Mount Olive NJ Eluding a Police Officer Lawyer
Criminal Defense Attorneys in Morris County, New Jersey
Most people associate eluding the police with high-speed chases that appear on the evening news. However, eluding charges can often arise from innocent mistakes and simple lapses in judgement that are misinterpreted. A person can have many reasons for “eluding” a police officer. Perhaps you did not realize that the officer had turned on his sirens. Or perhaps you were scared and confused and simply made a mistake. People often flee the police simply because they are scared and confused. Although these situations are quite common, the penalties can be severe, including potential prison time of up to 10 years in NJ State Prison, in addition to other penalties outlined below.
The Tormey Law Firm represents clients charged with eluding a police officer and resisting arrest throughout New Jersey, including Dover, Parsippany, Roxbury, Denville, and Morristown. Our managing partner, Travis J. Tormey, has been handling criminal cases for years and he has an excellent reputation with local prosecutors and judges. Additionally, one of our other partners, Alissa D. Hascup, is a former Morris County Assistant Prosecutor. During her time with the Morris County Prosecutor’s Office, she prosecuted cases ranging from Homicide and Aggravated Assault to Robbery and Child Abuse.
If you or a loved one has been charged with eluding law enforcement in New Jersey, contact the Tormey Law Firm today for a free consultation. You can call us at 866-949-6948, or you can use the online contact form to schedule an appointment.
Eluding a Police Officer Charges in New Jersey
Eluding a police officer is a criminal charge in New Jersey. It is governed by N.J.S.A. 2C:29-2, which provides, in pertinent part:
b. Any person, while operating a motor vehicle on any street or highway in this State or any vessel, as defined pursuant to section 2 of P.L.1995, c . 401 (C.12:7-71), on the waters of this State, who knowingly flees or attempts to elude any police or law enforcement officer after having received any signal from such officer to bring the vehicle or vessel to a full stop commits a crime of the third degree; except that, a person is guilty of a crime of the second degree if the flight or attempt to elude creates a risk of death or injury to any person. For purposes of this subsection, there shall be a permissive inference that the flight or attempt to elude creates a risk of death or injury to any person if the person’s conduct involves a violation of chapter 4 of Title 39 or chapter 7 of Title 12 of the Revised Statutes. In addition to the penalty prescribed under this subsection or any other section of law, the court shall order the suspension of that person’s driver’s license, or privilege to operate a vessel, whichever is appropriate, for a period of not less than six months or more than two years.
Elements of an Eluding Charge in New Jersey
Eluding is simply the act of fleeing by motor vehicle from a person who the perpetrator knows to be a law enforcement officer. The law stipulated that you cannot knowingly attempt to flee or elude a law enforcement officer after having received a signal from the officer to stop your vehicle. Basically, when an officer signals for you to stop your vehicle, you must do so.
The law presumes that the registered owner of the vehicle was in fact operating the vehicle at the time of the eluding offense. This can create thorny legal problems when the “operation” element is in dispute because the defendant must prove that he or she was not operating the vehicle.
Additionally, NJ courts have interpreted the statute to define “eluding” as occurring when a person flees by motor vehicle “from a person who the perpetrator knows to be a law enforcement officer.” State v. Mendez, 345 N.J. Super. 498, 785 A.2d 945 (N.J. Super. Ct. App. Div. 2001) aff’d, 175 N.J. 201, 814 A.2d 1043 (2002). Importantly, the “knowingly” requirement is the hardest element for the State to prove. A person acts knowingly with respect to the attendant circumstances of their conduct if they are aware that such circumstances exist. Knowledge is a condition of the mind which cannot be seen and can only be determined by inferences from conduct, words, or acts. As a result, if there is a reasonable doubt as to the alleged perpetrator’s criminal intent, the defendant cannot be found guilty.
Eluding Consequences in New Jersey
Eluding a police officer is a serious criminal offense in New Jersey. Eluding is typically classified as a third degree crime, which subjects the defendant to a prison range of three (3) to five (5) years.
If the attempt to elude creates a risk of death or injury to another person, the crime is elevated to a second degree offense. The “risk of death or injury” language in the statute is interpreted very broadly by NJ courts. As a result, practically every attempt to elude may be classified as a second degree crime. This is a critical distinction because a second degree offense carries a presumption of incarceration. If you are convicted of second degree eluding in New Jersey, you can be sentenced to as many as 10 years in NJ State Prison, with a minimum period of parole ineligibility of five (5) years.