Evading a Police Officer

Being convicted of evading a police officer in California can result in jail time as well as significant expenses, including fines and attorney fees. Although a criminal running from the police on a reality show may be entertaining for viewers, the fact is that evading a police officer is a serious crime. In addition, a person can be charged with evading arrest even though it may not appear they were attempting to allude the police.
California Law

According to California Vehicle Code Section 2800.1, any person who operates a motor vehicle with the intent to evade, willfully flee or attempt to elude a police officer in a motor vehicle or on a bicycle maybe found guilty of a misdemeanor. Conviction could lead to imprisonment for not more than one year as long as certain conditions are met. Conditions include:

  • One red lamp is lit on the police vehicle and the red lamp is visible from the front;
  • The police officer is sounding a siren as deemed reasonably necessary; or, if the officer is on a bicycle, he gives verbal command to stop, sounds a horn of at least 115 decibels or makes a hand motion for the person charged to stop;
  • The person charged with evading the officer should reasonably have seen the red lamp or hand signal, or heard the horn or verbal warning;
  • The police officer is in a marked vehicle or bicycle;
  • The police officer is wearing a distinctive uniform and can demonstrate they are a police officer;

Defenses to Evading a Police Officer

Because all these conditions must be met for a person to be convicted of evading a police officer, there are several defenses available to those who are charged with the crime. Not only must the vehicle display a red lamp and use a siren, it must be a marked police car. This means that it must have a logo, insignia or other easy to recognize markings that make it clear that the vehicle was a police car. The same is true if someone is charged with evading a police officer on a bicycle. In addition, the prosecution must prove that the person charged intended to evade the officer. There are extenuating circumstances when a driver may not pull over immediately, including someone distracted by conversation or talking on a cell phone. Women driving alone may not want to stop on a secluded road and may choose to wait until they are in a well-lit area before pulling over.

Obtaining Bail

After someone is charged with evading a police officer, they are often provided bail. Amounts for bail vary as each county in California sets their own terms for release. In some counties, the average bail for fleeing a police officer is $1,000, while in other counties it can be as high as $25,000. If the police determine there was a wanton disregard for safety, which often happens after high-speed chases, the person could be charged with a felony and bail could be as high as $50,000.

Being charged with fleeing a police officer is a serious crime in California, and those who are arrested for the crime may need to seek the services of a qualified bail bond company.

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