In the state of Florida, making an escape in a motorized vehicle is referred to as fleeing and eluding, or fleeing to elude a law enforcement officer. Even when this crime is committed out of panic, it can still lead to harsh consequences. Common criminal penalties include fines, probation, and even prison.

If you or a loved one has been charged with fleeing and eluding, you are likely worried about what could happen next. Your freedom may be critical to your family’s survival, and you may need to avoid a conviction to keep your job. At Erika Valcarcel, Criminal Defense Lawyer, P.A., Sarasota traffic lawyer Erika Valcarcel takes protecting your freedom very seriously. Call (941) 363-7900 now to see how she can help keep your record clean.

Florida Fleeing and Eluding Laws

Simply put, fleeing and eluding is a crime that involves driving away from a police officer when they have told you to stop. This crime typically occurs during traffic stops or when an officer has stopped someone for suspicion of criminal activity. Fleeing and eluding always involves the following elements:

  • The driver of a vehicle fleeing a police officer;
  • After the driver has been told to stop by a police officer;
  • The driver fails to stop the vehicle or flees in the vehicle after being stopped

In addition to these basic components, this offense can also be accompanied by aggravating factors or actions that make the crime more serious. Common aggravating factors for fleeing and eluding include, but are not limited to:

  • The siren and lights on a police vehicle being activated
  • A high-speed chase or reckless driving
  • Someone being injured or killed as a result of fleeing and eluding

Penalties for Fleeing and Eluding

The severity of the consequences for fleeing and eluding depend on the circumstances surrounding the crime. If an aggravating factor is present, the punishments may be more severe. Common criminal penalties for fleeing and eluding are:

  • Fleeing and Eluding (base offense) and Fleeing and Eluding with Siren and Lights Activated: Up to 5 years in prison, up to 5 years of probation, up to $5,000 in fines, between 1 and 5 years of driver’s license suspension
  • Fleeing and Eluding including High Speed or Reckless Driving: Up to 15 years in prison, up to 15 years on probation, up to $10,000 in fines, between 1 and 5 years of driver’s license suspension
  • Fleeing and Eluding Resulting in Serious Injury or Death: Up to 30 years in prison, up to 30 years on probation, up to $10,000 in fines, between 1 and 5 years of driver’s license suspension

There are also collateral consequences associated with fleeing and eluding that will haunt you for the rest of your life. Finding a job may be all but impossible, as employers are not fond of hiring someone with a criminal record. Continuing your education may also be difficult. While most colleges and universities do not perform background checks, they do vet students before admitting them.

Defenses Against Eluding & Fleeing Charges

In the court of law, several defenses can be used to get your charges thrown out. One of the most common legal strategies in fleeing and eluding cases involves rights violations. If you were physically abused or made to fear for your life, it is understandable that you drove away in fear. In order to get a conviction, the prosecution must prove that you were told to stop by a police officer. Proving that you were not told to stop or that you simply did not hear the command can lead to your charges being dismissed. Regardless of the defense used, a skilled attorney is essential for making a compelling case.

Call Sarasota Traffic Lawyer Erika Valcarcel Today

Fleeing and eluding is a crime that can be used to punish people unfairly. You may feel as though you have been falsely accused or that you are being punished harshly for a minor crime. Sarasota traffic lawyer Erika Valcarcel understands the distress this charge can cause. With time spent on both sides of the courtroom, attorney Valcarcel can select the right defense for your case. Call (941) 363-7900 today to see how she can help you avoid spending time behind bars.