Fleeing A New York Police Officer
You’re driving along, minding your own business, when suddenly lights flash and a siren goes off behind you. It’s the cops! What do they want? What did you do? Were you speeding? Did you forget to signal or turn your lights on? Surely you weren’t swerving – you only had one drink.
Thoughts like these can come fast and furious when you suddenly find yourself the object of a police officer’s attention, and they can lead to you becoming terrified in a flash. This, in turn, might make you want to run away, especially if you’re afraid the officer in question is going to get you into serious trouble. But even if you feel like running, don’t do it.
Fight or flight is a natural instinct, but when you are dealing with a New York police officer, it’s not a time to be following your instincts. You need to calm down and really think about what you’re doing, and what the consequences will be.
Consequences for Fleeing a Police Officer in New York
Up until 2006, the State of New York had no specific statutes to address people fleeing from police officers in their motor vehicles. Before then, attempting to get away from a law enforcement officer was simply a form of “failure to obey a police officer,” which under New York law was only considered a traffic infraction. The new statutes, however, raise the status of this into a full-fledged crime.
These statutes break up the law related to fleeing from a police officer in a motor vehicle into three distinct parts, and each is charged differently.
- § 270.25: Unlawful fleeing a police officer in a motor vehicle in the third degree – if you have been directed by a uniformed police officer to stop your motor vehicle by that police vehicle flashing its lights, using its sirens, or both, and you knowingly ignore this direction and attempt to outrun the officer by driving 25 miles per hour or more over the speed limit, or driving recklessly, you are guilty of this crime and can be charged with a Class A misdemeanor.
- §270.30 Unlawful fleeing a police officer in a motor vehicle in the second degree – if you commit the offense described above, and as a result of your actions the police officer following your or any third party suffers a serious physical injury, you are guilty of this crime and can be charged with a Class E felony.
- § 270.35 Unlawful fleeing a police officer in a motor vehicle in the first degree – if you commit the offense described above as defined in section 270.25, unlawful fleeing a police officer in a motor vehicle in the third degree, and as a result of your actions the police officer following you or any third party is killed, you are guilty of this crime and can be charged with a Class D felony.
Each of these crimes carries with it serious penalties. Besides the associated fines, and the fact that fleeing a police officer a crime means that you will now carry a criminal record with you for the rest of your life, those found guilty of even the least serious of these offenses – unlawful fleeing a police officer in a motor vehicle in the third degree – can face up to 1 year of jail time. For second degree fleeing, which involves another person becoming injured due to the incident, the potential jail time jumps up to 4 years. And if you are found guilty of fleeing in the first degree, meaning that the incident caused the death of another person, you can face up to 7 years of prison time.
Ways to Fight a New York Fleeing Charge
Experienced New York criminal attorneys will look closely at your specific circumstances when trying to battle a charge of unlawful fleeing. They will look into your medical history to see if there is anything that might cast doubt on the presumption that you were aware of the officer’s attempts to pull you over. If there is an injury or death involved, they will examine the facts of the case to see if your actions actually caused it to happen. And they will explore the actions of the police officer to see if he or she followed protocol in their attempts to get you to pull over.
It is not an easy charge to beat, but that’s why you need a good New York criminal attorney who knows this law and has experience dealing with these types of cases. If you want the best possible outcome, you need someone fighting for your rights.