The responses for fight or flight are very deeply embedded in the human instinct, and sometimes, when we are faced with fear or danger, it’s easy to give in to the instinct to run away. The flight instinct can also be applied in situations when we fear that we will get in trouble if we get caught, especially if the law is involved. Although running from danger or potential punishment is instinctive, if you are caught running from the police, you could be charged with criminal activity—even if you were not committing a crime in the first place!
Because it’s a crime to elude or flee from the police, it’s important to understand just how these crimes are handled, and what happens if you are charged. Whenever a police officer asks you to stop your vehicle, pull over to the side of the road, or stop walking, your refusal to comply can be considered eluding the police officer, and you can be charged with a criminal offense. If you run, or drive away, or try to escape in any other way, and you are caught, the penalties can be severe.
If you are caught running from the police, the prosecution can use your flight against you, typically as evidence that you knew you were guilty. Although innocent people sometimes run from the cops, it is a common prosecution tactic to insinuate guilt as a motivator for flight. In reality, being approached by a police officer can be a scary scenario, especially at night, or if you are in an unfamiliar area.
Building a Defense
One of the most important factors in a “running from the cops” case is the intent of the person who is accused of eluding the police. Did you mean to run from the cops or ignore a direct order to stop? If so, this is clearly against the law. However, if the cop who approached you did so without announcing himself or herself as an officer of the law, or if it was not immediately clear that the person speaking to you was a member of law enforcement, you can use this to defend your actions.
If you feel threatened by an approaching figure, especially if the figure appears armed, and you can’t easily make out that the person is in uniform, or is holding up a badge, it’s understandable to want to remove yourself from the situation. In these cases, you can argue that you didn’t know a cop was approaching and that you did what you felt was best for your safety.
How are Charges Established?
If you are charged with eluding or fleeing the cops, the severity of your charges is largely dependent on the manner in which you fled, and if anyone was injured as a result. Cop chases are dangerous not only for the fleeing driver and the chasing cops, but also for pedestrians and other drivers who may be in the area, or who may not be able to get out of the way.
Be sure to discuss your charges with your Morristown criminal defense lawyer as soon as possible. Eluding cases can be fought, but you need an experienced attorney on your side. For a consultation, contact Scott Gorman of The Gorman Law Firm today.
Published in Categories: Criminal Defense