Vista DUI Attorney understands that it’s normal to be overwhelmed by the court process when facing any DUI conviction. The law firm helps clients understand that every criminal case is unique and that a sentence can affect one’s career or education. Operating in the heart of Vista, CA, the firm also helps clients charged with evading a peace/police officer. We can help develop a suitable defense strategy for your case.
What are the California Laws on “Evading an Officer” Charges?
VC 2800.1 asserts that motorists can be charged for evading a peace or police officer who tries to stop them. VC 2800.1 also highlights that it’s a crime to willfully escape a peace or police officer who’s pursuing you on a bike or car. Such an offense is classified as a misdemeanor in California.
VC 2800.1 can only be applied to evading a law enforcement officer charges when certain factors are met. They include intent to evade an officer, signs of being pursued by an officer and officer wearing a unique uniform. Offenses that are similar to VC 2800.1 include VC 2800.2 (reckless driving) and VC 2800.3 (causing injury/death when evading a police officer).
Legal Definition of VC 2800.1 Violations
Misdemeanor cases on “evading a law enforcement officer” can arise due to several minutes of pursuits. The pursuits usually occur when a police/peace officer is trying to make the defendant stop. Discussed below are some of the elements that shed light in VC 2800.1 violations.
- Marking of the Officer’s Car
VC 2800.1 gives the requirements for how cars driven by peace or police officers should be labeled. The officer’s car should be marked with a siren and a red lamp that can be seen in front of the officer’s car. The arresting officer should have a third element for marking it.
- Intent to Evade
A prosecutor can build a strong VC 2800.1 case against you if you willfully drove past the officer. Willfully implies that your actions were deliberate and were on purpose. Examples of willful courses of action include taking advantage of an event, hurting someone else or breaking the law.
- Officer in Uniform
Every officer should have a distinctive uniform. A unique outfit is used by law enforcement agencies to make officers look different from the general public. The costume doesn’t need to be formal or be a full uniform.
A police officer stops a motorist operating a heavily-loaded truck. Instead of pulling over, the driver speeds off to avoid arrest. The motorist may be convicted for violating VC 2800.1 and VC 35551 (operating a heavily-loaded vehicle).
What are the Penalties for Evading a Law Enforcement Officer?
Evading a law enforcement officer in California is considered as a misdemeanor offense. You may serve up to 1-year sentencing in a county jail. Other potential penalties include misdemeanor probation and a fine not exceeding $1,000. You also risk getting your vehicle (the one used during the evasion) impounded for up to 30 days.
The judge may have your driver’s license suspended while you’re under probation. The penalties remain constant regardless of the number of police officers who pursued you. You risk having your commercial driver’s license suspended for up to one year once you violate VC 2800.1. You may permanently lose the license if you violated other California laws when evading a police officer.
What are the Procedures Involved in an “Evading a Law Enforcement Officer” Case?
“Evading a Peace Officer” cases are usually tried in criminal courts. Criminal courts and prosecutors in California follow a uniform set of procedures for such cases. The procedures are as follows:
For a case involving “evading an officer,” you’ll be taken to jail once the police officer arrests you. You may be released without attending any court hearing if the prosecutor drops the charges against you. You can also be temporarily released after posting bail or bond, which indicates that you’ll appear in court for arraignment in the future. If your bail is denied, you’ll stay in jail until the court summons you for appearance.
You have the right to a speedy trial as a defendant facing “evading an officer” charges. The arraignment is the first court appearance that you make. During this trial, the judge will read to you the charges and constitutional rights. Pleading guilty or not guilty of committing the crime may determine the course of your conviction. You can also plea a “no contest,” which means that you disagree with the criminal charges.
Your lawyer or the prosecution may file different motions once you plead that you’re not guilty of the crime. They include the motion to nullify evidence, motion to dismiss the case and motion to cancel the complaint. You can also change your plea to “no contest” or “guilty” before the case proceeds to trial. Attorneys from both sides can agree with the judge on how to resolve the matter without moving to trial.
