Although the charge of fleeing from police doesn’t seem like it has serious implications, the truth is that is considered very serious by the state and will be charged as a felony. Whether it is on foot, or more commonly, in a motor vehicle, if you try to evade the police for any reason, you will be facing these charges as well as any other charges for what the police were pursuing you for in the first place. If anyone, be it civilian or the officer, was also injured or killed during the case, the punishment for fleeing the police charges will also be much harsher.
While fleeing the police is the common name for the charge, often you will hear the courts call it fleeing a peace officer. The term peace officer actually extends above just police officer or federal agents, but also includes several other facets of law enforcement as well. One notable example is park rangers or Fish and Wildlife officials. If you flee from these officers for whatever reason, you can then be arrested and charged with fleeing from the police.
What Constitutes as Fleeing?
While “fleeing” sounds pretty straight-forward, and because some have argued that they weren’t actually fleeing, the law has made it so they term covers a broad spectrum. Whether you are in a car or on foot, if you do not respond to officers, it is considered fleeing. This also extends to any motorized vehicles from off-road vehicles like ATVs and snowmobiles to boats and even motorized scooters. Furthermore, if you are in a car and make efforts like increasing speed or turning off lights, these evasive measures will be considered as fleeing from the police.
How Serious are the Punishments?
Even if you have just a momentary lapse in judgment for a few seconds, those few seconds where you fled from police or any other peace officers will result in a felony charge. This can come with a maximum of three years in prison as well as a maximum fine of $5,000. If you only fled for just a short period before surrendering, often the judge will go easier on you. However, that will not change the felony charge that will show up on background checks and needs to be disclosed to future employers.
If an injury resulted from the chase, this will make the penalties go up to as high as seven years of incarceration as well as a maximum $14,000 fine. This maximum will only be hit if the injuries constitute as “great bodily harm” that will result in permanent injury. Furthermore, this also opens you up to personal injury suits from the injured party.
Unfortunately, if death occurred from the chase, then you are looking at punishment that is akin to murder charges. If death occurred, then the maximum punishment is raised to 40 years of prison time and $80,000 in fines. Furthermore, you can also be charged with murder if intentional or manslaughter if it was not intentional, which come with their own set of punishments that can be added on top of the charge of fleeing from the police.
However, if you did not injure anyone in the case, other charges will often be tacked on to fleeing from the police. Most commonly, obstruction of justice is added on because you were interfering with the ability of the officer to do their duty. However, this is a misdemeanor charge with another small fine and a maximum 90-day sentence.
Fleeing from the police seems like a relatively small charge, but as you can tell from the punishments, it can become very serious, very quickly. This is why you need to make the effort to seek out a skilled attorney that is ready to fight for you. If you are charged with fleeing the police in Minnesota, contact us today to see what we can do to help protect you.
The information presented in this article is not considered legal advice. Please contact our law office to speak to an attorney about your case.