Common Defenses to Eluding Police Charges

  • Posted on: Apr 20 2023
  • By:

In Virginia, eluding the police occurs when a person disregards a police officer’s signal to stop. The crime of eluding the police can be either a misdemeanor or a felony, and it is punishable by fines, jail, and a mandatory license suspension. In this article, we examine common defenses to evading arrest charges in Virginia. 

What is Eluding the Police? 

In Virginia, the offense of eluding the police occurs when:

  • A person drives a motor vehicle in willful and wanton disregard for a law enforcement officer’s visual or audio signal to stop, or
  • A person attempts to elude or escape a police officer after being signaled to pull over. 

To prove that a person violated this law, the prosecutor must demonstrate that the defendant was aware of the officer’s signal or lights, knew that the person signaling him or her to stop was a law enforcement officer, and failed to obey the signal by continuing to drive.

Defenses to an Eluding the Police Charge

Depending on the circumstances, there may be several defenses to an eluding the police charge available to a defendant, including: 

The person charged with eluding the police wasn’t driving the vehicle: Sometimes, a person charged with eluding an officer is not arrested on the day that he or she allegedly fled. In this situation, the person is later arrested after an officer claims that he or she was the person behind the wheel of the vehicle at the time of the alleged crime. However, an after-the-fact identification of a driver can be challenged in court. For example, several factors can influence the accuracy of an officer’s identification, including the time of day or night, the speed of the vehicles, the amount of tint on the driver’s windows, how long the officer observed the driver and the weather.

The driver didn’t intentionally elude the police: To convict an individual of eluding the police, the prosecutor must prove that the driver intentionally fled from a law enforcement officer. However, there are instances in which an officer directs a driver to pull over, but he or she fails to do so for reasons other than to flee. For example, some drivers fail to pull over after being directed to do so due to safety concerns. In addition, a driver may not be aware of law enforcement’s orders to pull over due to loud music, missing mirrors, or other factors. 

The officer failed to turn on his or her lights and sirens: Usually, an officer activates his or her vehicle’s lights and sirens when pursuing a vehicle. This alerts the driver of the pursued vehicle that he or she should pull over. However, when an officer fails to do so, then the driver has no way of knowing that he or she should pull to the side of the road. Therefore, an officer’s failure to activate the lights and sirens in his or her vehicle is a defense to an eluding the police charge in Virginia. 

Contact a Virginia Criminal Defense Lawyer 

If you have been charged with eluding the police in Virginia, you need an experienced criminal defense attorney on your side. At Walker Jones, PC, our experienced criminal defense lawyers will aggressively defend you against your criminal charge. When you come to us for assistance, we will do everything in our power to obtain a successful result in your Virginia criminal case. Please contact us today to arrange a free consultation with one of our knowledgeable attorneys.

Posted in: Criminal Defense