FLEEING OR ELDUING (MISDEMEANOR/FELONY)
May 5, 2023
FLEEING OR ELUDING DEFENSE IN ILLINOIS
Fleeing or attempting to elude a peace officer, and it's aggravated variant, are very serious charges for two reasons. First, a conviction of this offense as a misdemeanor is considered a Class A, and as a Felony it is considered a Class 4 for first time offenders. Second, a first time conviction for this offense will also lead to the Secretary of State to suspend your license for a minimum of 6 months or more depending on your previous driving record. Therefore, it's important you have an experienced attorney to help you navigate this charge so as to not only protect your freedom, but also your driving privileges.
FLEEING OR ELUDING (MISDEMEANOR)
Being pulled over by the Police always seems to happen when you need it the least. You're already late for your destination, or perhaps you already know that your wallet is sitting at home in the drawer and so your mind begins to fill with thoughts as to what's about to happen. Whatever fears you may have in pulling your vehicle over, nothing that you can imagine compares to what will happen to you the moment you begin to speed away instead of adhering to the officer's directive to pull over. You are risking your life, the lives of other drivers on the road, and risking even more severe penalties when you are eventually apprehended.
In today's age most jurisdictions advise officer's to not give chase once a vehicle decides to pull of. Most of the time it's because a driver of the vehicle has already been identified, or at the very least, enough information on the vehicle in question is in the possession of the officer that a chase is unnecessary. It may seem as though you've gotten away, but only for the moment as usually within a day or so a knock will be heard at your door.
As far as the law is concerned, Section 11-204 of the Illinois Vehicle Code requires that when an officer directs you, either by an audio or visual signal, to stop your vehicle - then you stop your vehicle. Now the law also has additional caveats, such as:
(1) The officer giving the signal must be in a police uniform;
(2) If the officer is driving a squad car at the time of the signal, they must display illuminated oscillating, rotating, or flashing red or blue lights in addition to an audible horn or siren that would indicate that the vehicle they are operating is an official police vehicle.
These may seem trivial, but cases have been dismissed when either of these items are missing from the facts of cases. Police uniforms are not as uniform between jurisdictions, and so the definition of police uniform has evolved to the standard uniform worn by local jurisdictions. So much so, that even a vest with the words "POLICE," written on it has been found to be sufficient to satisfy this criteria.
You'll also notice that the law doesn't distinguish between marked or unmarked vehicles, meaning whether or not the vehicle in question has the insignia of the local jurisdiction. The question for the prosecutor is whether or not the squad car has the requisite oscillating lights and siren.
A conviction for this offense is considered to be a Class A misdemeanor, meaning the penalties can range from 1 to 364 days in the County Department of Corrections, a fine of up to $2,500.00 (plus mandatory statutory costs) or any combination of jail time and a fine.
Additionally, the Secretary of State will suspend your license for a minimum of 6 months after your conviction, the term of your suspension can be for a year if this is your second conviction of the charge.
If you are convicted a 3rd time for this offense, then the penalties increase to a Class 4, which carry with it 1 to 3 years in jail and a fine of up to $25,000.00.
AGGRAVATED FLEEING AND ELUDING
Aggravated Fleeing or Eluding follows the same elements that the misdemeanor version of this charge requires; however, the State will need to prove in addition to the previous elements one of the following in order to meet their burden for a conviction:
The accused drives 21 mph or more over the speed limit;
The accused causes bodily injury to any individual;
The accused causes property damage in excess of $300
The accused disregards 2 or more traffic control devices (these are stop signs, stop lights, etc.)
The accused conceals or alters the vehicle's registration plate (draping something over your license plate to prevent it from being read)
A conviction of this charge will result in a revocation of your license in addition to being classified as a Class 4 Felony, which carries with it penalties such as 1 to 3 years in jail and a fine of up to $25,000.00
Additionally, a second or subsequent offense could potentially be charged as a Class 3 felony, which can result in 2 to 5 years in jail and a fine of $25,000.00. Furthermore, the car driven by the accused will be seized by the State and subject to forfeiture.
Even if you are charged with Aggravated Fleeing or Eluding, there are many ways we can attack the specific facts of your case. There may be possible defenses available to you, such as mistaken identity or necessity, that will give you a viable reason for why you refrained from adhering to the officer's directive. Additionally, the ability of the State to prove these additional elements may be in question given the surrounding circumstances.
I recently took a case for Aggravated Fleeing or Eluding to a jury trial not too long ago. The accused was charged with disregarding 2 or more traffic control devices; and through my cross examination of the officer's on the stand, I had brought into question their observations of the accused failing to yield to traffic control devices. Additionally, I was able to have them testify as to the layout of the area, and the fact that the second supposed failure to yield occurred while the officer's were on foot and nearly 600 feet away from the stop sign in question. This line of questioning resulted in the Jury agreeing with my theory of the case, and my client, escaping a felony conviction being added to his record.
CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY JOSEPH S. ANGELILLO
Being charged with a crime doesn't mean that the State has the ability to prove you guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. Dependent on the circumstances of your case, there may be specifics in your case that allows us to be able to place the State of their heels in proving your guilt. You will need an attorney who knows how to properly analyze the evidence and apply that pressure to the State. If you've been charged with Fleeing and Eluding or Aggravated Fleeing or Eluding, contact my office now to schedule a free consultation!