Being pulled over by a law enforcement officer can be incredibly stressful. From the moment those lights flash, your mind starts to race. It’s important to remain calm and look for a safe place to pull over. The same is true for other legitimate police commands when you’re not in your vehicle. When an officer asks you to do something (or stop doing something), it’s in your best interests to follow orders.
Relevant Sections of the Criminal Code of Canada 249.1.
249.1 (1) Everyone commits an offence who, operating a motor vehicle while being pursued by a peace officer operating a motor vehicle, fails, without reasonable excuse and in order to evade the peace officer, to stop the vehicle as soon as is reasonable in the circumstances.
(2) Everyone who commits an offence under subsection (1)
Anybody who fails to stop can be convicted of the offence and be subject to a fine of not less than $1,000 and not more than $10,000, to imprisonment for a term of not more than 6 months, or to both a fine and imprisonment.
If you are convicted of willfully avoiding police when an officer gives pursuit, you can face more serious penalties which could be a fine between $5,000 and $25,000 as well as a minimum imprisonment for a term of not less than 14 days and not more than six months. In addition, a driver’s licence will be suspended for five years, or 10 years to lifetime if there was death or bodily harm to any person.
There are very few legal defenses to evading a police officer. You should consider all of them before you accept a plea bargain agreement.
Your attorney will apply these defenses to help you become acquitted, per the facts of your case. Some of these defenses are:
Lack of Intent – The prosecution must prove you had the specific intent to evade the officer. This means you specifically intended the prohibited result, i.e. to get away or lose the officer. Often, we see evading an officer in the context of a DUI. If our client is so drunk or high that he does not realize an officer is attempting to pull him over, he cannot have the specific intent required for this crime (even if the intoxication is voluntary), although our client will most certainly face DUI charges.
Emergency – You might have been rushing to solve a particular problem when the law enforcement officer motioned you to pull over. Maybe you were taking your pregnant wife, who was in labor pains, to the hospital so that she can give birth. Or perhaps, you had run late for an interview of your dream job.
If you choose to use this defense, you will have to prove to the court that the emergency existed. You can solely rely on oral testimonials from people who knew that you had an emergency the day when you were arrested.
Mistaken Identity – Being hard of hearing, having poor eyesight, or simply being distracted can all contribute an inability to identify an officer pulling you over. In some cases, you could argue you were intoxicated at the time and didn’t realize you were being pulled over. The problem with that defense is you could face DUI charges, but a DUI could potentially carry a lesser sentence.
Unmarked vehicle or officer – If the officer was in plain clothes who was in an unmarked police car and didn’t properly identify him or herself as a law enforcement agent, then you didn’t know you were dealing with a police officer and, thus, not intending to evade arrest or detention.
Duress / Threats – Your actions may be excused if you can prove that you were forced or under duress when you evaded the police. Typically you will need to prove that you were under a realistic threat of violence or actual violence to be able to use this defense.
If you are stopped by a police officer, obey the officer’s instructions. Do not resist. Do not run away. Do not make any sudden movements and keep your hands visible at all times. Resisting arrest can endanger you and result in charges against you, even if the original arrest or stop was invalid. Disobeying an officer, running away, or resisting arrest can only get you in more trouble.
If you are charged with Flight from Police there are a number of possible favourable resolutions to your situation. The result of your case will depend on the factual allegations and whether the Crown can prove all elements of the charge. We will mount the best defence for you, whether that means fighting the allegation in a trial, negotiating a less serious charge that will get your license back as soon as possible, or any other possible options.
The very first step of bringing client onboard is to have a no obligation consultation.
Then comes the evaluation of the situation. And building the case background.
After building the whole case, now is the time to fight it in the court.
As we fight the case, we keep on collecting more information to support the case.