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What Are The Penalties For Fleeing And Eluding In Michigan?

Fleeing and eluding in michigan legal grounds and penalties

High speed police chases are exciting to watch on television and often make for great visuals in action films. In reality, these pursuits are extremely dangerous and endanger the lives of the drivers, police officers and innocent bystanders alike. To discourage this reckless behavior, the Michigan Legislature has instituted tough penalties for individuals who dare to flee and elude police officers trying to perform their duties.

Fleeing and eluding is a general intent crime, meaning that the prosecutor needs only to show proof that the individual intended to do the physical act of fleeing and eluding, and is not required prove that the individual intended a particular result or specific consequence. People v Abramski, 257 Mich App 71; 665 NW2d 501 (2003). The individual must have refused to obey the order of the police officer by trying to get away, which can be evidenced by the individual speeding up his vehicle or turning off its lights among other things. People v Grayer, 235 Mich App 737; 599 NW2d 527 (1999), appeal after remand, 252 Mich App 349; 651 NW2d 818 (2002). The prosecutor does not have to necessary show that the individual’s velocity exceeded a certain level or that the speeding occurred over a certain distance.

There are four categories of fleeing and eluding crimes in Michigan, each with progressively worse penalties to address the escalation in criminal conduct:

FLEEING AND ELUDING – FOURTH DEGREE

  • An individual is guilty of the crime of fleeing and eluding in the fourth degree, contrary to MCL 257.602a(2) and MCL 750.479a(2), if the prosecutor can prove all of the following elements beyond a reasonable doubt (Model Criminal Jury Instruction 13.6d):
    • First, that a police officer was in uniform and was performing his or her lawful duties and that any vehicle driven by the officer was adequately marked as a law enforcement vehicle.
    • Second, that the defendant was driving a motor vehicle.
    • Third, that the officer ordered that the defendant stop his or her vehicle.
    • Fourth, that the defendant knew of the order.
    • Fifth, that the defendant refused to obey the order by trying to flee or avoid being caught.
  • The penalties for fleeing and eluding in the fourth degree are punishable by a felony conviction as follows:
    • Imprisonment up to 2 years.
    • A fine up to $500.00.
    • Driver’s License is suspended for one year (revoked if this is a second offense).
    • 6 points added to your Michigan driving record.

FLEEING AND ELUDING – THIRD DEGREE

  • An individual is guilty of the crime of fleeing and eluding in the third degree, contrary to MCL 257.602a(3) and MCL 750.479a(3), if the prosecutor can prove all of the following elements beyond a reasonable doubt (Model Criminal Jury Instruction 13.6c):
    • First, that a police officer was in uniform and was performing his or her lawful duties and that any vehicle driven by the officer was adequately marked as a law enforcement vehicle.
    • Second, that the defendant was driving a motor vehicle.
    • Third, that the officer ordered that the defendant stop his or her vehicle.
    • Fourth, that the defendant knew of the order.
    • Fifth, that the defendant refused to obey the order by trying to flee or avoid being caught.
    • Sixth, that the violation resulted in a collision or accident OR some portion of the violation took place in an area where the speed limit was 35 miles per hour or less whether as posted or as a matter of law OR that the defendant has a prior conviction for fleeing and eluding in the fourth-degree, attempted fleeing and eluding in the fourth-degree, or fleeing and eluding under a current or former law of this state prohibiting substantially similar conduct.
  • The penalties for fleeing and eluding in the third degree are punishable by a felony conviction as follows:
    • Imprisonment up to 5 years.
    • A fine up to $1,000.00.
    • Driver’s License is suspended for one year (revoked if this is a second offense).
    • 6 points added to your Michigan driving record.

FLEEING AND ELUDING – SECOND DEGREE

  • An individual is guilty of the crime of fleeing and eluding in the second degree, contrary to MCL 257.602a(4) and MCL 750.479a(4), if the prosecutor can prove all of the following elements beyond a reasonable doubt (Model Criminal Jury Instruction 13.6b):
    • First, that a police officer was in uniform and was performing his or her lawful duties and that any vehicle driven by the officer was adequately marked as a law enforcement vehicle.
    • Second, that the defendant was driving a motor vehicle.
    • Third, that the officer ordered that the defendant stop his or her vehicle.
    • Fourth, that the defendant knew of the order.
    • Fifth, that the defendant refused to obey the order by trying to flee or avoid being caught.
    • Sixth, that the violation resulted in serious impairment of a body function to an individual OR that the defendant has one or more prior convictions for first-, second-, or third-degree fleeing and eluding; attempted first-, second-, or third-degree fleeing and eluding; or fleeing and eluding under a current or former law of this state prohibiting substantially similar conduct OR that the defendant has any combination of two or more prior convictions for fourth-degree fleeing and eluding, attempted fourth-degree fleeing and eluding, or fleeing and eluding under a current or former law of this state prohibiting substantially similar conduct.
  • “Serious impairment of a body function” as defined in MCL 257.57c includes, but is not limited to, one or more of the following:
    • Loss of a limb or loss of use of a limb.
    • Loss of a foot, hand, finger, or thumb or loss of use of a foot, hand, finger, or thumb.
    • Loss of an eye or ear or loss of use of an eye or ear.
    • Loss or substantial impairment of a bodily function.
    • Serious visible disfigurement.
    • A comatose state that lasts for more than 3 days.
    • Measurable brain or mental impairment.
    • A skull fracture or other serious bone fracture.
    • Subdural hemorrhage or subdural hematoma.
    • Loss of an organ.
  • The penalties for fleeing and eluding in the second degree are punishable by a felony conviction as follows:
    • Imprisonment up to 10 years.
    • A fine up to $5,000.00.
    • Driver’s License is revoked for at least one to five years.
    • 6 points added to your Michigan driving record.

FLEEING AND ELUDING – FIRST DEGREE

  • An individual is guilty of the crime of fleeing and eluding in the first degree, contrary to MCL 257.602a(5) and MCL 750.479a(5), if the prosecutor can prove all of the following elements beyond a reasonable doubt (Model Criminal Jury Instruction 13.6a):
    • First, that a police officer was in uniform and was performing his or her lawful duties, and that any vehicle driven by the officer was adequately marked as a law enforcement vehicle.
    • Second, that the defendant was driving a motor vehicle.
    • Third, that the officer ordered that the defendant stop his or her vehicle.
    • Fourth, that the defendant knew of the order.
    • Fifth, that the defendant refused to obey the order by trying to flee or avoid being caught.
    • Sixth, that the violation resulted in the death of another individual. The prosecutor must establish factual causation, not proximate causation, that the individual’s criminal conduct was the cause of another individual’s death (e.g. but for the individual’s fleeing and eluding, would the death have occurred?). People v Wood, 276 Mich App 669, 741 NW2d 574 (2007).
  • The penalties for fleeing and eluding in the first degree are punishable by a felony conviction as follows:
    • Imprisonment up to 15 years.
    • A fine up to $10,000.00.
    • Driver’s License is revoked for at least one to five years.
    • 6 points added to your Michigan driving record.

Fleeing and eluding puts the lives of police officers and the general public at risk, so it can be assured that judges would deal with the matter harshly at sentencing. An aggressive defense is absolutely necessary to ensure that the prosecutor is held to his standard of proof so that the accused is not facing substantial fines or lengthy prison sentences based on flimsy evidence. If you or a loved one is charged with fleeing and eluding or any other criminal act, do not hesitate to contact the experienced attorneys at Kershaw, Vititoe & Jedinak PLC to protect your rights today.

 

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