Police officers have several tools at their disposal to alert the public of their intention to engage. When operating a motor vehicle, any individual who is being followed by a police officer should understand that the officer’s lights, siren or loudspeaker are used to indicate that the driver should pull over.
However, if the driver does not comply, or if he or she instead tries to escape the encounter, that driver could be guilty of eluding the police. Learn more about what it means to elude the police and the types of penalties for eluding the police in Virginia.
What It Means To Elude The Police In Virginia
Eluding the police can occur in many forms and is not simply restricted to instances in which a driver attempts to escape a police officer through a high-speed chase. Rather, eluding the police means that the driver, who has been signaled to pull, over fails to do so.
This could present as continuing to drive without change, or it may involve the driver interfering with the police car, veering onto side roads or speeding to get away.
The Variety Of Penalties For Elusive Behavior
The type and severity of the penalty, or penalties, that you receive for eluding the police will vary depending upon the specific details of the incident. The results of your actions on the police and the public will factor into the determination and are separate from additional laws that you may have broken in the process, such as reckless driving.
One of the most common types of penalties for eluding the police in Virginia is a fine. Those who did not engage in any other traffic violations and elected to continue driving as normal, or drivers who perhaps turned onto side roads but did not force the police to engage in a chase, may be found guilty of a Class 2 misdemeanor. The fine for this category does not exceed $1000.
However, if the driver caused damage to government or civilian property, or endangered the life of bystanders, such as by colliding with or backing into the police car or pushing bystander cars out of the way, the penalty may be more severe.
In this situation, the driver can expect the Class 2 misdemeanor to be upgraded to a Class 6 felony, which carries a more stringent punishment. The fine for this level of felony ranges up to $2500 and up to 12 months in jail.
Those who kill a police officer while eluding the police face the strictest penalties. These individuals will be charged with a Class 4 felony, which can result in a fine of up to $100,000 and between 2-10 years in prison.
Possible Jail Time
Fines are not the only type of consequence that can arise from eluding the police in Virginia; in fact, you may receive a fine in addition to other punishments.
Being ordered to pay a fine does not mean that there will be no jail time or other penalties. For the lesser misdemeanor charges of eluding the police, individuals are not typically required to serve more than a few weeks in jail; however, this could range up to 6 months in some cases.
Those who have been placed in the category of the Class 6 felony may see up to 12 months in jail. A judge or jury may determine the length of time based upon the details of the event. Prison time for the Class 4 felony typically varies between 2 to 10 years.
Suspension of the Driver’s License
No matter which category of eluding the police you end up being convicted of, you will experience at least some variation of driver’s license suspension.
The minimum suspension time is 30 days; however, if you were driving above the speed limit and forcing a police chase, and your speed was in excess of 20 miles per hour above the posted limit, this minimum suspension time is extended to 90 days.
While your license is suspended, you are not permitted to operate a motor vehicle, and some license suspension can result in revocation if you have had a suspension previously. For this reason, a charge of eluding the police can have a significant impact on your life.
Work With A Fairfax Criminal Defense Attorney
Whether you are researching options to reduce the possible penalties of your charge for eluding the police, or you believe that your case may have sufficient grounds to be dismissed, it is important to work with a legal professional who can represent you in court.
The Fairfax criminal defense attorneys at The Law Offices of Kermit A. Monge would be happy to advocate on your behalf and fight for a reduction of penalties if possible. Contact our offices today by calling 703.273.5500 or by requesting a consultation online.