Virginia Attempt to Elude An Officer Charges
In Virginia, if a police officer signals for you to stop your car, it is a class 2 misdemeanor for you to continue driving in a willful or wanton disregard of the signal or to escape or elude the officer whether on foot, in your car, or by any other means. If the driver’s operation of the vehicle also interferes with or endangers the police vehicle or any person, the charge then becomes the class 6 felony. If a law enforcement officer is killed as part of the pursuit after you elude them, the charge will likely be a class 4 felony.
In Virginia, these charges are treated very seriously by prosecutors and judges and the penalties are very serious if convicted. As a result, it is important you consult with a Virginia traffic lawyer as soon as possible after begin charged with this offense.
Common Ways Attempting to Elude is Charged
The most common way that attempting to elude an officer charged is when someone makes a poor judgment call and in the heat of the moment they panic or gets scared and then don’t stop when the police turn on their siren and lights to pull them over.
Another common scenario is when someone is distracted or they’re under the influence or simply just oblivious to the police officer trying to pull them over and then the officer mistakes the driver’s disregard as being intentional.
There are also people who know that they will be facing jail time or serious consequences due to their history or because they have drugs in the car so they purposely attempt to elude the officer by trying to get away and avoid the penalties they’d be facing if they were caught.
Prosecution of These Charges
You can expect to receive very little sympathy because the judges and police officers view this as a complete disregard for authority and a disrespect for the law. So there is very little in terms of leniency for these types of charges. If there are multiple charges, sometimes the AEL charge will be used as a bargaining chip in a plea deal, with the commonwealth attorney agreeing to drop it in exchange for a guilty plea to the other charge.
How An Attorney Can Help
An attorney can help provide an alternative explanation for the defendant’s behavior in an attempt to have the charge reduced or ideally dismissed completely. For example, the attorney could demonstrate that the defendant reasonably believed he was being pursued by somebody that was not an officer which would be an affirmative defense to the charge.
An attorney can also help someone to better understand what the charges really mean and what they can expect from the court and from the judge. An attorney may provide peace of mind to someone unsure of what they’re up against and can be an excellent guide to the confusing court system and legal process.