Felony Reckless Evading – California Vehicle Code § 2800.2

Fleeing the police is one crime, and felony reckless evading under VC 2800.2 is entirely another — with consequences that are, potentially, much more serious.

Getting charged with this crime can feel scary. We get that. But you aren’t alone. Those charged with felony reckless evading VC 2800.2 can fight back with the help of a criminal defense lawyer at Elite Criminal Defense.

Our team is here to be a light for you in this dark time. We can help you understand the charge you’re facing and evaluate your options to fight back.


Felony Reckless Evading Law in California – Vehicle Code 2800.2 VC

Under California’s Vehicle Code 2800.2 VC, felony reckless evading is defined as willfully fleeing from a police officer who is pursuing you in a motor vehicle, while also driving recklessly and posing a “substantial risk of harm” to other people.

Reckless driving in this context means that you’re disregarding the safety of others or property.

Because this crime endangers other drivers, pedestrians, and law enforcement, the prosecution often pursues these charges fiercely. Fighting back with the support of a criminal defense attorney in San Diego may be vital to your future.

Factors a Prosecutor Must Prove for a VC 2800.2 Conviction

Sadly, some police officers attempt to charge drivers with felony reckless evading when they haven’t actually committed that specific crime. Like many other criminal charges, this charge requires extremely specific elements to be met in order for you to be convicted:

  • You intentionally fled from someone you knew to be a police officer.
  • The officer’s vehicle had at least one lit red lamp visible from the front, and you saw or should have seen it.
  • The officer was sounding a siren as necessary.
  • The officer’s vehicle was distinctly marked.
  • The officer was wearing a distinctive uniform.

On top of that, you need to have shown willful or wanton disregard for the safety of others. That doesn’t mean that someone got hurt, necessarily, but it does mean you violated several traffic laws, such as speeding, running red lights, and similar, during the course of the chase.

Penalties for a Felony Reckless Evading

Felony reckless evading is technically a “wobbler,” meaning it can be penalized as a misdemeanor or felony. The severity of your charges generally depends on the severity of your case and whether you already have a criminal record. For example, if you already have a felony on your record, the prosecution may pursue felony charges.

If you are convicted, you may face the following penalties.

Penalties for a Misdemeanor Under VC 2800.2

If you are charged with a misdemeanor for violating California Vehicle Code 2800.2, you may face the following penalties if convicted:

  • Six months to one year in county jail
  • Fines up to $1,000
  • Probation
  • Driver’s license suspension
  • Vehicle impoundment

While a misdemeanor may not have penalties as severe as a felony conviction, these repercussions can still disrupt your life, your ability to transport yourself, and your criminal record.

Penalties for a Felony Under VC 2800.2

The penalties get much more serious for a felony conviction for reckless evading. The following are some of the penalties you may face:

  • Sixteen months to three years in state prison 
  • Fines up to $10,000
  • Probation
  • Driver’s license suspension
  • Vehicle impoundment

Those with commercial driver’s licenses may face further penalties if they are convicted of reckless evading in a commercial vehicle.

What Is a Willful or Wanton Disregard for Safety?

One of the key factors of a felony reckless evading case is the willful or wanton disregard for the safety of others. Proving that you were not acting in this way is likely to be vital for your defense, but you need to know exactly how these terms are defined.

Willful or wanton disregard for safety means you were aware that you acted recklessly and intentionally ignored that risk. If you didn’t act in this way, you’re unlikely to face a felony conviction for reckless evading.

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What California Crimes Are Related to Felony Evading?

Facing felony reckless evading charges and worried about other related charges you may also face? Below are a few related charges.

VC 2800.1 Misdemeanor Evading an Officer

Misdemeanor evading an officer is a less severe version of this felony charge because it does not involve dangerously reckless behavior. Suppose you are driving on a suspended license and accidentally fail to stop at a stop sign in sight of a police officer. Rather than stop, you pick up the pace and avoid the office.

In these cases, you may not be charged with a felony offense because you were not acting with willful or wanton disregard for others, according to the officer.

