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California Vehicle Code § 2800.1 – Evading an Officer

California Vehicle Code § 2800.1 – Evading an Officer

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California Vehicle Code § 2800.1[1] – Evading an Officer - When a California officer attempts to pull over a vehicle in the state, one of two things usually occurs.  Either the driver of the vehicle pulls over to the side of the road or, in some circumstances, the driver refuses to pull over, maybe even weaving in and out of traffic to try and evade the officer. California Vehicle Code § 2800.1 prohibits an individual from attempting to evade or flee a California peace officer. It is closely related to California Vehicle Code § 2800.2 Felony Reckless Evading.   

Vehicle Code 2800.1 for evading an officer is a misdemeanor.  As such, it carries a maximum penalty of not more than one (1) year in the county jail and a fine of up to $1,000 dollars, a lesser penalty than the more serious § 2800.2 Felony Reckless Evading which can be charged as a misdemeanor or a felony.   


What does California Vehicle Code § 2800.1 prohibit?

To be guilty under Vehicle Code § 2800.1, you must:

  • drive a motor vehicle
  • willfully attempt to flee from a police officer
  • while the officer is pursuing you in a car or on a bicycle.

The definition of “evading a peace officer” under Vehicle Code § 2800.1

In order for you to be convicted of evading or fleeing an officer, the prosecution must prove the following:

  • Marked Vehicle:  The police officer must have pursued you in a marked police vehicle including a car, motorcycle or bicycle so that the public is protected from those non officers with lights or sirens.[2]
  • Willfulness:  The prosecution must show that you willfully fled or attempted to elude the police officer. If you continued to drive for a short time because it was unsafe to pull over, you did not “willfully” evade the police. Black's Law Dictionary defines “willfull[3] as: “proceeding from a conscious motion of the will; intending the result which actually comes to pass; intentional as distinguished from accidental or involuntary.”
  • Intent:  It must be shown that you had the specific intent to evade the officer.
  • Red Light:  The police vehicle had at least one visible red light that you either saw or reasonably should have seen. There must be evidence presented by the police vehicle was equipped with a red light that met visibility requirements.[4]
  • Uniform:  The officer must have been wearing a distinctive uniform which may not include a plain clothes officer with a badge.[5]

Penalties under California Vehicle Code § 2800.1

As a misdemeanor, evading an officer carries a possible sentence of up to one (1) year in county jail as well as a fine of up to $1,000.00 dollars. Additionally, the vehicle that was being driven may be impounded[6] for up to thirty days.

Defenses to Vehicle Code §2800.1 evading a peace officer

The police vehicle wasn't marked

Example:  The vehicle driven by the peace officer does not contain an insignia or logo that makes it look different from “regular” vehicles. 

You did not see an insignia on the police vehicle and did not pull over because you were concerned for your safety believing that it was someone pretending to be an officer. The vehicle was not properly marked and you cannot be convicted of evading an officer.

There was an emergency

Example: Your wife has serious allergies and appeared to be having an allergic reaction to something she ate. When a Santa Clarita police officer attempted to pull you over, you were concerned about your wife's safety and continued to drive to the hospital.

Because you did not intentionally attempt to evade police and were instead focused on the safety of your spouse, the prosecution cannot prove this essential element of the crime.

You didn't intentionally evade police

Example: A young lady is driving home from work late at night. A dark vehicle signals for her to pull over but she is too scared to stop in that neighborhood and she keeps driving until she reaches a well-lit public location.

The driver did not willfully evade the police and should not be convicted of the crime. 


Related Offenses

California Vehicle Code § 2800.2 – Felony Reckless Evading

Vehicle Code § 2800.2 applies when a person flees or attempts to elude a police officer and the pursued vehicle is driven in with willful or wanton disregard for the safety of persons or property. 

Vehicle Code § 2800.2[7] can be charged as a misdemeanor or a felony. If convicted of a misdemeanor the punishment is:

  • Confinement in the county jail for not less than six months nor more than one year; or
  • A fine of not less than $1,000 dollars nor more than $10,000 dollars; or
  • Both jail and a fine. 

