Felony Reckless Evading Law in California – Vehicle Code 2800.2 VC
The crime of felony reckless evading is defined under California Vehicle Code 2800.2 VC, which is also frequently called “felony evading police.”
The statute describes this crime as fleeing law enforcement by driving a vehicle with a willful disregard for the safety of other people or property.
In order to be charged with felony reckless evading under VC 2800.2, you must have:
- evaded police officers in your vehicle, and;
- driving your car in an extremely reckless and dangerous manner;
- while you were making an attempt to escape.
In California, and especially LA County with heavy traffic, felony reckless accusations are typically aggressively pursued by prosecutors.
You should expect the DA's office to seek a conviction that carries a mandatory minimum jail sentence.
In spite of the name, felony reckless evading under Vehicle Code 2800.2 is a California “wobbler” offense that can be filed as either a misdemeanor or felony.
Our Los Angeles criminal defense attorneys are providing more detailed information below.
Definition of VC 2800.2 Felony Evading Police
The definition of felony reckless evading is listed in California Vehicle Code 2800.2 VC:
- “Anyone who flees or attempts to elude pursuing police officers in a vehicle while driving in a willful or wanton disregard for the safety of persons or property.”
This definition has two crucial factors. First, you must evade law enforcement in a vehicle, and then drive recklessly with a willful disregard for the safety of other people or property.
What if someone was seriously injured or killed?
If the driver who was evading police caused serious bodily injury or death to another person during the chase, then they will normally face the more serious charge of “evading police causing injury or death,” defined under California Vehicle Code 2800.3 VC.
Factors a Prosecutor Must Prove for a VC 2800.2 Conviction
A prosecutor has to prove several different factors in order to obtain a conviction for felony reckless evading in violation of California Vehicle Code 2800.2 VC.
These factors are known as “elements of the crime,” and listed under CALCRIM 2181 Criminal Jury Instructions:
- police were pursuing you while driving a vehicle;
- you willfully fled from the police vehicle;
- police vehicle exhibited a visible red lamp and sounding siren;
- police officer was wearing a distinctive uniform;
- you evaded police in a vehicle;
- with a willful and wanton disregard for the safety of others or property.
It should be noted that fleeing undercover police officers in an unmarked car is not included under this statute.
Willful or wanton disregard for safety
So, what is a willful or wanton disregard for safety?
This important factor is what makes the difference between a misdemeanor evading police under Vehicle Code 2800.1 VC, with a felony reckless evading case under Vehicle Code 2800.2 VC.
A “wanton disregard for safety” means that you:
- were aware your conduct posed a risk of harm, but;
- you ignored the risk Intentionally, and;
- drove your car in a way that showed no regard for the safety of others.
There is no requirement that you caused any type of actual damage.
Penalties for a Felony Reckless Evading
As stated above, California Vehicle Code 2800.2 VC felony reckless evading is a “wobbler” offense which means the case can be filed as either a misdemeanor or felony crime.
If convicted of a misdemeanor reckless evading, it's punishable by:
- minimum of six months and up to 1 year in a county jail,
- maximum fine up to $1,000,
- summary probation.
If convicted of felony reckless evading, it's punishable by:
- 16 months, 2 years, or 3 years in a state prison,
- maximum fine up to $10,000,
- formal probation.
Also, a conviction will typically result in suspension on your driver's license and revocation. Your vehicle could be impounded for up to 30 days.
Related California crimes
- Vehicle Code 2800.1 VC – evading police,
- Vehicle Code 2800.3 VC – evading causing injury or death,
- Vehicle Code 23103 VC – reckless driving,
- Penal Code 148(a) PC – resisting arrest.
Evading a Police Officer - Vehicle Code 2800.1 VC
Evading arrest under California Vehicle Code 2800.1 is the crime of attempting to get away from a police officer, such as in a car chase or running away from an officer who has stopped you for some reason.
Being charged with this crime is a serious matter and requires an effective criminal defense attorney in order to bring a strong defense against the charges. Penalties for fleeing and eluding an officer can include conviction of a Class C Felony which can include jail time and suspension of your driver's license.
Prosecutors must be able to prove certain factors existed beyond a reasonable doubt in order to convict for fleeing and eluding:
- The officer gave a visual or audible signal to the person to stop the vehicle
- The accused was driving recklessly while trying to elude a pursuing police officer
- The officer attempting the stop was in uniform and was in a vehicle equipped with lights and sirens
There are many potential defenses to an evading arrest charge in Los Angeles. Did the police officer have his uniform on and was he in a marked vehicle? Were the sirens on during the pursuit? What speed was the person driving at that was considered “reckless”?
Defenses for Felony Reckless Evading Charges
If you have been charged with violating Vehicle Code 2800.2 felony reckless evading laws, our criminal attorneys can use a wide range of defenses.
We might be able to make an argument there was no intent to evade. As stated, one of the elements of the crime above is a prosecutor has to prove there was a specific intent to evade.
Perhaps we can challenge this requisite. Maybe it was late at night and you couldn't tell for sure it was a marked police vehicle.
Perhaps you were just driving to another location you believed was in order to remove yourself from danger, but there was never an intent to evade.
We might be able to make an argument there is insufficient evidence of reckless driving.
Perhaps an over aggressive prosecutor is attempting to turn a misdemeanor evading police to a felony crime, but the evidence simply doesn't support the allegations.
Perhaps we can prove your manner of driving was not a high risk of safety to other people.
Criminal Defense for California Evading Police Charges
A conviction for felony reckless evading under California Vehicle Code 2800.2 carries harsh penalties.
Our criminal defense lawyers will review the details of your case in order to determine a strategy for outcome.
We might be able to convince the prosecutor to not file formal criminal charges before court through a process known as prefiling intervention.
Further, perhaps we can negotiate for reduced charges or even get the case dismissed.
Cron, Israels & Stark is a top-ranked criminal defense law firm representing people throughout Southern California.
We are located at 11755 Wilshire Blvd, 15th Floor, Los Angeles, CA 90025. We also have an office at 401 Wilshire Blvd #1200, Santa Monica, CA 90401.
Contact our firm for a free case evaluation at (424) 372-3112.