Whether you or a loved one has been arrested, or are under investigation for fleeing and eluding, it is critical to consult with an experienced attorney as soon as possible to ensure that your rights are protected. You need the counsel of an experienced Miami fleeing and eluding attorney to guide you through the process and maximize your chances of resolving your case with a favorable outcome.

Fleeing and eluding is a serious offense. Not long ago, the Florida Legislature amended the law to provide for a minimum mandatory prison sentence of up to three (3) years for certain offenses. The Legislature also increased the maximum punishment for certain categories of fleeing and eluding.

Due to the possible severity of these charges and the stiff penalties they carry, it is extremely important to involve a criminal defense lawyer as soon as possible after an arrest.

What is Fleeing and Eluding?

The definition of fleeing and eluding can be found in Florida Statutes, Section 316.1935. The essence of the crime is exactly what it sounds like: fleeing and eluding from the police. It can be charged as a third-degree, second-degree, or third-degree felony depending on the facts and circumstances of the case.

Third-Degree Fleeing and Eluding

There are two ways the prosecutor can prove the third-degree felony of fleeing and eluding. In the first scenario, the State has to prove three elements beyond a reasonable doubt:

  1. You were operating a vehicle on a street or highway in Florida.
  2. A duly authorized law enforcement officer ordered you to stop or remain stopped.
  3. Knowing you had been ordered to stop by a duly authorized law enforcement officer, you:

a. willfully refused or failed to stop the vehicle in compliance with the order; or

b. having stopped the vehicle, you then willfully fled in an attempt to elude the officer.

In the second scenario, the prosecutor also has to prove three elements. They are:

  1. You were operating a vehicle on a street or highway in Florida.
  2. Knowing that you had been directed to stop by a duly authorized law enforcement officer, you willfully fled in a vehicle in an attempt to elude a law enforcement officer.
  3. The law enforcement officer was in an authorized law enforcement patrol vehicle with agency insignia and other jurisdictional markings prominently displayed on the vehicle and with siren and lights activated.

If you are convicted of third-degree fleeing and eluding, you will face up to five (5) years in state prison, five (5) years of probation, and a $5,000 fine.

Siren and Lights Activated with High Speed or Reckless Driving

You can be charged with a second-degree felony if during the course of the fleeing or the attempt to elude, you drove at high speed or in any manner demonstrating a wanton disregard for the safety of people or property. And if someone is seriously injured or killed in the course your alleged reckless fleeing and eluding, you can be charged with a first-degree felony.

The standard for what rises to the level of driving at a “high speed or in any manner demonstrating a wanton disregard for the safety of people or property,” is basically the same standard used to determine whether someone is guilty of reckless driving:

“Wanton” means with a conscious and intentional indifference to consequences and with knowledge that damage is likely to be done to persons or property.

Florida’s courts have been reluctant to find that a person’s driving meets this “wanton” standard based on high speed alone.  The courts look at the surrounding circumstances in each individual case—like the weather, time of day, and speed limit, for example—to decide whether the defendant’s speed was excessive enough to constitute reckless driving.

If you are convicted of second-degree fleeing and eluding, you will face a mandatory felony conviction, up to 15 years in state prison and up to 15 years of probation. You could also face a fine of up to $10,000 and a mandatory driver’s license suspension of up to five (5) years.

If you are convicted of first-degree fleeing and eluding with serious bodily injury or death, you will face a mandatory felony conviction, up to 30 years in state prison, up to 30 years of probation, a fine of up to $10,000, a mandatory driver’s license suspension of one (1) to five (5) years, and a mandatory minimum prison sentence of three (3) years.

Aggravated Fleeing and Eluding

“Aggravated fleeing and eluding” is a criminal charge that combines the crimes of “fleeing and eluding” and leaving the scene of an accident. Depending on the facts of the case, it can be charged as a second-degree or first-degree felony.

Definition of Aggravated Fleeing and Eluding

You can be charged with aggravated fleeing and eluding if:

In the course of unlawfully leaving or attempting to leave the scene of a crash, you willfully fail to stop after having been ordered to stop by a duly authorized law enforcement officer, or having stopped, you then willfully flee in an attempt to elude the officer and, as a result of the fleeing or eluding you:

    1. Cause injury to another person or cause damage to any property belonging to another person; or
    2. Cause serious bodily injury or death to another person, including any law enforcement officer involved in pursuing or otherwise attempting to stop you.

If you are convicted of aggravated fleeing and eluding involving injury or property damage, you will face a mandatory felony conviction, up to 15 years in state prison and up to 15 years of probation. You could also face a fine of up to $10,000 and a mandatory driver’s license suspension of up to five (5) years.

If you are convicted of aggravated fleeing and eluding with serious bodily injury or death, you will also face a mandatory felony conviction, up to 30 years in state prison, up to 30 years of probation, a fine of up to $10,000, a mandatory driver’s license suspension of one (1) to five (5) years, and a mandatory minimum prison sentence of three (3) years.

Defenses to a Fleeing and Eluding Charge

Possible defenses to a Fleeing and Eluding charge can include:

  • You didn’t willfully flee and elude the officer
  • You had a legal excuse for not complying with the officer’s order based upon extenuating circumstances
  • You weren’t aware that the person was a law enforcement officer
  • You weren’t aware that you were ordered to stop
  • You didn’t realize that an officer was pursuing you
  • If you’re charged with fleeing and eluding from an officer with sirens and lights activated, the officer wasn’t in an authorized law enforcement patrol vehicle, or the vehicle didn’t have the required agency insignia and other jurisdictional markings prominently displayed 

Contact an Experienced Miami Fleeing and Eluding Attorney

Over the years, our attorneys have represented many clients in fleeing and eluding cases. By taking the immediate action of hiring an experienced Miami fleeing and eluding attorney to defend yourself, you are minimizing the chances that your case will have lasting consequences for your career, personal life, and reputation. CALL US NOW for a CONFIDENTIAL CONSULTATION at (305) 538-4545, or simply take a moment to fill out our securely encrypted intake form. The additional details you provide will greatly assist us in responding to your inquiry.

Feel free to click here to learn more about our experience/qualifications and here to read reviews written by some of our former clients and their relatives.

*Due to the large number of people who contact us requesting our assistance, it is strongly suggested that you take the time to provide us with specific details regarding your case by filling out our confidential and secure intake form. The additional details you provide will greatly assist us in responding to your inquiry in a timely and appropriate manner.

IF YOU ARE MAKING A DECISION ON HIRING A LAWYER FOR A FLEEING AND ELUDING CASE, ALWAYS INVESTIGATE AN ATTORNEY’S QUALIFICATIONS TO ENSURE THEY HAVE THE EXPERIENCE AND QUALIFICATIONS TO PROPERLY DEFEND YOU.