As a felony the punishment includes:

  • 16 months, 2 or 3 years in state prison; or
  • Fine up to $10,000 dollars; or
  • Imprisonment and fine.

Willful or wanton disregard for the safety of persons or property includes:

  • Driving while fleeing or attempting to elude a pursuing peace officer during which time either three or more traffic violations occur;
  • Or damage to property occurs.

California Jury Instructions – Felony Reckless Evading

To prove that the defendant is guilty of this crime, the People must prove that the driver willfully attempted to evade an officer[8] and that the driver disregarded the safety of others or of property. The People must also show that both the officer and the vehicle driven by the officer were distinctively marked and that the vehicle had at least one red light. 

An example of felony reckless evading might involve a driver with a suspended license who is afraid to be pulled over by the police for a minor traffic stop. Instead, the driver begins to weave in and out of traffic, runs red lights and threatens the safety of other drivers and property while attempting to evade the police.

California Vehicle Code § 2800.3 – Evading an Officer Causing Injury or Death

When the willful flight or attempt to elude[9] a peace officer causes serious bodily injury to any person, the driver can be charged with Vehicle Code § 2800.3. 

Upon conviction, the driver's sentence can include:

• Imprisonment in state prison for 3, 5 or 7 years; or

• Imprisonment in county jail for not more than 1 year;

• Fine of not less than $2,000 dollars nor more than $10,000 dollars; or

• Imprisonment and fine.

If the willful flight or attempt to elude causes death, the driver shall be imprisoned in the state prison for 4, 6, or 10 years.

California Jury Instructions – Evading an Officer Causing Injury or Death

To prove that the defendant is guilty of this crime, the People must prove that the driver willfully attempted to evade an officer and that the driver disregarded the safety of others or of property.  The People must also show that both the officer and the vehicle driven by the officer were distinctively marked and that the vehicle had at least one red light. As the name suggests, the People must also demonstrate that injury or death occurred[10] as a result of the driver's attempt to evade police. 

Similar to felony reckless evading, an example of evading an officer causing injury or death might involve a driver who was drinking at a holiday party and does not want to be pulled over by the police for a broken headlight. Instead, the driver begins to weave in and out of traffic, runs red lights and threatens the safety of other drivers and property while attempting to evade the police, ultimately striking another vehicle and injuring or killing the other driver and passengers.

California Penal Code 148(a)(1) - Resisting Arrest

California Penal Code §148(a)(1) applies when a person resists, delays, or obstructs any public officer, peace officer, or an emergency medical technician. 

Penal Code § 148(a)(1) can be charged as a misdemeanor.  If convicted of a misdemeanor the punishment is:

  • Confinement in the county jail of up to one year; and/or
  • A maximum one thousand dollar ($1,000) fine. 

California Jury Instructions – Resisting Arrest

To prove that the defendant is guilty of this crime, the People must prove that a person willfully resisted or delayed[11] a police officer or emergency medical technician from performing their official duties. 

An example of resisting arrest might be an individual who attempts to hit or kick a police officer who is placing them under arrest or someone who tries to physically prevent an officer from interviewing a witness.

California Vehicle Code 20002 - Hit and Run

California Vehicle Code 20002[12] provides “The driver of any vehicle involved in an accident resulting only in damage to any property, including vehicles, shall immediately stop the vehicle at the nearest location that will not impede traffic or otherwise jeopardize the safety of other motorists.”  The driver must do one of the following:

  1. Locate the owner or person in charge of the property; or
  2. Leave a note giving the name and address of the driver and information regarding the incident.

Vehicle Code 20002 can be charged as a misdemeanor when there is damage to property. If convicted, you could be sentenced to up to six months in county jail and a fine up to $1000.00 dollars. If someone was injured or killed, the offense can be charged as a felony (California Vehicle Code 20001(b)(1)). 

