In Florida, Is Evidence of Defendant Running From Police Admissible in Court?

Consider a situation where a crime occurs and the police believe they know who committed the crime. They obtain an arrest warrant, but they are not able to locate the suspect for some time. When they do find the suspect, the suspect runs from the police. At the defendant’s trial for the original crime, is evidence that the defendant ran from the police admissible at the trial for the original crime in Florida? It depends.

When a person runs from the police when the police are arresting that person for a crime that previously occurred, the prosecutor may not be allowed to introduce evidence of the defendant’s flight from police at the trial. It largely depends on how much longer the arrest, and the running from the police, occurred after the initial crime because the key question is whether it can be shown that the defendant ran from police due to consciousness of guilt for this particular crime. In other words, if the police are looking for person X for a robbery that occurred previously, can it be shown that person X ran from the police because he knew he was guilty of that robbery?

Obviously, one of the factors is how much time elapsed between the crime and the flight from police. The more time between those two events, the harder it is for the prosecutor to establish that the defendant had a reason to believe the police were looking for him for that particular crime. If the flight occurs a couple of days after the crime, it is more likely that evidence of the defendant running from police will be admitted at the trial. However, if it is months or years later, such evidence should not be admissible at the trial absent other facts suggesting the defendant knew the police were after him/her for that particular crime.

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