According to Florida Statute 316.1935, it is illegal in the State of Florida to flee to elude a law enforcement officer. It is considered to be a very serious criminal offense, and, if convicted, you could face felony charges. Things get even more serious if you flee to elude a law enforcement officer in a dangerous manner. If your disregard for the safety of others results in damage to property or the serious bodily injury or death to another person, you could be charged for “aggravated fleeing to elude.”
Felony charges are extremely serious, and you will face the consequences of these charges long after your fine has been paid, and your sentence has been served. You will never be able to have them expunged or sealed. Therefore, they will always show on your criminal record.
Our law firm has 75 years of combined experience, and, as a team, we will put forward a comprehensive defense against the crime that you have been accused of. For more information, contact us today at (941) 444-4444 for a free consultation; we serve clients in Clearwater and the rest of Florida.
What Does Florida’s Fleeing to Elude Statute Say?
According to Florida Statute 316.1935, it is illegal in the State of Florida to attempt to flee to elude a law enforcement officer. A prosecutor must establish the following elements for a conviction:
- The defendant was in control of a motor vehicle on a street or highway in the State of Florida.
- The defendant stopped the motor vehicle but proceeded to willfully flee from the law enforcement officer.
- The defendant refused to stop or willfully failed to do so, thus failing to submit to the orders given by the law enforcement officer.
- The defendant willfully fled on foot or in their vehicle to elude the law enforcement officer after being ordered to stop.
In order to be charged with the more serious offense of aggravated fleeing to elude by a law enforcement officer in the State of Florida, the prosecutor must establish that:
- During the attempt of fleeing or eluding a law enforcement officer, the driver drove at a very high speed, in such a way that it would have put other people or property at risk of serious bodily injury or death.
- During the attempt of fleeing to elude a law enforcement officer, you caused damage to property, serious bodily injury, or death to another person.
The statute stipulates that for a law enforcement officer in Florida to have the authority to request a driver to stop their vehicle, the officer should:
- Be in an official patrol vehicle with all of the required jurisdictional markings clearly displayed, including their agency insignia.
- Have their sirens activated.
- Be wearing an official police uniform.
Duty of Care in the State of Florida
Duty of care is a legal term that holds a lot of weight in all Florida personal injury cases. Simply put, all Floridians must show reasonable care to others. They have a legal duty to act logically or rationally when faced with a situation that could lead to personal injury. A Florida court leaves little room for ignorance and expects that all persons should act as “any reasonable person would do under similar circumstances.”
When it comes to aggravated fleeing to elude cases, the prosecutor will argue that the defendant did not act with reasonable care and showed a wanton disregard for the safety of others. By driving recklessly, an individual puts others in harm’s way despite the foreseeable risk. In the case of leaving the scene of an accident whilst attempting to flee, the defendant will be accused of failing in their duty of care by not stopping to help.
A qualified criminal defense lawyer can explain all of the charges associated with your arrest and explore all of your legal options.
The Penalties Associated With Aggravated Fleeing to Elude in the State of Florida
Any person convicted of this traffic offense, without the added charges of aggravated fleeing to elude, will face third-degree felony charges, and at minimum, a driver would face up to five years in prison and a fine of up to $5,000. However, if whilst attempting to flee from an officer you were driving at high speed or driving recklessly, this would be increased to a second-degree felony (a level four offense). Penalties for a second-degree felony charge would include:
- Up to fifteen years in prison.
- Up to fifteen years of probation.
- A fine of up to $10,000.
- Minimum license suspension of one year.
- Maximum license suspension of five years.
- An adjudication of guilt, which will stay on your criminal record.
If your reckless actions whilst attempting to flee from law enforcement resulted in serious bodily injury or death of another person, your charges would increase to a first-degree felony (a level seven offense). Penalties for a first-degree felony charge would include:
- A three-year minimum-mandatory prison sentence.
- Up to thirty years in prison.
- Up to thirty years of probation.
- A fine of up to $10,000.
- Minimum license suspension of one year.
- Maximum license suspension of five years.
- An adjudication of guilt which will stay on your criminal record.
If you are successfully convicted of this offense, you will not be eligible for early discretionary release and must serve the full mandatory prison sentence. A qualified criminal defense attorney would be able to give you a more specific picture of the penalties that you may be facing and what options you have, which is why their support is so valuable. Contact us today for a free consultation.
