Fleeing and Eluding the Police Can Have Serious Repercussions
There is a moment when we know we either have to capitulate and surrender to the police, or we can make a break for it and run. And while it can be scary to surrender to the police, it is often the better choice — even when you have done nothing wrong. The simple act of fleeing and eluding the police can cause you serious problems.
Fleeing and Eluding an Officer: The Law Requires That You Stop
When a law enforcement officer pulls up behind your vehicle and signals you to pull over, you must do so. It is the law in Oklahoma. Sirens, flashing lights, a honking horn, a bull horn — are all signals to stop and pull over.
Oklahoma law states that if you willfully attempt to speed up, turn off your vehicle lights, or in any other manner attempt to flee or elude the police, you may be convicted of a misdemeanor. The first conviction is punishable by up to a year in jail, a fine between $100 and $2,000, or both.
Penalties increase for subsequent convictions; you could be sentenced to up to a year in jail and required to pay a fine between $500 and $5,000. Okla. Stat. tit. 21 § 540A
The law enforcement officer can also include Oklahoma state game rangers, highway patrol, sheriff’s deputies, and other law enforcement or peace officers. When signaling you to pull over, the peace officer must do so from an official vehicle. OUJI-CR 6-29
In addition, the attempt to elude must be willful. That means if you are unaware of the law enforcement officer’s signal to pull over and fail to stop, that element of the crime will not have been met.
Causing an Accident While Eluding or Fleeing
If you endanger another or cause an accident resulting in great bodily injury to another in your attempt to elude an officer, you will face stiffer penalties. To do so is a felony punishable by one to five years in prison. You also may be required pay a fine of up to $5,000.
In Oklahoma, great bodily injury is defined as creating a substantial risk of death, permanent disfigurement, protracted loss, or impairment.
This must also be done willfully for the prosecution to prove a case against you. OUJI-CR 6-30
Simply eluding a police officer can result in jail time, and all jail time — whether for a misdemeanor or for a felony — can alter the course of your life. There are defenses available, and you should explore them with an experienced criminal defense attorney in the Claremore area. Only a local attorney will know the ins and outs of the particular courts and judges that you may face.
It is important that you contact an experienced criminal defense attorney as soon as possible. Your attorney can help you understand what options are available to you, and can zealously represent you.
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