Last updated on February 8, 2024

Is Eluding the Police a Felony in Michigan?

Police are constantly put into dangerous positions in the pursuit of their work. Consequently, anything that creates more danger to the public and the officers when making traffic stops, making an arrest, or serving a warrant is taken very seriously. Fleeing or eluding a police officer is not only dangerous but is considered a felony offense. If you have been charged with fleeing and eluding in Michigan, it is crucial to get the help of a skilled Michigan criminal defense lawyer to ensure that your legal rights are being protected. 

At Michigan Defense Law, our lawyers can provide you with the guidance and representation you need in navigating the complexities of fleeing and eluding charges. Our lawyers understand Michigan’s laws and we can work tirelessly to build a strong defense tailored to your unique situation. Contact us today at (248) 451-2200 to schedule a consultation and let us advocate for your rights and future.

Fleeing and Eluding Michigan

People typically face charges of fleeing and eluding in one of two scenarios. First, they might have inadvertently misunderstood or misinterpreted the police officer’s instructions. Second, out of fear, they might have deliberately attempted to escape. Regardless of intention, one might still face a felony charge for fleeing and eluding.

In Michigan, if a driver receives a signal from a police officer instructing them to stop their vehicle, they must comply. They cannot speed up, switch off their lights, or try to escape. However, this regulation applies only if the officer is in uniform and their vehicle is distinctly recognizable as an official police vehicle. If the signaling officer lacks a uniform or isn’t in a recognizable police vehicle, drivers aren’t obligated to stop.

Disregarding a legitimate order from a police officer is a grave offense. Depending on the outcomes of the subsequent police pursuit, there are four specific degrees of fleeing and eluding charges:

  • First-degree charge applies if the incident results in death.
  • Second-degree charges can be imposed if serious injuries occur or if the individual has prior convictions for fleeing.
  • A third-degree charge arises if there’s a collision or if the act occurred in areas with speed limits below 35 mph.
  • If none of the above scenarios apply but fleeing and eluding is still evident, a fourth-degree charge is imposed.

If you’re facing charges related to fleeing and eluding in Michigan, having the right defense lawyer by your side can make all the difference. At Michigan Defense Law, our skilled Michigan criminal defense lawyers can meticulously examine the details of your case, challenge evidence, and develop a strong defense strategy to protect your rights and secure the best possible outcome for your situation. Contact us today to secure the strong defense you need to protect your future.

What is Considered Fleeing and Eluding Police in Michigan?

Under Michigan Vehicle Code MCL 257.602a or Michigan Penal Code MCL 750.479a, if you fail to stop or obey a law enforcement officer, you may be charged with felony fleeing and eluding. 

Michigan law requires that anyone directed by law enforcement through hand signals, audible signals, voice commands, lights, sirens, or other visual or audible signs must come to a stop and stay there until directed to go. Unfortunately, there are times when an individual may not understand what they are being directed to do, feel unsafe about stopping, or misinterpret signs that they are free to go. In this case, they may be charged with a serious criminal charge because of a misunderstanding or misinterpretation. 

How Intent Affects a Fleeing and Eluding Conviction

Fleeing and eluding do not have to involve high-speed chases with law enforcement in pursuit. You can be charged with fleeing and eluding even if that was not your intention but you acted willfully.

Fleeing and eluding is considered a crime of general intent. A general intent crime means that the prosecution does not have to prove that you intended to flee law enforcement, only that you acted willfully. This means that even if you didn’t mean to elude the police, it is possible that you can still be charged and convicted of fleeing and eluding. 

Charges will depend upon the circumstances surrounding the incident, with 4th degree fleeing and eluding the least serious and 1st degree the most serious. Degrees vary depending on what the speed limit is where your alleged offense occurred and whether the actions resulted in injury or death to anyone.  Furthermore, penalties will differ depending on if you have been charged under the Michigan motor vehicle code or penal code. Most charges come under the penal code.  A criminal conviction of fleeing and eluding under the penal code can carry up to 15 years in prison, $15,000 in fines, and possible revocation of your license. Being charged and convicted under the motor vehicle code, while still a criminal charge, can result in less severe penalties. 

Defenses Available For a Fleeing and Eluding Charge

Fortunately, there are defenses available to you if you have been charged with eluding the police in Michigan. This is when it is critical to have the skilled legal representation of an experienced Michigan criminal defense attorney on your side. If your charges cannot be dismissed entirely, they may be reduced to a lesser charge and a more favorable outcome.

Paul J. Tafelski and the experienced Michigan criminal defense lawyers at Michigan Defense Law are dedicated to the legal defense of those facing serious criminal charges. If you are facing a fleeing and eluding charge, call us at (248) 451-2200 or contact us through our online contact form to schedule a free consultation to discuss your options. 

Aspects of Fleeing and Eluding Details
Definition Failure to obey law enforcement directives can result in felony fleeing and eluding charges under Michigan laws.
Intent and Conviction Fleeing and eluding charges focus on willful actions, not necessarily intention to evade police. It’s a crime of general intent.
Charges and Degrees Charges vary by incident circumstances. Degrees range from 4th to 1st degree based on factors like speed limits and injuries. Penalties differ for motor vehicle and penal code charges.
Available Defenses Defenses are available for eluding charges in Michigan. Skilled legal representation can lead to dismissal or reduced charges.

Posted in: Criminal Defense
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