California’s Vehicle Code 2800.1 makes it a crime to evade arrest. The law defines the offense as the act of actively running away from law enforcement officers or attempting to do so to avoid being arrested. This is a serious crime that may attract a harsh penalty, especially in the presence of aggravating factors. At the same time, it is not foreign for the police to misunderstand your intentions and assume you are evading arrest. If you are confronted with allegations of evading a police officer in Pasadena, we invite you to contact the California Criminal Law Group. We will analyze every factor of your case from the arrest and increase the odds of your charges being dropped or reduced.

The outcome of your case may highly depend on the factors revolving around your charges. To build a solid defense, we need to know whether the law enforcement officer was in full uniform and whether you understood their intention to pull you over. Sometimes, an alleged offender simply did not realize they were being pursued. Let us study all the facts of your case and ensure you have the best winning chances.

Vehicle Code § 2800.1 Defined

Under Vehicle Code 2800.1, it is unlawful to evade the police in pursuit of your automobile when they are executing their legitimate duties. You can be guilty of the offense whether the law enforcement officer in question is riding a motorbike or driving a patrol car.

VC 2800.1 is often charged as a misdemeanor. However, it can attract felony charges if you evade a police offer while driving recklessly. Moreover, the prosecution will impose felony charges if you have a felony conviction or your attempts to flee lead to the death or injury of another person.

Usually, the prosecution will decide on the charges to impose based on the aspects of a case. A crime may escalate into a felony when a defendant shows a disregard for the safety of other people or their property.

The elements of the offense are as follows:

  • You willfully evaded a police officer with the intent to dodge an arrest
  • The officer communicated by flashing the red lights
  • You saw the flashing red lights or should have seen them given the proximity between you and the officer
  • The law enforcement officer sounded the siren to get your attention
  • The police in pursuit of your vehicle had a marked automobile
  • The police officer wore distinctive police attire

Some of the essential terms you should understand include:


One of the key terms used to describe the crime of evading a police officer is the “willfulness” to commit the offense. For instance, you cannot face charges if you continue to drive because you couldn’t pull over for safety reasons. The law makes a “willful” act different from an involuntary or accidental one.


Moreover, the prosecution must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that you had the intent to elude or flee from the scene.

Marked Vehicle

We live in dangerous times, and the court cannot hold it against you if you failed to pull over because the vehicle in pursuit was unmarked. However, you have a case to answer if the police in pursuit were driving a marked motorbike, car, or bicycle. This simply implies that you should have known that the vehicle behind you belonged to a law enforcement officer on duty.

Red Light

Police vehicles will have at least one red light. When the authorities flash it, it should pass the message you need to pull over. Note that these red lights must meet specific visibility requirements that allow you to see when they are flashed. Again, you may be guilty of the charges imposed if you saw or should have seen the lights.

Police Attire/Uniform

Another element the prosecution must prove to make it challenging for a defendant to give an excuse for not pulling over is that the law enforcement officer wore a police uniform. Again, the different attire ensures that you can differentiate the police from random public members. It is possible to dodge the charges if the officer in question was in plain clothes. This is irrespective of whether they produced their badge after apprehending you.

Punishment for Violating VC 2800.1

Violating VC 2800.1 generally attracts misdemeanor charges. a conviction could result in the following penalty:

  • Jail time for up to 1 year
  • A fine not exceeding $1,000
  • Impoundment of your car for up to 1 month

As aforementioned, aggravating circumstances may escalate the charges to a felony. Often, the laws define offenses with these aggravating factors in different statutes. For instance, a Felony Reckless Evading is a crime under VC 2800.2. The wobbler offense could attract incarceration for up to 3 years and a fine not exceeding $10,000 if charged as a felony.

If the prosecution imposes misdemeanor charges, a first-time offender can benefit from summary probation instead of spending time behind bars. Having a skilled criminal defense attorney in your corner could increase your likelihood of avoiding time in jail.

Expungement of A VC 2800.1 Conviction from Your Record

Evading a police officer is a serious crime that can limit specific opportunities in life if you are convicted. The good news is that a competent criminal defense attorney can have your record expunged as long as you complete probation or serve your time behind bars. Moreover, you must not have any pending convictions or cases in court.

Record expungement offers post-conviction relief, ensuring that only selected persons in authority can view records of your arrest, charges, and conviction. After your record is expunged, employers and even landlords will not know whether you have faced criminal charges in the past.

Best Legal Defenses to Fight VC 2800.1 Charges

If you face charges for violating VC 2800.1, all is not lost. Proving that you are guilty as charged is never an easy affair, even for a seasoned prosecutor. Sometimes, people are caught up in unfortunate situations that make it appear as though they are trying to avoid pulling over.

Here are some of the best defenses a knowledgeable attorney could use to fight evading a police officer charges:

Lack of Intent

Before the prosecution can convict you, they must prove that you indeed evaded a police officer with the intent to avoid pulling over or a possible arrest. It could be that you did not see the flashing red light or the marked car, and you had no intention to flee.

