Being pulled over can be overwhelming, especially if you are afraid of being charged with a DUI, possession of drugs, or other criminal offense. The best thing to do is remain calm. Whatever you do, don’t flee the scene – also called eluding an officer. In many cases, an eluding conviction will have worse consequences than the crime you’re trying to avoid.
If you are charged with eluding in New Jersey, you will need a knowledgeable and experienced New Jersey criminal defense attorney by your side. Call our lawyers for an eluding charge at Clark, Clark & Noonan, LLC at 732-303-7857.
What Is Eluding in New Jersey?
Eluding is a serious criminal offense in New Jersey. Under New Jersey Revised Statutes Section 2C:29-2, you may be found guilty of eluding if, while operating a motor vehicle, you knowingly attempt to elude a police officer (or flee) after receiving a signal from the officer to stop your vehicle.
Eluding is a third-degree offense. However, it may be charged as a second-degree offense if the attempt to elude the police officer results in serious injury to or death of another person.
Not only does this law apply to people driving cars and trucks, but also to boats on the waters of New Jersey who flee or attempt to elude a police officer.
Common Eluding Scenarios
Eluding charges are more common than you might think. Sometimes they arise because of a misunderstanding. Other times, the actions of the offender are intentional, but the person does not understand the consequences of their actions.
One common scenario that might result in a conviction for eluding involves a person who tries to outrun a police officer when they are being pulled over. Whether they are trying to get out of a speeding ticket or have drugs in their car, fleeing from the officer is not the answer. It’s often better to take a standard speeding ticket than get arrested for a third-degree felony like eluding.
People who may try to elude officers may not have a valid driver’s license or proper insurance on their car. They believe it’s better to evade the traffic stop. They may think they can speed ahead of the police officer and turn down a dark alley to hide. It’s not worth the risk. You may end up with a second-degree felony if you break another traffic law while eluding an officer.
Another example includes someone involved in a traffic accident and leaving the scene. If they subsequently refuse to pull over for a police officer, they may face multiple criminal charges at once. A situation where their insurance could have picked up the bill for the accident turns into needing a criminal defense attorney and facing time behind bars.
Elements of Proof for Eluding
To be found guilty of third-degree eluding, the prosecutor must prove every element of the offense beyond a reasonable doubt. Those elements include:
- You were operating a motor vehicle.
- You were on a street, highway, or New Jersey waterway.
- You were signaled to stop by someone you reasonably should have known was a police officer.
- You failed to stop.
If the crime is elevated to second-degree eluding, the prosecutor must also prove that you created a risk of injury or death during the flight. There is a presumption that you created such a risk if, while fleeing the officer, you violated any New Jersey motor vehicle law.
Possible Penalties for Eluding Police in New Jersey
Eluding is a serious offense in New Jersey, and the state imposes significant penalties.
Eluding is typically a third-degree felony. It can result in a fine of up to $15,000 and between three and five years in prison.
However, if eluding is charged as a second-degree felony, you may face a fine of up to $150,000 and between five and 10 years in prison.
Eluding Charges FAQ
Is Eluding a Misdemeanor or a Felony?
You might not think that eluding is a huge deal, but it is. New Jersey charges eluding as a third-degree felony. If you put the public in danger, then you may face a second-degree felony for eluding. If you are convicted of eluding, you will face the possibility of time in prison.
Can I Get Probation If I Am Convicted of Eluding?
It is possible to get sentenced to probation if you are convicted of eluding. It will require a talented lawyer who negotiates well with the prosecution. You should choose a criminal defense attorney who knows New Jersey laws well and has the skill to create a strategic defense on your behalf.
Can I Obtain Pretrial Intervention If I’m Charged with Eluding?
It may be possible to get Pretrial Intervention if you are charged with eluding. The New Jersey Pretrial Intervention Program (PTI) allows first-time defendants alternatives to traditional sentencing. It focuses on rehabilitation and deterring future criminal activity.
What Happens If There Is a Car Accident During Eluding an Officer?
If a person causes a car accident while fleeing or attempting to elude a police officer, their charge will be bumped to a second-degree felony. Additionally, you may face charges for aggravated assault.
Contact an Eluding Lawyer for Help with Your Case
If you have been charged with eluding or have questions about another crime, Clark, Clark & Noonan, LLC is here with answers. We offer consultations with legal advice for all criminal defense situations. Call today at 732-303-7857 or contact us online.