In a recent criminal case that occurred west of Jacksonville, Florida a person was arrested and charged with fleeing or attempting to elude a police officer after he fled from a police officer trying to make a traffic stop. Fleeing or attempting to elude a police officer is a serious criminal charge in Florida. Assuming there is no accident or injuries as a result of the fleeing, tt is a third degree felony which can carry a maximum sentence of 5 years in prison.
In this case, the police officer testified that he saw the suspect driving a vehicle on which the taillights were broken. The police officer tried to stop the suspect, and the suspect fled in his vehicle. The suspect was ultimately caught and arrested.
In order for the state to prove the crime of fleeing or attempting to elude a police officer in Florida, the state must establish that the defendant intentionally tries to get away from a police officer’s vehicle that is properly marked with the police agency’s insignia and its siren and emergency lights activated. In other words, the state has to prove that the suspect intentionally tried to flee and would have known the person chasing him/her was a police officer because the police vehicle was properly marked and lit.
In this case, the police officer testified that he had his lights and sirens on and he was driving a marked vehicle. However, the police officer did not testify that his police vehicle had the police agency’s insignia on it. Because the state failed to establish this element, the case was thrown out.
The law says what it says, and if the police and the state do not prove every element of the crime, the case should get thrown out. In the case of a fleeing or attempting to elude a police officer charge in Florida, many police officers are driving unmarked vehicles or partially marked vehicles. If the state cannot prove that the person allegedly fleeing from the police officer knew or would have known he/she was fleeing from a police officer because the car was not properly marked, that charge should not hold up in court.