The Crime of Reckless Evading a Police Officer – VC 2800.2
In California, felony reckless evading charges are defined under Vehicle Code 2800.2 VC. It's commonly called “felony evading police” and described as fleeing police officers in a vehicle while driving with a willful disregard for the safety of other's or property.
In other words, VC 2800.2 felony reckless evading means you:
- evaded law enforcement in your car, and;
- drove the vehicle in a severely reckless and dangerous manner;
- while attempting to escape.
In Los Angeles, felony reckless allegations are serious and prosecutors will normally aggressively attempt to obtain a conviction, which carries a mandatory minimum jail sentence.
Example of felony reckless evading
An example of a California VC 2800.2 felony reckless evading includes a situation when someone commits a Penal Code 215 PC carjacking.
After police try to stop the suspect, they attempt to elude police in the vehicle by driving in a reckless manner at over 80 mph on the main streets.
Next, the driver gets off the main streets onto smaller residential streets and starts running right through several stop signs at a high speed.
Once police are finally able to stop the vehicle pursuit and arrest the driver, they can charge him with Vehicle Code 2800.2 felony reckless evading due to the fact they were recklessly evading police in a vehicle without any concern for the safety of other people.
Vehicle Code 2800.2 felony reckless evading is actually a California “wobbler” that can be charged as either a misdemeanor or felony offense.
What if someone was seriously injured during the pursuit?
In a situation where the driver caused serious bodily injury or death to someone during the police pursuit, they could be charged with “evading police causing injury or death,” which is defined under a related offense of California Vehicle Code 2800.3.
To give readers a better understanding of reckless evading charges, our Los Angeles criminal defense lawyers are providing a review below.
What is the Definition of Felony Evading Police?
California Vehicle Code 2800.2 VC defines the crime of felony reckless evading as:
- Anyone who flees or attempts to elude pursuing police officers in a vehicle while driving in a willful or wanton disregard for the safety of persons or property.
As you can see, there are two distinct factors.
The first is that you evaded police in a vehicle that violated VC 2800.1. The second is that you recklessly drove the vehicle with a willful disregard for the safety of others.
In other words, it means law enforcement must be pursuing you in their vehicle and you willfully fled with an intent to evade police.
What Factors Must Be Proven for a VC 2800.2 Conviction?
In order for the prosecutor to obtain a conviction for felony reckless evading in violation of California Vehicle Code 2800.2 VC, they must be able to prove all the “elements of the crime,” including:
- A police officer in their vehicle was pursuing your vehicle while driving;
- You willfully fled, or attempted to flee, the pursuing law enforcement vehicle;
- The police car exhibited a visible red lamp you saw, or should have seen;
- The police officer in the car was wearing a distinctive uniform;
- The police car was sounding their siren, and distinctively marked;
- You evaded police in a vehicle with a willful and wanton disregard;
- For the safety of other people or property.
As stated, in order to be convicted of felony reckless evading charge, the police vehicle must distinctive markings, which obviously includes the name or seal of the police department on the outside of the vehicle.
This is worth noting due to the fact it excludes undercover police detectives in an unmarked car.
What is a Willful or Wanton Disregard for Safety?
The question of what exactly does it mean to drive with a willful or wanton disregard for safety is important.
This crucial element of the crime is what distinguishes a misdemeanor evading police case, Vehicle Code 2800.1 VC, with the more serious felony reckless evading case under Vehicle Code 2800.2 VC.
In the context of felony reckless evading, in order to drive with a “wanton disregard for safety,” means:
- You were aware that your behavior posed a risk of harm, and;
- Intentionally ignored the risk, and;
- Drove your vehicle in a manner that showed;
- No regard for the safety of others.
It should be noted that it is not required that you caused any type of damage.
What are the Penalties for a Felony Reckless Evading Conviction?
As stated, felony reckless evading charges in violation of California Vehicle Code 2800.2 VC is a “wobbler.”
This means the prosecutor has the discretion to file the charges as either a misdemeanor or felony crime, but they will typically file the case as a felony.
A misdemeanor VC 2800.2 reckless evading case carries the following penalties:
- A minimum of 6 months and up to 1 year in the county jail,
- A fine up to $1,000,
- Misdemeanor summary probation.
If convicted of reckless evading as a felony crime, the penalties include:
- 16 months, 2 years, or 3 years in a California state prison,
- A fine up to $10,000,
- Formal felony probation.
In addition, a conviction will normally result in a driver's license suspension or revocation, and your vehicle could be impounded for up to 30 days.
What are the Related California Offenses for VC 2800.2 VC?
- Vehicle Code 2800.1 VC – evading a police officer
- Vehicle Code 2800.3 VC – evading police causing injury or death
- Vehicle Code 23103 VC – reckless driving
- Penal Code 148(a) PC – resisting arrest
How Can I Fight Felony Reckless Evading Charges?
Our Los Angeles criminal defense attorneys have a track record of success defending felony reckless evading charges.
There are a variety of common legal defenses we can use to fight your Vehicle Code 2800.2 felony reckless evading charges, including:
- Lack of intent,
- Insufficient evidence.
No intent to evade – Recall that one of the crucial elements of the crime is that the prosecutor must prove you had a specific intent to evade police. In some cases, we make be able to challenge the alleged intent.
For instance, let's say the late night incident occurred in a known bad neighborhood and you couldn't tell for sure the police car was distinctly marked.
Perhaps you were only making an attempt to drive to a location where the lighting was better in order to escape what you believed to be a potentially dangerous situation, which means you didn't intend to evade police.
Insufficient evidence of reckless driving – In some situations, we might be able to make a reasonable argument you did not recklessly evade the police officer.
There have been cases where an overzealous prosecutor attempts to turn a misdemeanor evading police into a felony offense, when there is simply insufficient evidence to support you were driving reckless.
In other words, we might be able to prove your driving was not in a manner that created a high risk of safety to others.
Contact Eisner Gorin LLP If Charged with Evading Police
If you are convicted of felony reckless evading in violation of California Vehicle Code 2800.2, it could carry severe consequences.
We are former prosecutors and know how to effectively defend felony reckless evading cases in order to obtain the best possible outcome.
Through prefiling intervention, we might be able to negotiate with the prosecutor for reduced charges or even a case dismissal.
We need to first review the details of your case to determine the options moving forward.
Eisner Gorin LLP is a criminal defense law firm located at 1875 Century Park E #705, Los Angeles, CA 90067.
Our main office is next to the Van Nuys Courthouse at 14401 Sylvan St #112 Van Nuys, CA 91401.
Contact our office for an initial consultation at (877) 781-1570.