California Vehicle Code Section 2800.1 VC: Evading A Peace Officer

1. Definition and Elements of the Crimepeace officer evasion

While car chases are often a staple of action movies and news reports, evading a peace officer in a motor vehicle is in reality a criminal offense under California Vehicle Code Section 2800.1 VC that can lead to serious penalties for those convicted.

In order to prove a defendant evaded a peace officer in violation of California Vehicle Code Section 2800.1 VC, a prosecutor must be able to establish the following elements:

  1. A peace officer driving a motor vehicle or bicycle was pursuing the defendant
  2. The defendant, who was driving a motor vehicle, willfully fled from, or tried to elude, the officer, intending to evade the officer
  3. AND all of the following are true
    1. There was at least one lighted red lamp visible from the front of the peace officer’s vehicle
    2. The defendant either saw or reasonably should have seen the lamp
    3. The peace officer’s vehicle was sounding a siren as reasonably necessary
    4. The peace officer’s vehicle was distinctively marked
    5. AND the peace officer was wearing a distinctive uniform

A vehicle is considered to be distinctively marked if it has features that are reasonably noticeable to other drivers, including a red lamp, siren, and at least one other feature that makes it look different from vehicles that are not used for law enforcement.

2. Related Offenses

Other similar or related offenses include:

  1. Reckless Evading of a Peace Officer - California Vehicle Code Section 2800.2 VC
  2. Evading a Peace Officer and Causing Death or Serious Bodily Injury – California Vehicle Code Section 2800.3 VC
  3. Resisting Arrest – California Penal Code Section 148(a) PC
3. Examples

A man driving in his car notices flashing red lights behind him on his way home. He looks in his rearview mirror and sees a marked police squad car with flashing red and blue lights accompanied by sirens. He also notices that the driver is not wearing a standard police uniform but instead has a vest marked “police” with a visible badge. The man does not stop and tries to drive away from the officer over the course of several miles. This man could be charged with misdemeanor evading a peace officer in violation of California Vehicle Code Section 2800.1 VC. Courts have held that wearing a marked police vest satisfies the “uniform” requirement.

In another example a man has heard about criminals who put flashing lights on their vehicles and attempt to pull over unsuspecting motorists, only to rob them. One night, he notices flashing red lights behind while driving on a desolate stretch of road. The man is frightened that he may be a victim, so instead of pulling over right away, he drives slowly for a couple of miles until he reaches a local police department, at which point he stops his vehicle. The man would not be guilty of evading a peace officer because he lacked the requisite intent to evade the officer as required by statute.

4. Defenses to Evading a Peace Officer

As mentioned above, if the defendant did not specifically intend to evade the officer, he or she would not be criminally liable for this offense. Additionally, if the defendant did not realize that he or she was being pulled over, he or she may have a valid defense depending on the underlying factual circumstances involved.

5. Penalties

Evading a peace officer under California Vehicle Code Section 2800.1 VC is a misdemeanor offense that is punishable by up to a year in jail and a $1,000 court fine. In addition, those convicted of this offense are subject to having their car impounded for up to 30 days.

6. Criminal Defense for Evading a Peace Officer Cases

If you have been charged with evading a peace officer, it is very important that you consult with a knowledgeable Los Angeles Criminal Defense Lawyer right away. As a former Deputy District Attorney with over 14 years of prosecutorial experience, Los Angeles Criminal Defense Attorney Michael Kraut knows how to properly and effectively defend these types of charges. Mr. Kraut understands that there may have been extenuating circumstances when the incident occurred and works hard to make sure his clients receive the best defense possible.

For more information about evading a peace officer and to schedule your free consultation, contact Los Angeles Criminal Defense Lawyer Michael Kraut at the Kraut Law Group located at 6255 Sunset Boulevard, Suite 1480, Los Angeles, CA 90028. Mr. Kraut can be reached 24/7 at 888-334-6344 or 323-464-6453.

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