In Virginia, eluding is any attempt to evade law-enforcement while driving a vehicle, or while on foot after receiving a signal or order to stop. Courts consider eluding to be a very serious offense. The reason is that courts believe a person who has chosen to flee from the law (which is a crime) is more likely to commit further crimes to avoid capture. Courts are also very concerned about the danger eluding presents to the public.
Depending on the circumstances, you can be charged with either misdemeanor or felony eluding. Misdemeanor and felony eluding have different legal elements and different punishments. Both misdemeanor and felony eluding are described in Virginia Code § 46.2–817.
Virginia Code § 46.2–817, subsection (A), defines misdemeanor eluding. To be guilty of misdemeanor eluding, the following elements must be present:
The person must have received a visible signal from a police officer to bring his vehicle to a complete stop.
The person drives such vehicle in a willful and wanton disregard of the officer's signal, or the person attempts to escape or elude the police officer whether on foot, in the vehicle, or by any other means
The subsection prescribes punishment as a Class 2 misdemeanor, which under Virginia Code § 18.2-11, is confinement in jail for not more than six months and a fine of not more than $1,000, either or both.
The elements of felony eluding are described in subsection (B) of Virginia Code § 46.2–817. To be guilty of felony eluding, the following elements must be present:
The person must have received a visible or audible signal from a police officer to bring the vehicle to a stop.
The person must then drove the vehicle in a willful and wanton disregard of the visible or audible signal from the officer to bring the motor vehicle to a stop.
The person drove the motor vehicle in a way that interfered with or endangered the operation of the police vehicle or in a way that endangered a person.
Under the subsection, felony eluding is punishable as a Class 6 felony. Under Virginia Code § 18.2-10, a Class 6 felony is punishable by imprisonment of not less than one year nor more than five years, or in the discretion of the jury or the court trying the case without a jury, confinement in jail for not more than 12 months and a fine of not more than $2,500, either or both.
The main difference between felony and misdemeanor eluding is the level of danger presented to the public. For example, if an officer attempts to stop someone on a busy street with many other cars and pedestrians, even simple speeding while eluding might be enough to constitute felony eluding. In other words, to be convicted of felony eluding you do not have to crash your car or actually injure another person. It can be enough to endanger the safety of others.
Another consequence for either felony or misdemeanor eluding is a license suspension. It's a guarantee that the DMV will suspended your license if you're convicted of felony eluding, but it's possible for the court to suspend your license for misdemeanor eluding.
Eluding police is a commonly charged crime. You need an attorney who has experience with eluding offenses and defenses. Such an attorney can make sure you get the best outcome in your case. Bryan J. Jones is committed to his clients and will develop a defense strategy tailored just for you. Contact Bryan J. Jones, LLC today.