure that you take every precaution to avoid going to prison to show the prosecutors that your situation is an aberration. You weren't dangerous to the public. You will never do something like this again.

Contact a Criminal Defense Professional for Help

So, talking about what you're facing will depend on several things.  One, the facts and circumstances of your case, and two, you as a person, your criminal record, and of course, having a powerful criminal defense attorney by your side makes a huge difference.

I've been defending people for evading cases now for approximately 30 years.  I started working for the district attorney's office in East Los Angeles, then as a superior court judge in Burbank. Finally, I became a criminal defense attorney defending people like you or your loved one in the early 1990s.

Criminal Defense Professional in California

So, if you need the best, you've come to the right place.  We have you go into the office, sit down, and give me all the facts and details surrounding your case.  People are often stressed out because they don't have all the facts and details first. 

Once you do that, you can begin to design a plan for handling the case, try to avoid prison, a felony conviction, and many other problems that come with an evading conviction.

So, many times if the police do have the evidence in the evading case and can prove it, what we're looking to do is mitigate the case – get character letters, show the facts and circumstances don't rise to the level of a case where you should be going to prison where there's much dangerous activity. 

They're also going to look at the length of the chase.  The longer the chase, the longer the prison sentence.  So, if it's a lengthy chase, you'll have a tough time avoiding prison.

The bottom line is, if you want the best result, you've got to get the best attorney.  You've come to the right place.  Pick up the phone now.  Ask for a meeting with Ron Hedding.  I stand at the ready to help you. The Hedding Law Firm provides a free case consultation by phone, or you can fill out the contact form.