Fleeing/eluding an officer is a felony in Wisconsin.  Contact us immediately for help.  (414) 270-0202

Fleeing/eluding an officer is a Class I felony in Wisconsin.  Usually a fleeing or eluding charge is the result of a police pursuit.  The defendant fails to pull over after receiving an audio or visual signal from the officer, and then the defendant either hides or flees from the officer.  Generally a CCAP listing for this charge shows up as Vehicle Operator Flee/Elude Officer.  If a high-speed pursuit occurs, or other individuals are put at risk during the incident, frequently recklessly endangering safety charges accompany fleeing and eluding charges.

Class I felonies are punishable by up to 3.5 years in prison.  While this is certainly on the lower end of the felony spectrum, prosecutors in certain communities frequently request prison sentences during plea negotiations.  Milwaukee County is an example of this, where police chases have resulted in serious car accidents and deaths.

At Van Severen Law Office we regularly defend individuals facing fleeing/eluding charges.  Whether this is your first offense or not, you certainly need a top criminal defense attorney on your side.  You’ll find that at Van Severen Law Office   All of our criminal defense attorneys are veterans, with a significant amount of experience inside the court room.  Whether you’re looking for the best deal on your charge, or you’re looking to fight your case through jury trial, we have your back.  Contact us immediately at (414) 270-0202.  Let’s start fighting your case.

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What is fleeing/eluding an officer?

Section 364.04(3) of the Wisconsin Statutes prohibits fleeing or eluding an officer.  The law says:

(3) No operator of a vehicle, after having received a visual or audible signal from a traffic officer, federal law enforcement officer, or marked or unmarked police vehicle that the operator knows or reasonably should know is being operated by a law enforcement officer, shall knowingly flee or attempt to elude any officer by willful or wanton disregard of such signal so as to interfere with or endanger the operation of the police vehicle, the traffic officer, the law enforcement officer, other vehicles, or pedestrians, nor shall the operator increase the speed of the operator’s vehicle or extinguish the lights of the vehicle in an attempt to elude or flee.

There’s a few parts to this, but examining the jury instructions (which provide the elements of the crime) will help us break this down.

What are the elements of this offense?

Elements are the parts of a crime the government must prove beyond a reasonable doubt.  Each crime has elements.  And if the government cannot prove all the elements beyond a reasonable doubt, the defendant cannot be found guilty.

Wisconsin Criminal Jury Instruction 2630 describes fleeing/eluding an officer:

  • Firstly, the defendant operated a motor vehicle on a highway after receiving a (visual/audible) signal from a (traffic officer/federal law enforcement officer/marked police vehicle/unmarked police vehicle) that the person knows or reasonably should know is being operated by a law enforcement officer.
  • Secondly, the defendant knowingly (fled/attempted to elude) an officer by willful disregard of the visual or audible signal so as to interfere with or endanger the operation of (the police vehicle/the traffic officer/other vehicles/pedestrians) by either:
    • increasing the speed of the vehicle in an attempt to elude or to flee.
    • extinguishing the lights of the vehicle in an attempt to elude or to flee.

Traffic officer means every officer authorized by law to direct or regulate traffic or to make arrests for violation of traffic regulations.

What penalties do I face for fleeing/eluding in Wisconsin?

Fleeing and eluding is a Class I felony in Wisconsin.  That means that upon conviction the defendant faces up to 3.5 years prison.  That 3.5 year penalty breaks down into 1.5 years initial confinement (actual time in prison) and 2 years extended supervision.

As previously mentioned, urban counties, such as Milwaukee County, take a much harder stance on this charge than others.  Frequently prosecutors will recommend prison as a part of the plea deal.  They’ll also try to increase the penalties by adding other counts, typically including charges like recklessly endangering safety.

In more-rural counties, prosecutors may approach these charges less seriously, agreeing to a reduction from felony-level offenses.  Probation is certainly a possibility depending on the circumstances.  Certainly fleeing/eluding is also on the mitigated end when the version of the offense involves the defendant simply turning his lights off to elude.

But it’s important to remember a few things.  First, you have a right to trial.  Second, you have a right to file motions.  And third, even if you do agree to a plea offer, it only matters what the judge thinks.  If the judge thinks you should walk away with a minimal penalty, and your attorney makes a good argument for that penalty, that could certainly be the result.

How do we win my case?

Every criminal defense attorney at Van Severen Law Office has trial experience.  All of us are prepared to defend you all the way through trial.  And for fleeing or eluding cases, it’s important that your defense attorney aggressively fight your charge.  These cases don’t always involve a physical arrest of the defendant.  Sometimes, in the case where the defendant escapes police arrest, the case revolves around a police identification.  If that police identification is questionable, that could lead to dismissal of the case as early as the preliminary hearing.  If not, it could lead to a good trial argument.

In other situations, especially those involving motorcycles, police identification of the defendant is simply impossible.  Instead, the government will rely on the identification of the vehicle, typically involving the make, model, color, and license plate number of the vehicle.  They might go further and rely on the build of the defendant.  Simply identifying the vehicle, even if the defendant does own it, is a weak strategy for the government.  A top Wisconsin criminal defense attorney will challenge that weak theory.

A police offering pursuing a suspect.
Fleeing/eluding is a felony charge in Wisconsin. Contact our criminal defense attorneys immediately for help.

Finally, contact a top Wisconsin criminal defense attorney for help.

Our criminal defense attorneys have helped thousands of individuals in situations similar to yours.  Although we recognize that you might feel embarrassed, ashamed, or angry about your situation, you need the help of a professional.  At Van Severen Law Office you’ll meet several of those professionals who can help you navigate the road forward.  Clients, peers, and independent evaluators consistently recognize our attorneys as among the best in Wisconsin.

Fleeing and eluding is certainly a charge that could send you to prison.  Do not rely on a part-time criminal defense attorney or a general practitioner for help.  You need a specialist.  You need the kind of attorney you’ll find at Van Severen Law Office

Finally, know that you can reach our criminal defense attorneys 24/7.  We certainly recognize that things happens on the weekends and after 5pm, and that’s why we make sure our phones are answered 24/7.  Let’s start fighting your case – call us at (414) 270-0202.

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