Leaving the Scene of an Accident in Florida
If you caused an accident whilst attempting to flee to elude law enforcement and did not stop to speak to any attending officers or offer any assistance, you could be charged with leaving the scene of an accident. According to Florida Statute 316.062, all drivers in Florida have a duty to remain at the scene of an accident, give information, and render aid. Failure to do so would result in charges of a first-degree felony. A driver’s duties with regards to stopping at the scene of an accident include:
- Stopping at the scene of an accident they have been involved in, or as close to it as possible.
- Giving their full name and address as well as license information to any attending law enforcement officers and any victims.
- Rendering aid to any person who has been injured during the crash or offering any reasonable assistance, such as calling 911.
- Reporting the accident to the police.
A qualified lawyer can fight these charges with the right defense. You will not be able to face these serious charges alone. Contact The Law Place today for free legal advice.
The Legal Defenses Available to You in an Aggravated Fleeing to Elude Case
If you have found yourself facing charges as serious as aggravated fleeing to elude, the felony charges you are facing, even third-degree felony charges, could impact your life forever. Therefore, an adequate legal defense is essential. The right criminal defense attorney will pursue lesser charges or seek to have your charges dropped altogether. To achieve this, they will look at all the facts surrounding your stop and eventual arrest. For example, they would look to see if:
- The stop was plainly communicated to you by the law enforcement officer.
- You did not have an intent to flee.
- You were not aware that you caused any property damage or the serious bodily injury of another person.
- You were not aware that there was an active order for you to stop your vehicle.
- There were certain circumstances that meant that you were unable to stop.
- You were not aware that it was a law enforcement officer who had asked you to stop as the patrol vehicle was not clearly marked.
- The law enforcement officer was not using their lights and sirens at the time you had been ordered to stop.
- You did not feel safe to pull over in a dark area at night, so you were driving to a safe place.
There are some lesser charges associated with this crime that an experienced lawyer may pursue on your behalf. For example, under certain circumstances, you could be charged with “disobedience to police or fire department officials.” Under Florida Statute 316.072, this is a category two offense and classed as a second-degree misdemeanor rather than a more serious and damaging felony charge.
If you are facing charges of aggravated fleeing or eluding, the stakes are high. Therefore, you will need the help of the best legal defense team with knowledge of all the options available to you. The Law Place can help.
License Suspension Following an Aggravated Fleeing to Elude Conviction
License suspension is often what most drivers fear the most following a traffic offense arrest. The ability to drive is essential for many residents, and losing this ability can make life very difficult. Unfortunately, those convicted of even a third-degree felony offense cannot apply for a hardship license. The only way to retain your license is to have your charges dismissed.
With the help of the right attorney, you may be able to avoid a felony charge. In this case, you can file an application with the Bureau of Administrative Review (BAR) for a hardship license and request a hearing. If you are lucky enough to be approved, your hardship license will enable you to drive for essential purposes, such as commuting to work. However, you will need the help of the right attorney to successfully fight your charges on your behalf.
When to Hire an Attorney in Florida
If you have been arrested for fleeing or eluding a law enforcement officer, you should seek the support of a reputable law firm immediately. If you have the right lawyer on your side from the very beginning, you can increase the likelihood of achieving a positive outcome.
The aim of law enforcement is to encourage you to plead guilty before going to court. Therefore, they will use their skills to convince you that all the evidence is against you. However, there will be many options available to you, and a lawyer can support you in making the right decisions. So, don’t hesitate, get in touch with The Law Place today.
Why You Should Choose The Law Place
At The Law Place, we know how stressful charges of aggravated fleeing to elude can be, especially when there has been an accident that has resulted in serious bodily injury or death.
Our law firm will investigate your case from every angle. We will send out our own investigation team to the accident scene and gather police and witness reports to ensure that all of the facts in your case are clear. We will commit to your case and put together an aggressive and comprehensive defense strategy to put forward in court.
Our esteemed law firm has decades of combined experience in cases like yours, and our attorneys are continuously working to improve their skills knowledge so that our clients get the very best legal support. Many of the attorneys at our practice are AVVO 10.0 rated, which is the highest possible rating on the site. This is based on awards, trial skills, length of practice, associations, and trusted client reviews.
Contact The Law Place in Florida Today
Hiring a reliable and trustworthy defense team from The Law Place following an arrest for aggravated fleeing to elude could mean the difference between a first-degree felony conviction (with a lengthy prison sentence) and having your charges reduced to a lesser offense or even dropped altogether. You could save your money, your license, and your freedom.
If you are facing serious criminal charges for fleeing or eluding in Florida, The Law Place can help. Our phone lines are open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, so don’t waste any time in starting the process. One of our criminal defense lawyers is ready to take on your case.
Call us today at (941) 444-4444 for a free consultation.