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Evading Laws (VC 2800) in California- IE Criminal Defense

I. California Vehicle Code 2800: Evading Police


Legal Definition: This charge is defined and broken down by section, to explain different aspects of evading:

VC 2800.1(a) when you use your vehicle in an attempt to avoid police capture;

VC 2800.2(a) when you use your vehicle in an attempt to escape police capture and do so recklessly;

VC 2800.3(a) when you use your vehicle in an attempt to avoid police capture and cause serious bodily injury in that attempt;

VC 2800.4(b) when you use your vehicle in an attempt to avoid police capture and cause death in that attempt

For a person to be convicted of a violation of VC 2800.1(a), the prosecution must prove the following:

  1. A police officer driving a motor vehicle was pursuing you;
  2. You were also driving a motor vehicle, and willfully fled from, or tried to elude, the officer, intending to evade the officer; AND
  3. All of the following were true:

(a) There was at least one lighted red lamp visible from the front of the police officer’s vehicle;

(b) The defendant either saw or reasonably should have seen the lamp;

(c) The police officer’s vehicle was sounding a siren as reasonably necessary;

(d) The police officer’s vehicle was distinctively marked;

AND

(e) The police officer was wearing a distinctive uniform.

For a person to be convicted of a violation of VC 2800.2, the prosecution must prove the following:

  1. A police officer driving a motor vehicle was pursuing you;
  2. You were also driving a motor vehicle, and willfully fled from, or tried to elude, the officer, intending to evade the officer;
  3. During the pursuit, you drove with willful or wanton disregard for the safety of persons or property; AND
  4. All of the following were true:

(a) There was at least one lighted red lamp visible from the front of the police officer’s vehicle;

(b) The defendant either saw or reasonably should have seen the lamp;

(c) The police officer’s vehicle was sounding a siren as reasonably necessary;

(d) The police officer’s vehicle was distinctively marked;

AND

(e) The police officer was wearing a distinctive uniform.

II. What does this mean?


A person acts with wanton disregard for safety when (1) he or she is aware that his or her actions present a substantial and unjustifiable risk of harm, (2) and he or she intentionally ignores that risk. The person does not, however, have to intend to cause any harm or damage. Driving with willful or wanton disregard for the safety of persons or property includes, but is not limited to, causing damage to property while driving or committing three or more violations that are each assigned a traffic violation point.

Generally, this charge is involving some kind of knowledge that police are trying to pull you over in some way. Either you saw police, and deliberately tried to flee, or you were driving in such a way that it was wanton, or dangerous, to avoid possibly seeing police. It is not a defense to simply say you were driving so fast you couldn’t see police, as that falls under this section too. However, these charges are very fact-specific, therefore issues can arise in terms of what you or a reasonable person in your position actually did see while driving. Obviously, an officer that is driving an unmarked car, with no visible lights or lamps, cannot claim you were trying to evade if you reasonably did not know it was an officer behind you.

III. Penalties


Penalties under this section vary wildly based on what you are accused of:

  • VC 2800.1(a), is a misdemeanor offense where you be sentenced to upwards of one year in the County Jail. You would be required to serve 50% of that sentence, in addition to a lengthy driver’s license suspension.
  • VC 2800.2(a) is a wobbler offense. A wobbler offense is one that, based on certain mitigating or aggravating facts, can be charged as a misdemeanor offense, or a felony offense, depending on your criminal history. As a misdemeanor, you could be sentenced to up to one year in County Jail. If you are convicted of a felony, you could serve upwards of 16 months, two years, or three years in State Prison. You would be required to serve 50% of that sentence, in addition to a lengthy driver’s license suspension.
  • VC 2800.3(a) is a wobbler offense. A wobbler offense is one that, based on certain mitigating or aggravating facts, can be charged as a misdemeanor offense, or a felony offense depending on the seriousness of the injuries, the circumstances of the alleged evasion, and your criminal history. As a misdemeanor, you could be sentenced to up to one year in County Jail. If you are convicted of a felony, you could serve upwards of three, five, or seven years in State Prison. You would be required to serve 50% of that sentence, in addition to a lengthy driver’s license suspension.
  • VC 2800.3(b) is the most serious of these sections and is a felony only. If you are convicted, you could serve upwards of four, six, or ten years in State Prison. You would be required to serve 50% of that sentence, in addition to a likely lifetime driver’s license revocation.

IV. Common Defenses


  1. Statute of Limitations
  2. Insufficient Evidence
  3. Necessity
  4. Violation of your Rights

Here, a common and useful defense is that you did not see the police officer and therefore you did not intend to evade. This can happen in many different ways, and it falls back into whether or not the police officer is clearly visible, no siren wailing at a minimum of 120 decibels within a short distance of your vehicle, etc. Necessity can also be used here as well if for example your wife is in labor and you’re rushing her to the hospital. Or maybe you or a loved one was shot, and you were speeding and not stopping for police simply because you didn’t want yourself, or your friend to die. That seems like a justifiable defense to me.

V. Call Today


Many times police are not clearly marked and thus these cases can and have been successfully defended against. Many of the defenses listed above are relevant and useful in terms of a complete defense of the charge, or mitigation to reduce the charge or your possible custody time. Whether or not a dismissal or reduction is possible depends entirely on the facts of each individual case, the strength of any defense, and your criminal history. In addition, there is typically a severe license suspension with this charge of upwards of a year, to even a lifetime ban if convicted, which will affect you well outside and above any custody time you receive. You need someone who not only has experience but the time to investigate the police’s actions, as well as yours, to give you the best possible chance of freedom. Our VC 2800 Ontario attorney has successfully defended numerous cases involving violations of VC 2800 as well as many others. The initial consultation is free and we are available to answer your questions 24/7. Call the Inland Empire Criminal Defense today at 909-939-7126! Located in Ontario, CA.

Disclaimer: The legal information presented at this site should not be construed to be formal legal advice, nor should it be considered the formation of a lawyer or attorney-client relationship. If you would like to find out more information about your particular legal matter, contact our office for a consultation.

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