Various criminal charges apply when you run from the police. But what are they? Our criminal defense attorneys explain:
We see people run from police on television all the time. Sometimes we see it in real life. Taking these actions will likely result in criminal charges, in addition to liability attached to whatever you’re running from. How serious those charges are depend on a few circumstances. For example, was the defendant in a vehicle when he fled from the police? This is a felony called fleeing and eluding. Was the defendant on foot when he ran away? The misdemeanor criminal charge for fleeing police officers, on foot, while they’re trying to conduct a lawful stop or arrest is called resisting an officer.
Unfortunately, in certain communities throughout Wisconsin, such as Milwaukee, prosecutors regularly try to send individuals charged with fleeing and eluding to prison. They often add additional charges in a way that compounds the trouble you’re in. These situations become very serious, very quickly.
What’s the best way to counter this? We think that hiring a top Wisconsin criminal defense attorney is a great start. An experienced, aggressive criminal defense lawyer understands the charges you’re facing, the way your county’s courtrooms operate, and the best ways to counter aggressive police and prosecutors. If you’re seeking representation for this charge, contact Van Severen Law Office, S.C. for help at (414) 270-0202. We have multiple offices throughout Wisconsin and represent individuals wherever they need help.
Contact us now to set up a free consultation.
What happens when you run from police on foot? Resisting an officer – Section 946.41 of the Wisconsin Statutes
Section 946.41 of the Wisconsin Statutes is titled “resisting or obstructing an officer. Obstructing an officer generally applies to situations where and individual intentionally lies or misleads the police. But resisting an officer applies to situations where someone does something physical, such as run from the police.
The law indicates:
(1) Except as provided in subs. (2m) and (2r), whoever knowingly resists or obstructs an officer while such officer is doing any act in an official capacity and with lawful authority is guilty of a Class A misdemeanor.
Subsections (2m) and (2r) aren’t relevant to our discussion, as they have nothing to do with running from the police. A more important part of this law is that the officer “is doing any act in an official capacity and with lawful authority.” While the actions considered in an official capacity and with lawful authority are broad, let’s consider a simple one: the defendant has committed a separate crime, and the officer is seeking to arrest the defendant. Or even easier – the defendant pulls over a vehicle to investigate a speeding violation, and the defendant exits the vehicle and flees.
Running from the cops on foot is a Class A misdemeanor, punishable by up to 9 months in jail, $10,000.00 in fines, or both. There’s no minimum penalty for this offense, so a conviction could result in a fine or probation. Time in jail is not required. But what happens in a more serious situation, when someone runs from police in a vehicle?
In a vehicle? Operating a motor vehicle to flee or in an attempt to elude an officer – Section 346.04(3) of the Wisconsin Statutes
Section 346.04(3) of the Wisconsin Statutes describes a crime called fleeing/eluding:
(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.
This is the crime you’ll be charged with if you run from the police while operating a motor vehicle. It does not need to be a vehicle owned by you, but simply one you’re operating at that time. Importantly, ignorance of a police vehicle following you is a defense to this charge, as it requires that the defendant “knowingly flee or attempt to elude any officer by willful or wanton disregard of such signal.” This is usually not a strong defense, as it’s tough to claim the driver of the vehicle didn’t notice the sirens or bright lights following him.
Running from police while driving a vehicle is a Class I felony, punishable by up to 3.5 years in prison, $10,000.00 in fines, or both. Unfortunately, in certain communities, such as Milwaukee, where reckless driving is a major problem, defendants convicted of this offense face the very real possibility of going to prison. But what makes this even more likely? Additional charges:
Second-degree recklessly endangering safety charges often accompany fleeing/eluding charges
Fleeing from the police in a vehicle is dangerous. Because of this, frequently second-degree recklessly endangering safety charges are added to a fleeing/eluding case.
Section 941.30(2) of the Wisconsin Statutes describes second-degree recklessly endangering safety:
(2) Second-degree recklessly endangering safety. Whoever recklessly endangers another’s safety is guilty of a Class G felony.
Obviously this charge only applies if there’s other traffic you encounter while fleeing. If the roads are empty and the cops aren’t close to you, you’re not endangering anyone else’s safety. In “normal” circumstances, fleeing on foot doesn’t endanger anyone else, and therefore won’t result in second-degree recklessly endangering safety charges.
Second-degree recklessly endangering safety is a Class G felony in Wisconsin. A conviction for this offense carries with it 10 years prison, $25,000.00, or both. Considering these penalties, it’s clear why prosecutors like to add this charge to a fleeing case.
Various criminal charges apply when you run from the police. Contact Van Severen Law Office, S.C. for help with these, or any other, criminal charges.
Running from the police is incredibly dangerous. They’re likely to point firearms at you and probably won’t be gentle when they finally do catch up to you. If you decide to flee in a vehicle, prosecutors and the judge announcing your sentence both probably want to send you to prison. This is not an optimal life position to be in, but one basic choice could significantly help your chances of moving through this situation successfully. And that’s the lawyer you hire.
Not everyone who graduates law school and earns a law license knows how to defend criminal charges. That’s not the case at Van Severen Law Office, S.C. Our firm specializes in helping people facing criminal charges. It’s all we do. And it’s all we’ve ever done. We’re in the unique position to provide you specialized representation when facing serious charges such as these.
Contact us at (414) 270-0202 to learn more about what happens when you flee from police, or if you’re seeking representation from one of our attorneys. We offer free consultations.