You Did Not See or Recognize the Officer in Pursuit

There are various methods the police could use to make their presence and intentions known to a motorist. For instance, an officer could flash the red lights, run the siren or use a microphone. You should pull over immediately if you see the above warnings and notice the marked car and police uniform.

It could be that the law enforcement officer didn’t make their presence and intentions known using precise language. If the officer did not flash the red lights or run the siren, for instance, you could claim that you had no idea that the authorities were chasing your car. In short, you also had no intent to flee from the officer or avoid a possible arrest.

You must note that the police must use proper procedure when pulling you over. This ensures that you understand the message being communicated. You may not have a case to answer if the officer only waved their hands, and you did not know that this indicated you should pull over.

Your Actions Weren’t Willful

The prosecution bears the burden of proving that you acted willfully. They can do this by establishing that you saw or should have seen the warnings, such as the red lights. Your attorney may argue that even if you saw the signs, you could not have pulled over for safety reasons or an emergency.

Sometimes, defendants may appear to flee the scene, yet they are driving fast to avoid harm, such as a possible collision. You could also speed off because you have a patient whose life may depend on how quickly you can get to the hospital. Even though making an excuse for not stopping is not guaranteed to have the case dropped, it could be a basis for negotiating reduced charges or penalties.

You Were Not the One Driving Your Car

Another possible defense is that you were not the one behind the wheel. For instance, it could be that your car was stolen, and the thieves speed off to avoid an arrest. Proving this much is true can be complicated, and a skilled lawyer can help you demonstrate to the court that you were in a different location at the time of an incident.

You Were Under Threat/ Duress

If you are caught up in the commission of a crime, and the perpetrators demand that you speed off from the crime scene, you may have no option but to do as you are told. It could be that you had a gun pressed against your ribs, and you had reason to believe your life or safety was in danger. A competent attorney can bring the actual fall of events to light and possibly have the judge dismiss your case.

Offenses Related To Violating Vehicle Code Section 2800.1

Like most crimes, some criminal offenses are closely related to evading a police officer. Based on the fall of events that lead to your arrest, the prosecution may impose the following charges along with or in the place of VC 2800.1 charges:

Vehicle Code Section 2800.2— Reckless Evading Of A Peace Officer

VC 2800.2 and VC 2800.1 are similar in that both offenses involve evading a police officer. However, the former is the greater crime because the defendant portrays reckless conduct or a disregard for human life. Violating VC 2800.2 is a wobbler offense that attracts a steeper penalty.

Before conviction, the prosecution must prove the following elements beyond a reasonable doubt:

  • A police officer was pursuing you
  • Instead of pulling over, you fled or attempted to elude the officer
  • The law enforcement officer flashed the red light, and you saw it or should have seen it
  • The officer was driving a marked police car and wore a distinctive police uniform
  • The law enforcement officer sounded the siren to communicate further the need to pull over

Whether the prosecution will impose misdemeanor or felony charges will highly depend on the facts around an incident and your criminal history.

A misdemeanor conviction attracts the following punishment:

  • 6 to 12 months incarceration
  • A fine not exceeding $10,000

If convicted for a felony, the punishment may include:

  • Imprisonment for up to 3 years
  • A maximum fine of $10,000

Vehicle Code 2800.3—Evading an Officer Causing Death or Injury

VC 2800.3 describes the crime of evading a police officer and causing the death or injury of another person as you flee or attempt to do so. Like VC 2800.2, violating VC 2800.3 is a wobbler offense that may attract misdemeanor or felony charges depending on the facts around a case.

There are two elements the prosecution must prove beyond a shred of doubt. They include:

  • You evade a police officer as described under VC 2800.1
  • As you fled or attempted to do so, you lead to the serious bodily harm or death of another person

Again, it will also be necessary for the prosecution to prove intent, willfulness and that the officer drove a marked car, wore a police uniform, flashed the red light, and ran the siren.

In the VC 2800.3 statute, the word “serious bodily harm” may imply that the victim suffered any of the following injuries:

  • A concussion
  • Loss of consciousness
  • Bruising or wounds that require suturing or extensive treatment
  • Physical disfigurement
  • Bone fracture
  • Extended impairment or complete loss of a body part’s function

The prosecutors will consider the facts around an offense, your criminal history, and the extent of injuries suffered by the victim before deciding whether to impose felony or misdemeanor charges.