VC 2800.3 Evading Causing Injury or Death

You may have been allegedly fleeing a police officer, and, in the process, were involved in an accident. In that accident, another person was seriously injured or killed.

Your penalties may become much more severe when this happens, including up to 10 years in state prison.

PC 415 Disturbing the Peace

The crime of disturbing the peace may not initially seem related to felony reckless evading. And it isn’t, but it’s often somewhere in the discussion when a defense attorney is negotiating with the prosecutor who charged you with felony reckless evading.

Why? Because it may be possible to negotiate with the prosecution to get your charge reduced to disturbing the peace, which carries much less severe penalties of up to $400 in fines and up to 90 days in jail.

VC 23103 Reckless Driving

Reckless driving is driving with willful or wanton disregard for public and property safety. That includes speeding, swerving recklessly, and endangering the people around you.

If you are found guilty of reckless driving, you may face up to 90 days and county jail and/or up to $1,000 in fines.

How Can I Fight Felony Reckless Evading Charges?

One of the only ways to beat your felony reckless evading charge is to fight it. But how do you do that?

With a bulletproof legal defense.

Each case requires its own defense tailored to the case’s unique details. And your attorney can help you choose the most appropriate and potentially effective defense for your situation, but demonstrating that you had no intent to evade the police in the first place is a common defense to this charge.

Let’s take a closer look.

You Lacked the Intent to Evade

Evasion of the police isn’t a cut and dried offense. Sometimes, the police might say you were attempting to evade them — and endangering others in the process — when you had no idea that you appeared to be doing so.

Examples of Situations Where You May Lack the Intent to Evade

Let’s look at a couple of examples:

  • You’re in heavy traffic when a police officer tries to pull you over. But you thought they were coming after the person behind you, so you kept moving. You didn’t intend to flee, but that’s what the officer thought.
  • You’re driving through a sketchy neighborhood at night when you see blue and red lights behind you. But you aren’t totally sure that the car is actually a police car, so you decide to keep driving until you get to a well-lit, public place in a safer area.

In both of these scenarios, if you’re able to show that you didn’t intend to evade the police, you may have a viable route to fighting your charge.

What Happens If You Were Too Drunk to Realize a Police Officer Was Pulling You Over?

In some cases, you may have lacked intent to evade arrest because you had been drinking and driving. You may have been too drunk to realize a police officer was attempting to pull you over. You may have an opportunity to prove you had no intent to evade arrest because of the alcohol levels in your system.

This defense, called voluntary intoxication, may not prevent all criminal repercussions, but it can strengthen your defense against felony reckless evading because it can show that you lacked intent to evade. Talk to your attorney to evaluate your defense strategy in complex situations like this.

Felony Reckless Evading FAQ

Need answers for your most pressing criminal defense questions? We have answers. Below are just a few of our most frequently asked questions, but a consultation with one of our attorneys can give you more case-specific answers.

Can a conviction for felony reckless evading affect any of my other rights?

If you are convicted of felony reckless evading, you may face penalties to your driver’s license, affecting your ability to work. If you rely on your driver’s license to transport you to work or your job requires a license, it can impact your livelihood.

Can I own/possess/acquire/receive a firearm?

In California, certain felonies can prevent you from being able to possess, acquire, or receive a firearm. If you are not careful to avoid a felony conviction, it can affect your gun rights.

How can a felony conviction impact my criminal record?

If you were convicted of a felony, your criminal record can haunt you for years. Your criminal record is visible to others performing a background check. That background check can impact your ability to get a loan, secure housing, or get a job.

Charged with Felony Reckless Evading? Get Answers from a Criminal Defense Attorney 

If you face felony reckless evading charges under Vehicle Code 2800.2, you do not have to fight your charge alone. An Elite Criminal Defense attorney can guide you through this difficult time, helping you take action to protect your future.If you are accused of felony reckless evading VC 2800.2, contact our team for a consultation. When you are ready to speak with a defense attorney, reach out by calling 619-642-2310 or filling out our online contact form.

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