Traffic stops can be stressful events even for law-abiding citizens. For people accused of a crime or with past criminal convictions, however, these ordeals can seem like the end of the world. In either case, once you see a police car’s flashing lights in your rearview mirror, you may feel tempted to flee. Yet, doing so meets the threshold for eluding the police, which can carry serious consequences.
Understanding what qualifies as eluding the police
Eluding the police usually happens when drivers try to avoid a traffic stop. Yet, it can also occur if you run from a police encounter on foot. In either case, for your actions to constitute an eluding offense, the following must be true beyond a reasonable doubt:
- A uniformed police officer was pursuing you
- You were driving the vehicle the uniformed police officer was pursuing or – if you were on foot – you attempted to flee them
- The uniformed police officer used visual or audible signs – like sirens, lights, hand gestures or voice commands – to make you stop
Understanding the penalties for eluding the police
You will receive misdemeanor charges if you are arrested for eluding the police in Maryland. If these charges lead to conviction, you could face up to one year of imprisonment, a fine of up to $1,000 or both. For a second or subsequent offense, you will pay a similar fine, yet could face up to two years of imprisonment.
Your sentence will stiffen, though, if your offense was a violent crime or resulted in the bodily injury of another person – whether a police officer or a third party. In these cases, you could face up to three years of imprisonment, a fine of up to $5,000 or both. And you could face harsher consequences still if your offense resulted in the death of another person. If convicted of your charges, you could face up to 10 years of imprisonment, a fine of up to $5,000 or both.
If you face charges for eluding the police, you will not want to work through them alone. With the help of a criminal defense attorney, you can understand your options for mitigating your potential consequences.