Evade and Elude Law: Misdemeanor or Felony?

In Virginia, law enforcement officers may charge someone with Evading and Eluding police anytime you fail to stop driving when properly commanded to stop. But within the Virginia Evade and Elude law, there are actually three different crimes. Each of the three crimes has completely different potential penalties, and each applies to a different factual scenario.  Let’s take a look at each of the three crimes that are contained within the Evade and Elude law (which is Virginia Code § 46.2-817).

Misdemeanor Evade and Elude

It is a misdemeanor to willfully and wantonly attempt to escape or elude a law-enforcement officer.  This law also specifically prohibits an individual from disregarding a law-enforcement officer’s visible or audible signal to bring a motor vehicle to a stop.  A violation of the part of the Evade and Elude law is a Class 2 misdemeanor. That means it has a possibility of up to six (6) months in jail and/or a $1,000 fine.  If convicted, your driver’s license may also be suspended for up to 30 days.

Class 6 Felony Evade and Elude

The second crime found within this law heightens the punishment when a person fails to bring his or her vehicle to a stop after receiving a visible or audible signal from law-enforcement and continues to drive the vehicle recklessly, causing danger to any person. If convicted under this part of the law, it is a Class 6 felony. That means there is a maximum punishment of up to five (5) years in jail.

Class 4 Felony Evade and Elude

Finally, the third crime within this law makes it a Class 4 felony when a person fails to bring his or her vehicle to a stop after receiving a visible or audible signal from law-enforcement, continues to drive the vehicle recklessly, causing danger to any person, and an officer is killed in the pursuit. This has a maximum punishment of ten (10) years in jail and a maximum fine of $100,000.

As you can see, each part of the Evade and Elude law has specific elements that must be proven by the Commonwealth before someone can be found guilty. The way to make sure the Commonwealth proves their case is to hire a lawyer with experience representing clients on this charge and related charges. If you need a lawyer to represent you on any level of Evading and Eluding, give me a call for a free consultation.