Attempting to flee a law enforcement officer during a traffic stop is a felony offense known as fleeing to elude. If the suspect used their vehicle or caused serious bodily injury or death while escaping, they can be charged with aggravated fleeing to elude. Alleged perpetrators could be facing third-degree, second-degree, or first-degree felony charges that can result in decades in prison and thousands of dollars in fines.
If you or a loved one has been charged with fleeing to elude, contact The Law Place immediately. We can offer you top-notch legal protection against whatever charges you are facing. The consequences for this type of crime are severe, and you’re going to need all the help you can get.
The Law Place offers a free consultation for any potential clients across many practice areas. Our firm’s lawyers will explain our fee structure, so there are no surprise costs for our representation. We will also go over potential strategies for your defense and what penalties you could be facing if you are convicted.
What is Aggravated Fleeing and Eluding in Florida?
According to Florida Statute 316.1935, the operator of any motor vehicle purposefully fleeing or attempting to elude a law enforcement officer has committed the felony crime of fleeing to elude. If the suspect drove recklessly, endangering themselves and others, they can be charged with the more severe crime of aggravated fleeing to elude. Essentially, trying to leave the scene of a traffic stop to avoid a lawful interaction with police is a serious felony offense.
The prosecution must meet some criteria to bring charges against individuals accused of fleeing to elude. If the following is not proven through physical evidence or witness testimony, the prosecution may not have a case:
- The incident occurred within Florida.
- The suspect initially stopped due to a lawful request from law enforcement officers and then proceeded to flee.
- Police officer(s) flashed lights and used sirens, and the suspect refused to pull over or attempted to elude the officer(s).
- After a lawful request to pull their vehicle over, the suspect attempted to flee the scene on foot or in their vehicle.
To charge suspects with the felony of aggravated fleeing to elude, a more serious crime, the prosecution must prove the following:
- In their attempt to flee from the police officer, the suspect drove recklessly or at high speed.
- Reckless driving may have led to or had the potential to cause property damage, injury, or death.
For a police officer to pull someone over in the first place, the following procedure must have been observed:
- The officer who initiated the traffic stop must have been operating a clearly marked law enforcement vehicle.
- Sirens and lights must have been activated, flashing, and clearly visible/audible.
- The officer must have been dressed in an official uniform, not in plain clothes.
If prosecutors and law enforcement officials can’t prove that the above criteria were met, they may not be able to press charges for fleeing to elude or aggravated fleeing to elude.
Is Aggravated Fleeing to Elude a Felony in Florida?
Fleeing to elude is a felony crime that can carry especially severe punishments depending on the nature of the incident. The following schedule outlines how charges of fleeing to elude are filed:
When someone is fleeing or attempting to elude a law enforcement officer during or after a traffic stop, either on foot or in their vehicle, they can be charged with a third-degree felony.
If, while fleeing or attempting to elude a law enforcement officer, the suspect recklessly operates their vehicle in a way that endangers others, they can be charged with aggravated fleeing to elude. This is a more serious charge and is prosecuted as a second-degree felony.
If, while recklessly driving and attempting to elude a law enforcement officer, the suspect causes property damage, serious bodily injury, or death, they can be charged with a first-degree felony. This is the most serious form of aggravated fleeing to elude.
What Constitutes Reckless Driving in Florida?
According to Florida Statute 316.192, reckless driving is when a motor vehicle operator shows a “wanton disregard” for road rules and the safety of others. It is automatically considered to be reckless driving if the driver was attempting to flee a law enforcement officer in their vehicle.
Wanton disregard is considered being intentionally indifferent to the safety of other drivers, pedestrians, or property. Typically, this involves dangerous speeding or swerving that makes ensuring the safety of others nearly impossible.
What Are the Penalties for Aggravated Fleeing to Elude in Florida?
The penalties for fleeing to elude will depend on the severity of the charges against you. The following outlines what punishments you could face for all levels of felony convictions:
Third-Degree Felony Fleeing to Elude
- $5,000 fine
- 5 years in prison (maximum)
- 5 years of probation (maximum)
- Permanent felony criminal record
Second-Degree Felony Aggravated Fleeing to Elude
- $10,000 fine
- 15 years in prison (maximum)
- 15 years of probation (maximum)
- Permanent felony criminal record
First-Degree Felony Aggravated Fleeing to Elude
- $10,000 fine
- 30 years in prison (maximum)
- Probation for the remainder of life
- Permanent felony criminal record
As you can see, the penalties for felony fleeing to elude charges are extremely severe. You could be facing prison for decades, essentially ending your life as you know it.
If you or a loved one is being charged with fleeing to elude, you need to immediately contact a qualified criminal defense lawyer. The Law Place can start representing you as soon as possible and help you through the complex criminal trial process. Not only that, but we will be present for any interviews with police and prosecutors, making sure they are held to a legal standard and your rights and interests are always protected.
