Fleeing Police – A Felony Offense
Fleeing police in a motor vehicle is a very serious offense in Minnesota and depending on the circumstances can lead to a maximum prison sentence of 40 years. The Minnesota statute specifies that fleeing means increasing speed, extinguish motor vehicle headlights or taillights, refusing to stop the vehicle, or use other means with intent to elude a police officer. The vehicle used is not limited to an automobile, but may also include watercraft, off-road recreational vehicles, or snowmobiles. The penalties for basic fleeing from police are maximum imprisonment of three years and/or a fine of $5,000.
What can make fleeing police an extremely severe crime is when a person is harmed or killed during the flight. If in the course of fleeing police a person dies, the defendant may face a maximum of 40 years imprisonment and/or a fine of $80,000. This death could be an innocent bystander, police officer, or another person in the fleeing vehicle. If the fleeing results in great bodily harm, imprisonment can be up to seven years and/or a fine of $14,000. If the flight results in substantial bodily harm the perpetrator could face a maximum of five years imprisonment and/or a fine of $10,000. These penalties don’t even include what the restitution would be to the victims or their families.
Additionally, fleeing police will almost certainly result in the defendant having their license revoked for a year or longer, and their vehicle forfeited. There is a separate process for each of these collateral consequences that must be met by the State. In particular, the vehicle forfeiture has a short turnaround time in which the State must provide notice to the owner and appear before a Court.
Fleeing police doesn’t require a vehicle and in those instances the punishment is much lighter as the potential to harm others is dramatically decreased. Usage of other means to flee police such as by foot or other means of non-motorized transportation is treated as a misdemeanor offense.
No matter your crime, or whatever you might be accused of, fleeing police will only make the situation that much worse. Additionally, committing this offense may give police more authority to search your vehicle and lead to even more charges.
Fleeing police is a serious crime with long-term consequences – not just in the criminal punishment sense, but also the collateral consequences to the defendant’s license, vehicle, and future employment prospects. It is critical to get an experienced fleeing police attorney on your side immediately. Contact us today.