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 defense lawyer to ensure that your legal rights are being protected.
What is Considered Fleeing and Eluding Police in Michigan?
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.