What are Possible Penalties in New Jersey for Eluding?

  • Criminal Defense

We all may get stopped by the police, and it’s never a great feeling. If you panic, however, and don’t pull over, or worse try to flee or elude them, it could get you in profoundly serious legal trouble.

Even a conviction for third-degree eluding could result in a fine of up to $15,000 and 3-5 years in prison. A second-degree eluding charge can impose a fine of $150,000, and 5-10 years in prison! New Jersey most definitely views eluding as a serious offense.

While driving your car, if you knowingly attempt to flee or elude a law enforcement officer after having received a signal to bring the vehicle to a stop, it could result in a third-degree eluding offense. The charge, however, can become a second-degree offense if you attempt to flee or elude, and while doing so it creates a risk of death or significant injury to others. A criminal conviction for eluding will usually include jail time and a driver’s license suspension of six months and up to two years.

Escalation of your eluding charge to a second-degree crime under New Jersey law is significant, as it may result (even if you’re a first-time offender) in you losing the opportunity for pretrial intervention and the presumption of non-incarceration (not going to jail or prison).

The key distinction in deciding between a 2nd or 3rd-degree offense is whether you placed the public in danger of severe injury or death due to your actions. This view includes the police officers who were chasing you, and by eluding, putting their lives in danger.

So, eluding usually will have grave consequences and you should never take this charge lightly. By consulting with an experienced and competent Toms River criminal defense lawyer, you may be able to get ahead of these charges, and seriously reduce or mitigate the consequences you face.

What Are the “Elements of Proof” For a Third-Degree Eluding Conviction?

The prosecuting attorney must prove four core elements to convict you for third-degree eluding.

The state of New Jersey must prove, beyond a reasonable doubt, that you as the accused:

  • Were operating the car, or motor vehicle, at the time.
  • You operated the vehicle on a street or highway.
  • You were signaled to stop by someone you knew or should have known was a police officer or law enforcement.
  • You failed to stop or pull over to elude the police.

If all these facts are proven, then the prosecutor has proven a third-degree crime for eluding.

To escalate the charge to a second-degree eluding offense, the prosecutor must establish an added element; “that you, as the motorist, created a risk of death or injury during your flight.”

It’s particularly important to note, that a presumption that such a risk was created is triggered when, while eluding, you violated any motor vehicle laws. As an example, you driving above the speed limit would create a presumption that there was a risk of death or injury to support you being charged with the more serious charge of second-degree eluding.

This is exactly where your knowledgeable, experienced criminal defense lawyer is vital. Your lawyer will do all that’s possible to avoid a second-degree eluding charge or mitigate any of the charges against you.

What Are Some Defenses My Lawyer May Use To Defend My Eluding Charge?

If you are charged with eluding or fleeing police in New Jersey, your criminal defense lawyer has various defenses that can be used on your behalf, including:

  • The police car was unmarked or not marked clearly.
  • The driver of the police car was not wearing a police uniform or badge.
  • You were in fear for your safety, but when determining whether this is valid, the court may consider:
    • When, where, and how the attempted stop happened.
    • The type and make of car the officer was driving.
    • Your behavior as you were being followed.
    • Whether, or not, you stopped only when you felt it was safe to do so.

These are only a few examples that your lawyer may use in defense of your charges so your jail time and fines don’t escalate. If the state cannot prove, beyond doubt, that you were intending to elude, then it may even be possible to get your charges dropped.

Examples of Other Factors That Could Make My Eluding Charges Worse.

Minor eluding offenses, may under certain circumstances, be charged as a second-degree misdemeanor, and your conviction could result in a $5,000 fine and up to 2 years in jail. But there are certain things, which you may be found guilty of, that will severely increase your consequences, and increase your charges to 2nd or 3rd-degree felonies.

Some examples of these exacerbating factors are:

You were driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol (DUI).
As you attempted to elude you crossed state lines.
You seriously put the lives of others at risk because you engaged in an extreme high-speed chase.

If any of the above factors (and there are others) were involved, your offense may be charged as a third-degree (or even second degree)felony, which could incarcerate you for up to 7 years (or more) in prison and up to $15,000 (or more) in fines.

As most criminal cases can be legally complex, you see the dire need to get the advice, direction, and guidance you need as soon as you are charged.

I Am Facing An Eluding Charge in New Jersey, What Should I Do First?

You previously may have felt that an eluding charge was simply not that serious, but in New Jersey, this is certainly not the case! If you are facing a charge of eluding the police, make sure you get the skilled lawyers you need on your side immediately, as the faster you act, the better your chances of your consequences being less severe. The New Jersey defense lawyers at the Hernandez Law Firm, LLC have the skills, knowledge, and resources necessary to fight tirelessly to protect your rights. Don’t let an eluding charge get out of hand and escalate. Consult with the Hernandez Law Firm today, and secure a bright tomorrow for you, and your family.

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