If you face misdemeanor charges, a conviction could lead to the following punishment:

  • Imprisonment in county jail for up to 1 year
  • A $2,000 to $10,000 fine

Here is the punishment for a felony conviction:

  • Jail time for 3, 5, or 7 years in state prison
  • A $2,000 to $10,000 fine

Note that the penalty for causing the death of another person while eluding the police is subject to a sentence enhancement. In this case, the punishment may include:

  • Imprisonment in state prison for 4, 6, or 10 years

Penal Code 148 PC – Resisting Arrest

California’s Penal Code 148 criminalizes the act of or attempting to resist, delay or obstruct a police officer, public officer, or emergency medical technician(EMT) from carrying out their duties. The offense is a misdemeanor that can attract the following penalties:

  • Imprisonment in county jail for up to 1 year
  • A maximum fine of $1,000

Before the prosecution can convict you, they must first prove the following elements:

  • You willfully resisted, obstructed, or delayed the police, a peace officer, or EMT on duty
  • You committed the offense as the official in question carried out their duties
  • You knew, or any reasonable person in your position should have known the official was performing official duties

A competent criminal defense attorney can convince the judge to impose summary probation instead of spending time in jail. Unfortunately, you may not qualify for this sentencing option if you have faced similar charges in the past two years, used physical force on the officer, or have a pending conviction or case.

Penal Code 415— Disturbing the Peace

If the prosecution lacks substantial evidence or your attorney does a pretty decent job negotiating, evading a police officer’s charges may be reduced to disturbing the peace. Penal Code 415 describes the offense as a range of acts that include but are not limited to:

  • Playing overly loud music
  • Fighting with someone in public
  • Causing a commotion
  • Using fighting words or offensive language

Disturbing the peace often attracts infraction charges, although the prosecution can impose misdemeanor charges based on the circumstances around an incident.

When the offense of disturbing the peace is charged as an infraction, the punishment may include:

  • Jail time for up to 90 days
  • A max fine of $400

Some aggravating factors that could lead to misdemeanor charges include disturbing the peace on school grounds or a prior conviction for the same offense.

Misdemeanor charges could attract the following penalties:

  • A jail sentence of up to 3 months
  • A fine not exceeding $1,000

Vehicle Code 20002 VC—Misdemeanor Hit & Run

Under VC 20002, it is a crime to flee the scene of an accident after causing property damage. The law tasks you to stop and provide your identification details and vehicle registration number. Note that fleeing the accident scene following the injury of another person constitutes a felony hit and run.

The prosecution will need to prove the following elements before you are convicted:

  • You were operating an automobile and were involved in an accident
  • The collision caused damage to the property of another person
  • You knew, or any reasonable person in your position should have known about the accident that resulted in property damage
  • You willfully refused to stop or fled the scene without providing the necessary information

A misdemeanor hit and run is punishable by:

  • A jail sentence of up to 6 months
  • A fine not exceeding $1,000

Again, a judge can impose summary probation and save you from spending time in jail. Moreover, the judge may dismiss the charges, especially if you agree to a civil compromise and pay full compensation to the victim. The latter option is only available to first-time offenders who were not intoxicated at the time of an accident.

If a hit and run incident results in the death or injury of another person, the prosecution will impose charges for violating VC 20001. Even with the term “felony” used to describe the offense, this is a wobbler crime that can attract misdemeanor or felony charges.

A conviction for misdemeanor charges is punishable by:

  • Jail time for up to 1 year
  • A fine between $1,000 and $10,000

The punishment for a felony conviction is as follows:

  • Imprisonment in state jail for up to 4 years
  • A fine between $1,000 and $10,000

Vehicle Code 23109(c) — Exhibition of Speed

Vehicle Code 23109(c) prohibits accelerating an automobile to dangerously high speed, also referred to as speed ex, flooring it, or street racing. Often, the prosecution can reduce an evading a police officer’s charge to the exhibition of speed as long as a defendant was sober during the incident.

Compared to reckless driving (VC 23103) or vehicular speeding (VC 22354), the exhibition of speed is the lesser offense. The prosecution must prove the following elements are true beyond a shred of doubt:

  • You drove a car, motorbike, or truck on the highway
  • When doing so, you accelerated to a dangerous or unsafe speed

A VC 23109(c) attracts misdemeanor charges. A conviction is punishable by:

  • A jail sentence of 24 hours to 90 days in county jail
  • A fine between $355 and $1,000

Irrespective of the charge(s) you face, a competent criminal defense attorney can provide invaluable help. The specialist will ensure your rights are well protected and help you build a reliable defense strategy. Depending on the prosecution’s case against you, an attorney can offer help by negotiating for a lesser charge, having your charges dismissed, or your sentence reduced.

Find a Pasadena Criminal Defense Attorney Near Me

Evading a police officer may be a misdemeanor, although it can quickly attract other charges with tougher penalties. Your best chance of avoiding harsh penalties is to contact a criminal defense attorney immediately after the police arrest you. At the Michele Ferroni Pasadena Criminal Attorney Law Firm in Pasadena, we have decades of combined experience setting up strong legal defenses for persons accused of driving crimes. Our top negotiation skills and close ties with the prosecution will increase your odds of enjoying a favorable outcome. Call our firm at 626-628-0564 for a 100% free and no-obligation consultation.