California Vehicle Code Section 2800.3 VC: Evading A Peace Officer And Causing Death Or Serious Bodily Injury

1. Definition and Elements of the Crimevehicular homicide

Evading an officer by itself is a serious criminal offense. However, when the act of evading a peace officer results in the death or serious bodily injury of another person, the crime is even more severe and can carry lengthy prison sentences. Evading a peace officer and causing death or serious bodily injury is prohibited under California Vehicle Code Section 2800.3 VC.

In order to prove that a defendant is guilty of evading a peace officer and causing death or serious bodily injury, a prosecutor must be able to establish the following elements:

  1. A peace officer driving a motor vehicle or bicycle was pursuing the defendant who was driving a vehicle
  2. The defendant intended to evade the peace officer
  3. While driving, the defendant willfully fled from, or tried to elude, the pursuing peace officer
  4. The defendant’s attempt to flee from, or elude, the pursuing peace officer caused another person to die or suffer serious bodily injury
  5. 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 serious bodily injury is a serious impairment of physical condition, including loss of consciousness, concussion, bone break/fracture, loss or impairment of a body part, a wound requiring extensive suturing and serious disfigurement.

2. Related Offenses

Similar offenses include the following:

  1. Evading a Peace Officer – California Vehicle Code Section 2800.1 VC
  2. Reckless Evading of a Peace Officer - California Vehicle Code Section 2800.2 VC
  3. Resisting Arrest – California Penal Code Section 148(a) PC
3. Examples

A man is involved in a high speed car chase after he refuses to pull over for a routine traffic stop. The man is driving at freeway speeds on city streets while trying to evade police units that are following him. While driving in this fashion, the man fails to see another car ahead of him and rears-ends this car. The collision causes the driver of the other car to be knocked unconscious in addition to suffering some broken bones. The man could be charged with evading a peace officer and causing serious bodily injury in violation of California Vehicle Code Section 2800.3 VC.

In another example, the same man is involved in a high speed chase on city surface streets while trying to elude several police vehicles. The man passes a group of pedestrians and just barely avoids hitting them. One of the pedestrians is so alarmed that he suffers a fatal heart attack. In this scenario, the man would probably not be criminally liable for evading a peace officer and causing death, since the heart attack was not a direct, natural or probable result of his driving. He could still be charged with evading a peace officer under another section of this statute.

4. Defenses to Evading a Peace Officer and Causing Death or Serious Bodily Injury

As described above, if the resulting death or injury was too remote and not a direct, natural or probable cause of the defendant’s conduct, that defendant would not be guilty of this offense. Additionally, if the resulting injury is minor or not serious, the defendant would not be criminally liable under the statute.

5. Penalties

When the defendant’s conduct results in serious injury to another person, this offense is a “wobbler” which can be charged as either a misdemeanor or a felony offense. If charged as a misdemeanor, the defendant can be sentenced to up to a year in jail, up to $10,000 in fines and victim restitution. If convicted as a felony, the defendant can be sentenced to up to seven years in prison.

When evading a peace officer results in the death of another person, this offense is always a felony that is punishable by up to 10 years in prison.

6. Criminal Defense for Evading a Peace Officer and Causing Death or Serious Bodily Injury

Evading a peace officer and causing death or serious bodily injury is a very serious offense that can result in lengthy prison sentences for those convicted. If you or a loved one have been charged with this offense, it is very important that you speak with a Los Angeles Criminal Defense Attorney right away. Los Angeles Criminal Defense Lawyer Michael Kraut is a former Deputy District Attorney with over 14 years of prosecutorial experience who is highly experienced at defending people charged with serious offenses like this.

For more information about evading a peace officer and causing death or serious bodily injury, and to schedule your free consultation, contact Los Angeles Criminal Defense Attorney 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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