Eluding the police, whether in a car or on foot, is illegal in Virginia. When a person tries to flee or ignore after an officer signals to stop by verbal command, using their siren, or flashing their lights, it is considered eluding law enforcement. This act is considered a violation under Virginia Code §46.2-817 and states that eluding an officer of the law is a chargeable offense. If the person eluding law enforcement is also driving recklessly, this may carry an additional reckless driving charge. Eluding law enforcement can be considered a misdemeanor or a felony depending on a few factors, including if you endanger the welfare of others or the police.
Penalties in Virginia for Eluding the Police
When someone is convicted of eluding police in Virginia, they can face different possible penalties. If the charge is a misdemeanor, the person may be penalized with a fine of up to $2,500, in addition to up to 6 months in jail.
If the situation entails a police officer being killed, the charge escalates to a Class 4 felony and the defendant can face a penalty of up to $100,000 and a sentence ranging from 2 to 10 years. The driver can have their license suspended for a minimum of 30 days, or up to a year according to the Virginia Code §46.2-817 for an eluding offense conviction. Virginia also sets a minimum of a 90-day suspension on a driver’s license if the driver was speeding more than 20-mph over the speed limit while eluding an officer.
Eluding The Police – Felony Charge
An eluding offense can become a Class 6 felony if the eluding offense causes real danger to an officer through interruption of safe operation of the officer’s vehicle, or endangers the safety and well-being of anyone else. If a law enforcement officer dies during an attempt to elude, the charge is escalated to a Class 4 felony.
Legal Defense Against Eluding the Police
No matter the situation for a traffic violation, it is highly recommended consulting with a legal professional. Each situation is unique, and an attorney may be able to plea to the court to either lessen the charge or get them dropped completely. Here are common defenses used by legal professionals in Virginia:
- Charges have the chance to be dropped if the driver wasn’t aware of being signaled to stop by the police officer. A traffic defense lawyer may argue that the person thought they were being followed by someone else, and not a law enforcement officer
- Virginia law states that in order to receive an eluding police offense conviction, the person must have eluded the police with full knowledge on purpose. When prosecutors are pursuing this charge, they must prove this fact in court. If a driver was not aware of the police officer signaling to stop, it is possible to defend against the charge.
- If the driver didn’t think the office was a police officer, the eluding charge may be overturned. For example, if the car pursuing you was an unmarked car not using sirens or lights in signaling to stop.
Work With Kermit Monge Law
If you or someone you know is facing an eluding the police charge, or any other traffic violation, contact the Law Offices of Kermit A. Monge, PLLC. The practicing traffic defense attorneys in our offense have extensive courtroom knowledge, and are ready to talk with you and prepare a legal strategy for your case. Contact our office by calling 571.559.7229 or request a consultation online today.