Prosecutors use the trial stage to present facts and evidence to the courtroom in support of their allegations. Your case will be handled by a judge before being handled by a jury in a trial under the California judicial system. California Penal Code 1382 states that defendants need to be arraigned in within court 30 days (for misdemeanor offenses) or 60 days (for felony offenses) of plea or arraignment. The trial should commence within 45 days of plea or arraignment if the defendants are not in custody.
You can either expect the judge to acquit you of all the charges or penalize you for violating VC 2800.1 at the end of the trials. The court can rule that you’re not guilty of the charges due to inadequate evidence or unsatisfactory witness statements. You risk facing penalties highlighted under VC 2800.1 the jury finds you guilty.
The California Constitution entitles you to a sentencing hearing after being convicted of violating VC 2800.1. The sentencing hearing will give your attorney and the prosecution team a chance to decide on a suitable sentence. The prosecutor may suggest harsher penalties while your attorney will present arguments to justify a fair verdict. Your sentence depends on the manner in which both sides explain their cases and the judge’s ruling.
What Role Does a Defendant Play in a VC 2800.1 Case?
You have a right to a criminal defense attorney when charged for violating VC 2800.1. Your chances of surviving the criminal court process depend on how you abide by your lawyer’s instructions. Note that prosecutors use every means to extract incriminating information from you. Some of the factors that may complicate your case include your responses and the evidence/facts gathered by the prosecution against you.
The best time to enlist legal help is after being detained for violating Section 2800.1 of the California VC. You’ll be allowed to hire a lawyer of your choosing while the prosecution team builds the case. You may ask a close friend or family friend to recommend a good attorney for you at the time you’re detained. During the early stages of your case, you need to share the relevant details with your attorney to help build strong legal defenses.
The court will ask your attorney to give valid reasons on why you should be released on bail. Your bail may also be denied, raised or reduced depending on factors such as public safety, your criminal record, your community ties, and your likely hood to appear in court. The facts of the case and the seriousness of the crime may also determine your bail amount.
How Does the Prosecutor Prove “Evading an Officer” Charges?
The prosecutor must gather sufficient facts and evidence before making any allegations against you. One way of getting the evidence is by working closely with the police department that detained you. Prosecutors like to explore all angles related to a case to prove that a defendant is guilty. Here are some of the elements they can use to build a strong case.
- The Officer Pursued You in a Motor Vehicle
One way a prosecutor can prove that you’re guilty is by providing evidence showing that the officer pursued you in a motor vehicle. The evidence can be in the form of video footage recorded by the officer’s dashboard camera. The judge may consider such evidence valid if your vehicle’s plate number was captured in the footage. You may also be convicted if the date on the time stamp in the footage matches the date you committed the offense.
- The Officer Wore Uniform
One of the ways to confirm that a police officer is on duty is by identifying the uniform he/she is wearing. You may be charged for evading an officer if the officer wore a uniform and had a badge at the time the incident took place. Law enforcement officials usually wear reflector jackets at night with their role tags printed at the back for identification. A prosecutor may argue that you intentionally avoided the officer even after seeing that he/she was wearing a uniform.
- The Officer’s Vehicle Had Visible Signs
Law enforcement vehicles have sirens and distinct markings for identification purposes. You may face “evading an officer” charges if you to comply with an officer’s commands when these markings are evident. A prosecutor may provide the court with a picture of the same car used to pursue you to support the allegations made against you. The image needs to have captured the visible markings on the officer’s car to support the claims.
- You Drove a Vehicle at the Time of the Incident
You risk facing penalties for violating VC 2800.1 if a prosecutor uses facts to argue that you were driving a car when you evaded an officer. The prosecutor may present images or video footage linking you at the scene of the crime. Your arresting officer can also testify as a witness to prove that you were in the car. Your lawyer needs to build strong defenses if either of these instances is true.
What Legal Defenses are Appropriate to “Evading an Officer” Charges?