Upon conviction of Felony Hit and Run, the driver's sentence can include:

• Imprisonment in state prison for 16 months, 2 years, or three years, or 2, 3 or 4 years if a seriod injury or death occured; or

• Imprisonment in county jail for at least 90 days but not more than 1 year;

• Fine of not less than $1,000 dollars nor more than $10,000 dollars; or

• Imprisonment and fine.

California Jury Instructions – Hit and Run

To prove that the defendant is guilty of this crime, the People must prove that a driver involved in an accident caused damage but failed to stop at the scene or to provide the property owner with his contact information. 

An example of a hit and run[13 is a driver who is involved in an auto collision. As the second driver stops and gets out of their vehicle to exchange contact information, the first driver speeds away and heads home. 

California Vehicle Code 23109(c) – Exhibition of Speed

California Vehicle Code Section 23109(c) provides “(a) A person shall not engage in a motor vehicle speed contest on a highway. As used in this section, a motor vehicle speed contest[14] includes a motor vehicle race against another vehicle, a clock, or other timing device. For purposes of this section, an event in which the time to cover a prescribed route of more than 20 miles is measured, but where the vehicle does not exceed the speed limits, is not a speed contest.”

Vehicle Code Section 23109(c) can be charged as a misdemeanor and is often plead down to from a DUI where the BAC is low or there are other mitigating factors. Upon conviction, the driver's sentence can include:

• Imprisonment in county jail for at least 24 hours but not more than 90 days; or

• Fine of not less than $355.00 dollars nor more than $1,000 dollars; or

• Imprisonment and fine; or

  • 40 hours of community service; or
  • Suspended license of 90 days up to 6 months.

California Jury Instructions – Exhibition of Speed

To prove that the defendant is guilty of this crime, the People must prove that the driver willfully engaged in an exhibition of speed[15], driving at a dangerous and unsafe rate of speed to show off.  An example of exhibition of speed could involve two teens driving separate cars. As they take off from a stop light, they both increase their speed, engaging in a road race down a busy highway.   

What can I do if I am charged with evading an officer?

Evading a California peace officer under Vehicle Code 2800.1 is a serious crime. It is important to retain an experienced California criminal defense attorney as soon as possible in order to protect your rights and develop a defense strategy. A skilled criminal defense attorney may be able to:

  • Negotiate a lesser charge in a plea bargain;
  • Reduce or eliminate the sentence;
  • Have the charges dismissed.
Call us

The attorneys at the Kann California Defense Group have a thorough understanding of the local courts and an extensive knowledge of California's criminal justice system including Ventura, Santa Clarita, Los Angeles, Encino, Pasadena, and many other Southern California cities. If you or someone you know has been arrested or charged with evading an officer, our team of attorneys will analyze the facts of your case and plan a defense strategy that will help you obtain the very best possible outcome in your case. Call the Kann California Defense Group today to schedule your free and confidential consultation.

References

[1] California Vehicle Code Sections 2800-2818

[2] Supreme Court in People v. Hudson (2006) 38 Cal 4th 1002

[3] Black's Law Dictionary

[4] People v. Acevedo (2003) 105 Cal App 4th 195 

[5] In People v. Mathews (1998) 64 Cal App 4th 485[6] California Vehicle Code 14602.7

[7] California Vehicle Code § 2800.2 – Felony Reckless Evading

To prove that the defendant is guilty of this crime, the People must prove that:

    1. A peace officer driving a motor vehicle was pursuing the defendant;
    2. The defendant, who was also driving a motor vehicle, willfully fled from, or tried to elude, the officer, intending to evade the officer;
    3. During the pursuit, the defendant drove with willful or wanton disregard for the safety of persons or property; AND
    4. All of the following were true:
      1. There was at least one lighted red lamp visible from the front of the peace officer's vehicle;
      2. The defendant either saw or reasonably should have seen the lamp;
      3. The peace officer's vehicle was sounding a siren as reasonably necessary;
      4. The peace officer's vehicle was distinctively marked; and
      5. The peace officer was wearing a distinctive uniform.”

