Fleeing and Eluding A Police Officer in Michigan
Typically, there are two ways people find themselves being charged with fleeing and eluding. First, that they never intended to but somehow misjudged what the police officer was requesting of them, or they were scared and tried to get away. The reality is, that a person may be charged with a felony of fleeing and eluding even if they never intended to. There are two sides to every story, and there is a reason that our criminal justice system requires a person to be found guilty beyond a reasonable doubt by a jury of their peers. It is not difficult to believe that you have found yourself in a situation that seems outside of the scope of what actually occurred. No matter what the circumstances that led to your arrest, we are here to help you get the best-case result.
Being afraid and running is very natural. It is absolutely understandable when someone runs, because they are scared or frightened. It could be a fear of getting caught doing something you know you should not be doing, or a fear of what might happen to you once you are caught. Our driver's license attorney understands that when fear and emotions take hold of a person, they can make poor decisions, but it does not make them a bad person. Perhaps you didn’t even see that the officer was trying to pull over until it was too late. What matters now is getting the best legal representation possible, so you get the best outcome. Let us take some time to learn more about the law, the potential penalties, and talk about what we can do to help.
Fleeing and Eluding: The Law and What it Means
Here is the text directly from the statute for fleeing and eluding. Let us take a look at the language and discuss what it actually means.
One of the things that makes a great defense to fleeing and eluding more difficult, is the fact that the crime has been ruled to be a crime of general intent. “The fleeing and eluding statute only requires intent to do the physical act of fleeing and eluding a police officer; it does not require intent beyond the act of fleeing and eluding... [r]ather, the statute only requires a general intent” People v. Abramski, 257 Mich. App. 71, 73, 665 N.W.2d 501, 503 (2003).
There is a big difference between general intent crimes and specific intent crimes. Thankfully, the difference is not difficult to grasp, but is important in this context to understand what we are up against. Specific intent crimes require the prosecutor to prove not only that a person performed a specific act, but also that the person intended to bring about a specific consequence. For example, aggravated assault is a specific intent crime, and is defined as an intentional or harmful physical contact with another with the intent to maim or disfigure. So, if you were at a football game, and thrust your fist into the air in reaction to a play at the exact same moment that another fan stepped in front of you, a prosecutor could not convict you of aggravated assault even though you bludgeoned a man’s face, because you lacked the specific intent to assault him.
Conversely, a general intent crime does not require that you intended to bring about a certain consequence, only that you performed the physical act described in the statute. The statute reads, “shall not willfully fail to obey that direction by increasing the speed of the vehicle or vessel, extinguishing the lights of the vehicle or vessel, or otherwise attempting to flee or elude the police or conservation officer.” MCL 750.479a. Therefore, the prosecutor does not need to prove that it was your intention to flee and elude, only that you increased your speed or otherwise attempted to flee and elude. Essentially, this makes the intent component of the crime easier for the prosecution to prove.
The Difference Between 4th degree, 3rd degree, 2nd Degree, and 1st Degree Fleeing and Eluding
In Michigan, 4th degree fleeing and eluding is the least serious of the offenses, and 1st degree is the most serious. A person may be charged 4th degree fleeing and eluding if there was no accident and it was their first offense. Their license will be suspended for one year. If an accident did occur, or a portion of the violation occurred where the speed limit is 35mph or less, or it is a second offense, than the charge will be elevated to the 3rd degree. The person’s license will be suspended for one year. A second-degree offense occurs when there is an accident resulting in serious impairment of a bodily function, or there has been a prior 1st, 2nd, or 3rd degree fleeing and eluding. Finally, first degree occurs when there is an accident that results in the death of another person. A person’s license will be revoked for both 1st and 2nd degree fleeing and eluding convictions.
The Difference Between the Michigan Penal Code 750.479a and the Michigan Motor Vehicle Code 257.602a
Ok, so now we are going to throw a curve ball at you. There are actually two statutes in Michigan that describe the same crime of fleeing and eluding, and they have the same statutory language we have already reviewed, but they have very different monetary penalties. The easiest way to compare the two is to look at the chart comparing the penalties for the different degrees below.
|MMVC 257.602a||MPC 750.479a|
|4th degree||2 years in prison and $500||2 years in prison and $2,000|
|3rd degree||5 years in prison and $1,000||5 years in prison and $5,000|
|2nd degree||10 years in prison and $5,000||10 years in prison and $10,000|
|1st degree||15 years in prison and $10,000||15 years in prison and $15,000|
As you can see the costs are much lower if you are convicted under MCL 257.602a than MCL 750.479a. A conviction is never the goal, but it is better financially if we are operating out of MCL 750.49a. This is why it is essential to hire top-notch legal representation to present the best evidence possible and to negotiate with the prosecutor from a less serious offense or fight to get the charges dismissed altogether. These are exactly the type of facts that a skilled and experienced attorney can use during negotiations with a prosecutor to strike a more favorable plea bargain or take it to trial. It may even be possible to have a 4th degree fleeing and eluding reduced to an attempted 4th degree fleeing and eluding misdemeanor or a civil infraction that won’t have a negative impact on your driver’s license. Jail time is always negotiable and we have a proven track record of keeping people out of jail. Grabel & Associates know the law, and will fight to get you the best result possible. Contact us online or call 1-800-677-9795 now to schedule your free consultation, and to begin to the process of putting together an aggressive and comprehensive legal defense strategy.