You have better chances of fair sentencing with the help of a proficient criminal defense lawyer. Your lawyer needs to be tactful when coming up with legal defenses for VC 2800.1 violations. Based on the nature of your case, the arguments may be as follows:
- Inadequate Evidence
The prosecutor needs to work with the arresting officer to gather adequate evidence required to build a case. VC 2800.1 outlines the conditions for charging an individual for evading an officer. The charges can be dropped if the prosecution team fails to provide the court with enough evidence under VC 2800.1.
Your lawyer may argue that the crucial elements for VC 2800.1 violations are missing. Such factors include distinctive marking on the officer’s vehicle, law enforcement uniform and red light on the officer’s car. The jury may consider closing the case at the pre-trial or give the prosecutor additional time to gather evidence if any of these elements are missing.
- Lack of Intent
The judge might convict you for violating VC 2800.1 if you acted out of intent. Your criminal attorney can explain that you weren't aware that a law enforcement officer tried to stop you. The lawyer can also say that you evaded the officer for your safety or you were distracted at the time the event took place. Such defenses can challenge the prosecutor's allegations against you.
- Voluntary Intoxication
As a legal defense, voluntary intoxication may apply if you were driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol. Your lawyer can use such an argument to assert that you violated VC 2800.1 when you were intoxicated. When you’re drunk, your mind isn’t in the right state for you to make rational decisions. In this case, your attorney can argue that you didn’t have any intention to evade the officer.
You may be charged for driving under drug/alcohol influence if you use the voluntary intoxication defense. A first-time DUI offense is better than charges related to VC 2800.1 violations. Instead of serving one-year in county jail, you may end up serving six months for the first time DUI charges.
Medical emergencies can act as suitable defenses for “evading an officer” charges. Your lawyer can argue that the reason you neglected the police officer is that you had a medical emergency. In this case, you may have put your safety or someone else’s safety if you stopped after seeing the officer’s signal.
- Police Misconduct
Law enforcement officers are required by the California Constitution to follow correct procedures when stopping vehicles. A police misconduct scenario may involve the police threatening you with a weapon. In this case, you may evade the officer because you feared for your life. If the officer fails to follow the correct procedure, it may be difficult for you to know that he/she wants you to get out of your car.
Offenses Related to Evading an Officer in California
The judge may convict you for other crimes after dropping your VC 2800.1 charges. The California Penal and VCs also outline several crimes that have similarities with VC 2800.1 violations. They include:
- Disturbing the Peace (Penal Code 415)
The prosecutor may convince the court to charge you for “disturbing the peace” if they can’t build a strong case for VC 2800.1 violations. Under PC 145, a “disturbing the peace” offense is punishable by a fine of up to $400. You also risk facing 90 days sentence in county jail. PC 145 charges are less degrading on your criminal record than “evading an officer” charges.
- Evading Causing Injury or Death (VC 2800.3)
Your actions may result in injury or death when you choose to elude a law enforcement officer. The judge will convict you for such an offense under California’s VC 2800.3. Your case might be treated as a wobbler (a crime punishable by up to 7 years sentencing in state prison) if your actions led to a severe bodily injury. You might face up to 10 years in state prison if you caused the death of someone else when evading an officer.
- Reckless Evading an Officer (VC 2800.2)
The judge might handle your case under VC 2800.2 if you acted recklessly when a law enforcement officer tried to stop you. In this case, recklessness would imply that you disregarded people’s property or safety. VC 2800.2 violations are usually treated as a wobbler, which means that prosecutors may charge it as a misdemeanor or felony. Penalties for the transgression include a fine of up to $10,000 or up to 3 years sentencing in state prison.
Seek Legal Representation on “Evading an Officer” Charges Near Me
Consider discussing your “evading an officer” charges confidently with a criminal defense lawyer. As a law firm situated in Vista, CA, Vista DUI attorney can help you get a peace of mind during the court process. We use a unique approach to criminal defense to assure our potential and existing clients of quality legal representation. Call our San Diego DUI lawyer (760-691-1540) today if you or your loved ones are being charged for violating VC 2800.1.