Drivers in California are legally required to stop their vehicles on the orders of peace officers. Drivers that attempt to avoid a peace officer can end up facing serious criminal charges under:
- California Vehicle Code Section 2800.1: Evading a Peace Officer
- California Vehicle Code Section 2800.2: Reckless Evading of a Peace Officer
- California Vehicle Code Section 2800.3: Evading a Peace Officer and Causing Death or Serious Bodily Injury
Of these charges, the court system treats VC 2800.3 with the most severity. The Simmrin Law Group can help you review the definition of evading a peace officer, the results of a VC 2800.3 conviction, and legal options for individuals charged under VC 2800.3.
Evading a Peace Officer in California
Individuals can only be charged under VC 2800.3 if they first evade a peace officer. The state of California defines evasion of a peace officer as:
- Willfully Fleeing or Trying to Flee a Peace Officer
- With the Intent of Evading the Peace Officer
- While the Peace Officer Pursues in a Motor Vehicle
Peace officers must be operating a vehicle that is distinctively marked for an individual to be charged with evading a peace officer. This means that the peace officer must:
- Wear a Distinctive Uniform
- Sound Their Siren as Needed
- Keep At Least One Red Lamp Lighted on Their Vehicle
- Operate a Distinctly Marked Vehicle
Any driver pursued by a peace officer that meets these qualifications must stop or they can be charged with evading a peace officer.
Evading a Peace Officer and Causing Death or Serious Bodily Injury
Evading a peace officer is a criminal action on its own. PC 2800.3 charges go beyond simple evasion and are considered more severe by the court system in California. Individuals can be charged under PC 2800.3 if they:
- Evade a Peace Officer AND
- Cause a Serious Bodily Injury OR
- Cause Someone to Die
The serious bodily injury or death must be tied to a driver’s reckless actions while evading a peace officer for PC 2800.3 charges to apply.
Serious Bodily Injuries in California
You may be wondering what qualifies as a serious bodily injury in California. Any injury that impairs an individual’s physical condition in a severe way may be considered a serious bodily injury. The following examples demonstrate serious bodily injuries in California:
- Bone Fractures
However, there is no set list of all serious bodily injuries. In many court cases, juries determine whether or not an injury is serious.
Penalties for Evading a Peace Officer and Causing Death or Serious Bodily Injury
The courts in California can prosecute VC 2800.3 differently, depending upon whether or not the victim is seriously injured or killed.
Repercussions for Causing Serious Bodily Injury
Drivers may face misdemeanor or felony charges for causing a serious bodily injury by evading a peace officer. A conviction can lead to:
- Fines: Up to $10,000
- Jail Time: Up to 1 Year
- Prison Time: Up to 7 Years
Repercussions for Causing Death
Drivers that cause a death while evading a peace officer always face felony charges in California. A felony conviction, in this case, can lead to up to 10 years of time in prison.
Additional Penalties for VC 2800.3 Charges
Individuals convicted of either a misdemeanor or felony VC 2800.3 may have their vehicles impounded and their driver’s licenses suspended. Commercial drivers may also have their license suspended for up to 1 year after a VC 2800.3 conviction.
Defenses for VC 2800.3 Accusations in California
A criminal defense lawyer in Los Angeles may be able to help you build a defense if you are accused of evading a peace officer and causing death or serious injury. Common defenses to this charge can involve showing that:
You Weren’t Trying to Evade a Peace Officer
Drivers must intentionally try to get away from a peace officer to be charged under VC 2800.3. If you weren’t aware a peace officer was trying to stop you, or if you were worried about pulling over because you weren’t sure the peace officer was legitimate, you may be able to avoid this charge.
You Weren’t Responsible for the Death or Injury
The roads in California can be very busy. Sometimes unrelated accidents occur while drivers are attempting to evade a peace officer. If your actions did not lead to a serious injury or death then you should not be convicted under VC 2800.3
Speak with a Criminal Defense Lawyer in California
California Vehicle Code Section 2800.3: Evading a Peace Officer and Causing Death or Serious Bodily Injury charges can be difficult to handle without professional help. Let the Simmrin Law Group’s criminal defense lawyers start offering you legal advice today with a FREE case evaluation.
Reach out for the help you need by completing our online contact form, or calling (310) 997-4688.