California Vehicle Code Section 2800.1 VC makes it against the law to flee, evade, or attempt to elude police. Eluding police under this code is for people driving a car, in contrast to walking down the street and running away from police. Evading police is a misdemeanor offense in California and can lead to jail time and fines. It can also be charged as a felony with more serious consequences.
Unfortunately, a driver may not see or hear a police siren for a traffic stop and when they are eventually pulled over, the officer may claim the driver was trying to get away, resulting in criminal charges. If you were charged with 2800.1 VC, contact a local East Bay criminal defense lawyer as soon as possible.
Vehicle Code 2800.1 VC Text
Under California Vehicle Code Section 2800.1, “any person who, while operating a motor vehicle and with the intent to evade, willfully flees or otherwise attempts to elude a pursuing peace officer's motor vehicle, is guilty of a misdemeanor.”
Conditions for Misdemeanor Evading or Eluding Police
In order for an individual to be convicted of eluding police, there are a number of conditions that must be met. If all the conditions do not apply, the defendant should not be found guilty of the offense. The following conditions must exist:
- The peace officer's motor vehicle is exhibiting at least one lighted red lamp visible from the front and the person either sees or reasonably should have seen the lamp.
- The peace officer's motor vehicle is sounding a siren as may be reasonably necessary.
- The peace officer's motor vehicle is distinctively marked.
- The peace officer's motor vehicle is operated by a peace officer and that peace officer is wearing a distinctive uniform.
Evading Also Applies to Bike Cops
Under California Vehicle Code Section 2800.1(b), evading police charges also applies to police officers on bicycles. Just because a driver is in a car does not mean they can ignore a bike cop's orders to stop. The conditions for misdemeanor evasion charges with a police officer on a bike include:
- The peace officer's bicycle is distinctively marked.
- The peace officer's bicycle is operated by a peace officer and that peace officer is wearing a distinctive uniform.
- The peace officer gives a verbal command to stop.
- The peace officer sounds a horn that produces a sound of at least 115 decibels.
- The peace officer gives a hand signal commanding the person to stop.
- The person is aware or reasonably should have been aware of the verbal command, horn, and hand signal, but refuses to comply with the command to stop.
Who Qualifies as a Peace Officer
Under the statute, a “peace officer” is defined in the California Penal Code, Chapter 4.5. This is an exhaustive list but some of the individuals which East Bay drivers may come into contact with include:
- Police Officers
- Alameda County Sheriffs
- Contra Costa County Sheriffs
- Marine Patrol Police
- California Highway Patrol
- UC Berkeley Police
- Cal State East Bay Police
- Department of Corrections Peace Officers
- Department of Fish and Game Peace Officers
There are a lot of state, city, and county officials who may be considered peace officers. However, the majority of cases of evading police involve either a police officer, sheriff's deputy, or highway patrol officer.
Penalties for Fleeing Police
Eluding, evading, or fleeing police is a misdemeanor offense. The penalties for a conviction can include imprisonment for up to 1 year and a fine of up to $1,000. However, if the driver is considered to be driving recklessly when evading the police, they may be charged with a much more serious felony charge of reckless evading.
Defense Strategies for Eluding Police
Evading police is an easy charge to allege and is sometimes used as a way to get the driver to agree to a plea deal. For example, if a driver was speeding, took too long to stop at the side of the road, and was found with drugs in the car, the prosecutor might offer to drop the eluding police charge in exchange for pleading guilty to misdemeanor possession. Before agreeing to a “deal,” make sure you understand your rights.
Even though the police may claim you were attempting to flee, the number of conditions required for the charge may provide a number of defenses to the charges. If even one of the conditions is not proven beyond a reasonable doubt, then the defendant should not be found guilty.
Officer Using an Unmarked Vehicle
A police vehicle has to be distinctive. It is not uncommon these days to see police officers driving around Oakland or the East Bay in unmarked vehicles. These vehicles may be speeding through traffic with flashing lights and sirens but look like regular black sedans or SUVs with tinted windows.
Generally, in order for a vehicle to be distinctively marked, it has to have, at a minimum, a red light, siren, and at least one other feature that makes it different from vehicles that are not used by peace officers.
Officer Not Wearing a Uniform
A peace officer also has to be wearing a distinctive uniform. If someone is driving what looks like a police car but they are wearing a t-shirt and jeans, how is the driver supposed to know it is really a police officer and not someone impersonating an officer? Generally, a badge alone is not enough to be a distinctive uniform. The uniform should involve clothing adopted by the law enforcement agency to identify or distinguish members of the law enforcement agency.
Defense Lawyer for 2800.1 VC Charges in Alameda and Contra Costa Counties
East Bay attorney Lynn Gorelick has more than 36 years of criminal defense experience, and understands the consequences of misdemeanor and felony traffic charges for California drivers. Representing drivers in Alameda County and Contra Costa County, Lynn Gorelick is familiar with the local criminal laws, local officers, and the prosecutors involved. Contact East Bay vehicle code defense lawyer Lynn Gorelick today.