Drivers are expected to pull over when police officers activate the lights on their vehicles. Motorists who attempt to evade law enforcement through high-speed chases place innocent people at enormous risk.
Alleged offenders charged with speeding to elude arrest typically face additional criminal charges, but not every one of these cases involves an intentional, knowing attempt to break the law. Some people may not have been able to stop because of emergency situations while others may not have recognized there was a police cruiser behind them.
Were you recently arrested for allegedly fleeing or attempting to elude a law enforcement officer in North Carolina? You owe it to yourself to explore all of your possible legal defenses that could result in these criminal charges being reduced or dismissed.
Our Wake County criminal attorneys at Coolidge Law Firm aggressively defend clients throughout the Raleigh area, including students at such local institutions of higher learning as Wake Technical Community College (Wake Tech), Duke University, Meredith College, the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (UNC), William Peace University, North Carolina State University, and Shaw University. You can receive a complete evaluation of your case by calling (919) 239-8448 today to set up a free initial consultation.
North Carolina General Statute § 20-141.5 makes it a Class 1 misdemeanor for any person to operate a motor vehicle on a street, highway, or public vehicular area while fleeing or attempting to elude a law enforcement officer who is in the lawful performance of his duties. If an alleged offender is convicted of this offense, his driver’s license will be suspended for one year.
A person convicted of speeding to elude could also be sentenced to an active, intermediate, or community punishment under North Carolina’s structured sentencing system of punishment. This means that the possible sentence ranges for alleged offenders is determined by a combination of the degree of crime for which he has been convicted as well as his criminal record.
There are three Prior Conviction Levels for misdemeanor offenses, and the judge may get to choose whether the alleged offender is sentenced to a term of incarceration (active punishment), a term of supervised probation with a specific condition (intermediate punishment), or a supervised or unsupervised term of probation with no specific conditions (community punishment).
If a person is convicted of a Class 1 misdemeanor, the three possible sentencing ranges include:
If two or more of the aggravating factors listed under North Carolina General Statute § 20-141.5(b) are present when an alleged offender flees or attempts to elude a law enforcement officer, this crime becomes a Class H felony offense. Aggravating factors include:
It is also a Class H felony if there are less than two aggravating factors when an alleged offender speeds to elude arrest but the alleged offense is the proximate cause of the death of any person. A person who is convicted of felony fleeing to elude will have his driver’s license suspended for two years.
Additionally, the state’s “Run and You’re Done” law also means that the alleged offender could possibly lose his motor vehicle if he is convicted. North Carolina General Statute § 20-141.5(k) states that the vehicle driven by the alleged offender at the time of the felony offense becomes property of the state subject to forfeiture.
Persons convicted of any felony in North Carolina subject themselves to punishment under structured sentencing. Under these guidelines the judge must consider three things: the class of the felony, the criminal record of the convicted person, and any aggravating or mitigating factors. Felonies under structured sentencing include six prior record levels for those convicted and three ranges of punishment: aggravated, presumptive, or mitigated.
A person convicted of a Class H felony faces the following possible sentences:
When two or more of the aggravating factors listed above are present when an alleged offender flees or attempts to elude a law enforcement officer and the alleged offense is the proximate cause of the death of any person, this crime becomes a Class E felony. This triggers the same vehicle forfeiture provisions under the “Run and You’re Done” law and also leads to a two-year suspension of the alleged offender’s driver’s license.
For a Class E felony, the possible sentences become much more severe:
North Carolina State Highway Patrol — The State Highway Patrol has more than 1,600 troopers responsible for enforcing North Carolina traffic laws. On this website, you can find answers to frequently answered questions, comment on a trooper, and download documents and forms. Because of the size of this agency, the State Highway Patrol has been responsible for a bulk of speeding to elude vehicle forfeitures.
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North Carolina General Assembly | House Bill 427 — This is the bill better known as “Run and You're Done.” You can view all the versions of the bill as well as the history of North Carolina General Assembly chamber actions. It was signed into law by then-Governor Bev Perdue on June 23, 2011, and took effect in December that year.
If local or state police attempted to stop you for some traffic offense that turned into you allegedly fleeing or attempting to elude a law enforcement officer, it is in your best interest to immediately seek legal counsel. Coolidge Law Firm understands that many people charged with this crime had no intention of breaking the law, and we fight to prove their innocence.
Our firm helps clients facing criminal charges in communities throughout the greater Raleigh area, including Holly Springs, Apex, Zebulon, Cary, Garner, Fuquay-Varina, Morrisville, Rolesville, Wendell, Knightdale, and Wake Forest. You can have our Wake County criminal defense attorneys review your case as soon as you call (919) 239-8448 to schedule a free, confidential consultation.