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Evading Arrest – Why It’s a Bad Idea to Run From Your Problems
October 2, 2013
It’s never a good idea to flee law enforcement when they are trying to perform an arrest or investigation. Not only will this cause police and investigators to engage in a chase, it can also bring additional criminal charges on top of whatever charge initiated the arrest or investigation.
Chasing suspected criminal offenders costs police departments a great deal of effort, time and resources. Additional officers and patrol units will be deployed, search helicopters and police dogs may be used and the risk of injury or death to police officers is greatly increased. For these reasons, evading police is treated as a serious offense with severe consequences.
What is Evading Arrest?
In short, evading arrest is defined as any action that attempts to prevent police officers from placing a suspect into custody or legal detention. This is a fairly straightforward definition but there are specific circumstances that dictate when this charge is applied.
Evading Arrest on Foot: Known in some jurisdictions as “flight”, this is the most common type of arrest evasion. Basically, running away from the police when they try to perform an arrest, stop or detention constitutes evading arrest on foot.
Obstructing Justice: Any action that prevents a police officer from performing his or her duties can be considered an obstruction of justice. This can occur if someone refuses to comply with an officer’s instructions or if someone forcibly resists the officer’s actions.
Resisting Arrest/Resisting Arrest by Force: Most cities and states have their own interpretation of the crime of resisting arrest. The different definitions of this crime are usually based on what actions a particular jurisdiction considers “resisting.” In general, resisting arrest occurs when someone actively tries to prevent an arrest from taking place. Resisting arrest by force occurs when someone actually tries to fight or attack police to prevent an arrest from happening. This is usually considered a felony crime.
Penalties for Evading Arrest
In most cases, evading arrest on foot, obstructing justice or resisting arrest are not considered felony-level offenses. They are usually misdemeanor charges punishable by up to a year in jail and/or a fine.
However, any act of arrest evasion that places police officers or bystanders in any danger or threat of harm can be prosecuted as a felony. Using a weapon or actually injuring a police officer can bring a sentence of years in federal prison.
For a charge of evading arrest to stick, the arrest must have been valid and legal. If the arrest was attempted without a warrant or reasonable suspicion, a defense attorney may be able to have the evading arrest charges dropped in some cases.