When is Fleeing and Eluding a Felony?
Fleeing and eluding may sound like a complicated criminal charge, but this is just a fancy phrase for a car chase with the police. Although car chases can be fun Hollywood entertainment, being convicted of this crime is a serious matter that can result in steep fines and long jail sentences.
Here is what you should know about felony fleeing and eluding.
What is Fleeing and Eluding?
Fleeing and eluding occurs when a driver does not pull over when a police officer flashes their lights and siren or engages in other maneuvers to avoid the officer.
Other actions that can constitute fleeing and eluding include:
- Speeding up to try to outrun the police officer
- Going down a side road and turning off your headlights in hopes the police won’t find you
- Taking evasive measures, such as by weaving in and out of traffic.
Oklahoma Statute § 21-504A requires that a police officer provide both a visual and an audio signal. Appropriate signals could include flashing lights, honking the car horn, utilizing a bullhorn, or sounding the siren. However, if only one signal is used, it can be sufficient for purposes of this statute, so long as the signal is sufficient for the driver to understand he or she is supposed to pull over.
This statute does not just apply to drivers who attempt to evade the police. Sheriffs, highway patrol officers, and state game rangers may also utilize a visual and audio signal to pull over a driver, who will face the same penalties for attempting to flee or elude an officer.
It’s important to note that only the driver can be charged with this crime – passengers in the car will not be charged with fleeing and eluding. However, the passenger may be guilting of aiding and abetting, depending on whether or not they provided encouragement, assistance, or directions to the driver during the car chase.
Felony Fleeing and Eluding
In Oklahoma, fleeing and eluding a law enforcement officer can amount to a felony if the driver endangered or caused great bodily injury to someone else.
Great bodily injury typically refers to injuries that carry significant risk of:
- Serious, permanent disfiguration, or
- Serious, permanent impairment of a bodily function, member, or organ.
Someone who is convicted of felony fleeing and eluding may have to pay a fine ranging from $500 to $5,000 and can spend between one and five years in jail.
In addition to specific criminal penalties related to fleeing and eluding charges, convicted felons may face a number of additional penalties. These can include:
- Loss of their driver’s license
- Loss of professional license, including medical, dental, or law licenses, and
- Inability to vote or bear arms for a period of time following incarceration.
Misdemeanor Fleeing and Eluding
If actions amounting to fleeing and eluding are not serious enough for felony charges, it’s still possible to be charged with a misdemeanor.
First time offenders who do not endanger or cause bodily harm to others while eluding an officer may only be liable for a misdemeanor charge. This can amount to a fine that can range from $100 to $2,000, as well as up to one year in jail. However, repeat offenders may be subject to more serious felony charges, even if their actions do not endanger others.
Other Offenses Commonly Associated with Felony Fleeing and Eluding
While fleeing and eluding charges are sometimes brought on their own, there are a host of additional crimes that are often associated with fleeing and eluding.
This charge may be brought in conjunction with DUI or driving under the influence charges, if the driver attempts to evade police officers. This is one of the more serious crimes fleeing and eluding might be tacked onto. Additionally, if the driver does injury the passenger, a pedestrian, or causes a car accident, he or she might face serious felony assault and battery charges.
On the other end of the spectrum, if a driver is attempting to evade an officer and runs a red light, speeds, or disobeys other traffic laws, he or she might find themselves hit with a number of traffic fines they must pay, in addition to more serious criminal charges.
Contact an Experienced Oklahoma Criminal Defense Attorney
If you are facing fleeing and eluding charges, you do not need to handle them alone! Due to the serious nature of these charges, and the potential penalties, it’s important to have an experienced criminal defense attorney in your corner, helping you each step of the way. To schedule a free consultation and learn about your options in and out of court, please contact us today.
This article is for informational purposes only. It does not provide legal advice, nor does it form an attorney-client relationship.