You may not know how to react to a law enforcement officer trying to pull you over. You might have had a bad prior experience with a police officer that makes you afraid to stop or believe you have illegal items in your vehicle that could incriminate you. You may have simply made the wrong choice in the moment. Whatever the situation, if you are facing unlawful flight charges in Arizona, you need an experienced defense attorney by your side. This a felony crime in Arizona that can come with serious penalties.
Unlawful flight, or fleeing from the police, is illegal under Arizona Revised Statute 28-622.01. This law prohibits a driver from willfully fleeing or attempting to elude a law enforcement vehicle acting within its official duties. ARS 28-622.01 makes it illegal to flee from an officer in certain situations. Specific elements must apply to the case to charge someone with unlawful flight in Arizona:
If your defense lawyer in Phoenix can prove one or more of these elements were not in place during the alleged crime, the courts may drop the unlawful flight charge against you. The prosecution will bear the burden of proving the existence of all the necessary elements to achieve a conviction. It is important to work with a defense attorney who understands this crime and how to combat allegations by dismantling the case against you.
Breaking ARS 28-622.01 by fleeing from the police is a class 5 felony in Arizona. It does not matter why the police officer was making the original traffic stop – whether it was for an expired registration or if you were a wanted person with a warrant out for your arrest. If you fail to stop while pursued by a police officer with his or her lights and/or siren on, it is a class 5 felony offense in Arizona.
Arizona has six classifications of felonies, with one being the most severe and six the least. All felonies are serious, however, with life-changing consequences for those convicted. If the courts convict you of unlawful flight, you could face probation in lieu of jail time, or up to two years in jail. The minimum sentence increases to 1 to 3.25 years in jail if you have a prior offense on your record. With two or more priors, you could face up to seven years in prison.
Several defenses are possible for unlawful flight charges in Arizona. The right choice for you will depend on your specific situation. An attorney from AZ Defenders can thoroughly review your case to determine the strongest defense strategy for you. Lack of intent, for example, could be a plausible defense. The flight in question must be willful. If your lawyer can show you had no intent to elude law enforcement (e.g. you were unaware an officer was trying to stop you), this may be a defense against unlawful flight charges. Other potential defenses include intent to stop in a safer place further down the road or breaches of your constitutional rights.
At AZ Defenders, we thoroughly investigate our clients’ cases to search for possible defenses. We can interview you, other people on the scene (such as your passengers) and the police officer involved for more information. We may also be able to subpoena sources of evidence such as a police officer’s dashcam footage to better understand what happened. With the information gained, we can craft the strongest possible defense strategy against an unlawful flight charge in Arizona on your behalf. Contact us today.