[8] California Jury Instructions - CALCRIM 2181 – Felony Reckless Evading

[9] California Vehicle Code § 2800.3 – Evading an Officer Causing Injury or Death

[10] California Jury Instructions – CALCRIM 2180 - Evading an Officer Causing Injury or Death

“To prove that the defendant is guilty of this crime, the People must prove that:

1. A peace officer in a vehicle was pursuing the defendant, who was also driving a vehicle;

2. The defendant intended to evade the peace officer;

3. While driving, the defendant willfully fled from, or tried to elude, the pursuing peace officer;

4. The defendant's attempt to flee from, or elude, the pursuing peace officer caused (the death of/ [or] serious bodily injury to) someone else; and

5. All of the following were true:

  1. There was at least one lighted red lamp visible from the front of the peace officer's vehicle;
  2. The defendant either saw or reasonably should have seen the lamp;
  3. The peace officer's vehicle was sounding a siren as reasonably necessary;
  4. The peace officer's vehicle was distinctively marked; AND
  5. The peace officer was wearing a distinctive uniform.

A serious bodily injury means a serious impairment of physical condition. Such an injury may include, but is not limited to: (loss of consciousness/ concussion/ bone fracture/ protracted loss or impairment of function of any bodily member or organ/ a wound requiring extensive suturing and serious disfigurement).”

[11] California Jury Instructions – CALCRIM 2656 – Resisting Arrest

“To prove that the defendant is guilty of this crime, the People must prove that:

1. The individual was an (peace officer/public officer/emergency medical technician) lawfully performing or attempting to perform (his/her) duties as a (peace officer/public officer/emergency medical technician);

2. The defendant willfully (resisted [or] obstructed [or] delayed) the peace officer/emergency medical technician in the performance or attempted performance of those duties;  and

3. When the defendant acted, (he/she) knew, or reasonably should have known, that the peace officer/emergency medical technician was (a/an) (peace officer/public officer/emergency medical technician) performing or attempting to perform (his/her) duties.

Someone commits an act willfully when he or she does it willingly or on purpose. It is not required that he or she intend to break the law, hurt someone else, or gain any advantage.”

[12] California Vehicle Code 20002 - Hit and Run

[13] California Jury Instructions – CALCRIM 2150 – Misdemeanor Hit and Run

“To prove that the defendant is guilty of this crime, the People must prove that:

  1. While driving, the defendant was involved in a vehicle accident;
  2. The accident caused damage to someone else's property;
  3. The defendant knew that (he/she) had been involved in an accident that caused property damage [or] knew from the nature of the accident that it was probable that property had been damaged]; and
  4. The defendant willfully failed to perform one or more of the following duties:

(a) To immediately stop at the scene of the accident; OR

(b) To immediately provide the owner or person in control of the damaged property with (his/her) name and current residence address [and the name and address of the owner of the vehicle the defendant was driving]. “

[14] California Vehicle Code 23109(c) - Exhibition of Speed

[15] California Jury Instructions – CALCRIM  2202  - Exhibition of Speed

To prove that the defendant is guilty of this crime, the People must prove that:

1. The defendant drove a motor vehicle on a highway; AND

2. While so driving, the defendant willfully engaged in an exhibition of speed.

Someone commits an act willfully when he or she does it willingly or on purpose. It is not required that he or she intend to break the law, hurt someone else, or gain any advantage.

A person engages in an exhibition of speed when he or she accelerates or drives at a rate of speed that is dangerous and unsafe in order to show off or make an impression on someone else.”

Kann California Defense Group

Daniel E. Kann has devoted his entire legal career exclusively to defending individuals facing criminal prosecution in Southern California. Dan fights criminal cases throughout Los Angeles, Ventura, Orange, Kern, Riverside and San Bernardino Counties.

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