Recently, the U.S. Marshalls recognized a Destin driver as an individual with outstanding warrants.
When the Marshalls tried to make it look like they were conducting a routine traffic stop, the man apparently knew why they were stopping him. Instead of stopping, he sped away. The Marshalls followed close behind and were able to stop the vehicle. The wanted man jumped out of his car and started running. The federal law enforcement officers caught him when he tried to climb over a fence.
As a result of his conduct, in addition to a number of other charges, like resisting arrest, the man was also charged with fleeing to elude a law enforcement officer. Under the applicable Florida law, if he is convicted of fleeing to elude, he faces up to five years in state prison and a $5,000 fine. In addition, his vehicle may be seized as contraband and be forfeited to the state.
Elements of Fleeing to Elude Law Enforcement
If you have been charged with fleeing to elude a law enforcement officer, in order for you to be convicted, the prosecution must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that:
- You were driving a vehicle on a Florida roadway.
- An authorized law enforcement officer ordered you to stop or remain stopped.
- You knew the person who ordered you to stop was an authorized law enforcement officer.
- You either willfully refused to stop your vehicle, or once your vehicle was stopped, you fled the vehicle in an attempt to elude an officer.
Some have successfully defended the charge by convincing the court that they were not fleeing, but only trying to find a safe place to pull over.
Penalties are enhanced if, in the course of fleeing, the prosecution proves beyond a reasonable doubt that you did any of the following:
- Drove recklessly or at a great rate of speed that created a danger someone would be hurt.
- Caused serious bodily injury or death to the officer or any other person.
- Fled the scene of an accident where someone was injured or killed.
- While fleeing the scene of an accident where someone was injured or killed, you had another accident where someone was injured or killed.
An enhancement could send you to prison for up to 30 years.
Possible Reduction of Charges to Disobedience to Police
Depending on the circumstances surrounding your case, your defense attorney may be able to negotiate a reduction in the charges which will also reduce the penalty imposed. Courts have allowed a Fleeing to Elude Law Enforcement charge to be reduced to a charge of Disobedience to Police, which is a second degree misdemeanor.
Elements of a Disobedience to Police charge are:
- You were operating a vehicle, riding a bicycle or walking on a public roadway, when
- You refused to comply with a lawful order of a law enforcement officer.
Penalties for second degree misdemeanors are not as harsh as for the third degree felony. You may go to the county jail for up to 60 days and be fined $500.
To learn more about how fleeing to elude can affect your case or additional charges brought against you, contact Destin Florida defense attorney John F. Greene. With 30 years of experience working with defendants in both state and federal courts Attorney Greene will review the facts of your case and, if there is a remedy for your legal issue, he will find it.
The law office of John F. Greene is located in the City of Destin and serves all those along the Emerald Coast, specifically the Destin, Crestview, DeFuniak Springs, Fort Walton Beach, Niceville and Panama City Beach areas. Contact John online or call 850-424-6833 to schedule a consultation.