What If I Was Being Pulled Over by an Unmarked Vehicle in Florida?
Knowing what to do if an undercover cop pulls you over is confusing. Florida Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles (FHSMV) states that unmarked police vehicles are within their rights to stop cars violating road rules. However, they must use their lights and sirens clearly.
When exiting their vehicle, officers must be wearing something that indicates they are with an official law enforcement agency. Plainclothes officers are prohibited from enacting traffic stops except for in extreme circumstances. Police officers that are part of a specialized traffic enforcement detail must be in full uniform.
If the cop car that tried to pull you over was unmarked, didn’t have its lights flashing, or the officer was in plain clothes, you are not required to stop or stay stopped for them. You cannot be charged with fleeing to elude if police were not conducting the traffic stop according to Florida law and procedures.
Why Am I Being Charged With Leaving the Scene of an Accident?
If you caused an accident while fleeing to elude law enforcement, your charges could be upgraded to a higher degree of felony. If you left or continued fleeing after the accident occurred, you can be charged with leaving the scene of an accident.
This is a serious criminal charge. Florida Statute 316.062 states that anyone involved in an accident must remain at the scene for law enforcement to arrive and take their details. Failure to do so can further upgrade your aggravated fleeing to elude charges to a felony in the first degree. If the accident resulted in serious bodily injury or death of another person, it is much more likely that you face serious felony charges.
In Florida, every driver has a duty of care to provide to other drivers and pedestrians. In the event of an accident, this entails:
- Stopping your vehicle and remaining nearby the accident or at a safe distance.
- Providing your personal information, such as a driver’s license and insurance details, to the law enforcement official at the scene.
- If safely possible, providing first aid to those injured in the accident or calling emergency services as soon as you can.
Contact The Law Place if you are accused of causing an accident while fleeing to elude a law enforcement officer in Port Charlotte, Florida. We can handle complex criminal cases involving multiple charges across different practice areas and will adequately address the needs of each violation.
Will My License Be Revoked If I’m Arrested for Fleeing to Elude in Florida?
License revocation is an obvious concern for many people being charged with a felony motor vehicle violation. Most of us in Florida rely on our cars for work and our daily responsibilities.
If you have been arrested for fleeing to elude, you will not have your license automatically revoked. However, if you are convicted of the crime, you will have your license revoked. You will not be able to apply for a hardship license after being convicted of this type of crime.
Your best way to ensure you keep your license after being arrested for fleeing to elude is by hiring the best legal defense available. The Law Place can help you retain your license as well as fight the criminal charges you are facing.
Can a Fleeing to Elude Conviction Be Expunged?
Under Florida law, criminal convictions cannot be expunged from public records, including convictions for fleeing to elude. If you are convicted of the felony, you will have a permanent criminal record for the rest of your life. This can affect your job prospects and anything else that requires a criminal background check.
However, it is possible to have an arrest record expunged. If you were arrested for fleeing to elude but were not convicted or the case was dropped, then you can apply to the courts to have the arrest record erased. Expunging an arrest record is a complex legal process requiring the aid of a qualified attorney.
Also, minors who were convicted of felony crimes may be able to have their record expunged. If another person suffered serious bodily injury because of the crime, it is much more unlikely to have the conviction record expunged.
How Can a Florida Lawyer Defend Me Against Aggravated Fleeing to Elude Charges?
There are several strategies The Law Place can employ to defend you from aggravated fleeing to elude charges, including but not limited to:
- Law enforcement officials did not make it clear that they were pulling you over.
- You did not flee intentionally or willfully.
- You did not cause property damage or another person serious bodily injury or death due to willfully fleeing to elude.
- Due to road conditions or individual circumstances, you could not comply after you were ordered to stop.
- The law enforcement officer who tried to pull you over was not in a marked police vehicle.
- The law enforcement officer did not use lights or sirens to clearly indicate you were being pulled over.
- It was unsafe to pull over after you were ordered to stop.
Any defense that your legal team pursues will be rooted in the best possible outcome for your case. Contact The Law Place to schedule a free consultation where we’ll examine the specifics of the charges against you and what we can do to help.
Contact The Law Place Today!
Have you or a loved one been charged with fleeing to elude or aggravated fleeing to elude? Are you worried about a potential prison sentence and thousands of dollars in fines?
Contact The Law Place immediately to schedule a free consultation with one of our qualified felony criminal defense attorneys. A lawyer from our firm will walk you through potential defenses for the charges you face and what to expect from a criminal trial. We have over 75 years of combined experience representing clients all over Florida, including Port Charlotte, and have a proven track record of excellence across many practice areas.
Schedule your free consultation with us today and get the ball rolling on your defense.
Call The Law Place now at (941) 444-4444.