Fleeing & Eluding the Police
The element of danger to the general public and law enforcement officers is always a concern when police make traffic stops, act upon a warrant or effectuate an arrest. In Michigan, the laws which prohibit fleeing & eluding a police officer in the performance of duties are all felony crimes. In addition to facing prison, there are various legal and personal ramifications when a person is convicted of a felony. Pursuant to state and federal laws, a person convicted of a felony cannot possess a firearm. In Michigan, a fleeing and eluding conviction will also lead to complete revocation of driving privileges for a minimum of one (1) year by the Michigan Secretary of State.Penalties for Fleeing Eluding
An operator of a motor vehicle (or vessel) who fails to stop or obey the directions of a police officer can be charged with felony fleeing and eluding pursuant to the Michigan Motor Vehicle Code (MCL 257.602a) or the Michigan Penal Code (MCL 750.479a). The penalties for fleeing and eluding are as follows:
|Fleeing, Failure to Obey Police Officer||Maximum Penalties in Michigan|
|First Degree (resulting in death)||15 years imprisonment and/or $15,000 fine|
|Second Degree (resulting in serious injury)||10 years imprisonment and/or $10,000 fine|
|Third Degree (resulting in an accident)||5 years imprisonment and/or $5,000 fine|
|Fourth Degree (accident not required)||2 years imprisonment and/or $2,000 fine|
- Police or conservation officer giving the signal must be uniform and the vehicle or vessel must be identified as an official vehicle or vessel.
- A prior conviction for fleeing & eluding can be used to enhance the penalty for a future fleeing & eluding.
- A conviction fleeing does not prohibit a conviction and sentence for criminal conduct arising out of the same transaction
- Resisting, obstruction or assaulting a police officer is an offense substantially related to the offense of fleeing and eluding that may be charged separately or in conjunction with fleeing & eluding depending upon the circumstances.
- Leaving the scene of an accident (hit and run, or failing to report an accident) is a serious misdemeanor traffic violation and does not constitute a felony.
Any temptation to escape from the police will only matters worse. Fleeing & eluding is a crime that rarely occurs in isolation. Sometimes otherwise law abiding citizens panic during an attempted traffic stop. In more extreme scenarios, fleeing & eluding is a reaction by someone to avoid getting caught for some other criminal matter (outstanding arrest warrant, fugitive status, probation absconder, driving while license suspended, leaving the scene of an accident, drunk driving, illegal possession of property/drugs/guns).
Police confrontations are unavoidable. Knowing your personal rights and having a plan in place prior to a police confrontation is something that can prove to be invaluable. Here are a few legal and logical suggestions when dealing with law enforcement officers:
- Questionable traffic stop: If you feel unsafe or suspect it’s not really the police, turn on your emergency flashers, call 9-1-1 and continue slowly to a well-lit location like a gas station.
- Valid traffic stop: Do not exit your vehicle, but wait for the officer.
- Follow the officer’s instructions, keep your hands within view (on the steering wheel) and ask permission to make any bodily movements.
- Aside from providing identification, you have an absolute right to remain silent and anything that you say can be used against you in court.
- It is always preferred to consult with a lawyer before talking to the police. However, if you believe it is in your best interest to talk to the police to show your innocence or establish a defense, you should use a calm and composed voice to logically point out details or witnesses at the scene.
- It is rarely productive to argue or try to persuade the police. Any misunderstandings or problems that you believe occurred during a police confrontation can later be addressed in the court system with a criminal defense lawyer.
- Michigan CPL disclosure: An individual licensed carry a concealed pistol who is stopped by a peace officer shall immediately disclose to the peace officer that he or she is carrying a pistol concealed upon his or her person or in his or her vehicle.
- Recording: You do have the right to record an interaction with the police. However, the recording may be seized if the officer believes it contains evidence that must be protected.
Retaining a criminal defense lawyer should be first priority if you are an adult or juvenile accused of any misdemeanor or felony. Fortunately, legal entanglements are often manageable. Being charged with a felony does not necessarily mean that you will go to jail or be convicted of a felony. In our experience, most first time offenders, including those with a limited past record, may be entitled to a plea bargain to a misdemeanor with probation, not jail. Youthful offenders (age 18 but before age 26) may be entitled to HYTA status to get a dismissal and the record sealed.
ABDO LAW, established in Macomb County in 1980, provides unrivaled legal services to those that seek highly rated criminal defense lawyers. We believe that every client has a unique situation and deserves to be treated with respect and dedication to achieve the best possible result in the Michigan court system. In our 35 years of practicing criminal law, we have amassed 1,000’s of legal victories in every type of criminal matter.
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