Whether in the Phoenix area, or anywhere in Arizona, per A.R.S. § 28-622.01, “Unlawful Flight from Pursuing Law Enforcement Vehicle” (Felony Flight) occurs when a person willfully attempts to flee or elude a pursuing law enforcement vehicle that is being driven with at least one of its lights on, or while the siren is activated.
If the person is fleeing from police (even if just for a minor traffic ticket), and they subsequently cause an accident which involves the death of another person, it is possible to be charged with Capital First-Degree Murder and potentially face the death penalty. However, this scenario does not normally occur, and persons are usually charged with a class five (5) felony if their case does not involve a subsequent accident that causes a death.
Need an Arizona Felony Attorney? Contact the Law Offices of David Michael Cantor if you have been charged with Unlawful Flight from Police. Call 24/7 602-302-0808 or click here to fill out our contact form for a Free Consultation.
Possible Punishment for Unlawful Flight from Police
For a first offense class five (5) felony, punishment can be probation with zero (0) days in jail up to one (1) year in jail, or prison of six (6) months to two and one half (2.5) years. If the person has one (1) allegeable historical prior conviction, then the “prison only” range is one (1) year to three and three quarters (3.75) years. If the person has two (2) allegeable historical prior convictions then the “prison only” range is three (3) years to seven and one half (7.5) years of incarceration.
Possible Defenses for Unlawful Flight from Police
The most common defense to an Unlawful Flight from Police charge is the defendant’s lack of knowledge of the officer’s presence behind them. In order to be convicted of this crime, the defendant must have “willfully” fled from the police. If the defendant was unaware of the officers attempting to pull him over, he cannot have “willfully” fled from them. A typical situation where this occurs is when the defendant has their stereo on loud preventing him from hearing the sirens, and they are looking straight ahead while driving at night so they do not see the flashing red and blue lights. Another commonly used defense is a mistake of fact defense. This is applicable where the defendant believed the officer was chasing somebody else, and not the defendant (but they were mistaken), so they did not pull over. Alternatively, the defendant may have realized that officers had activated their lights behind them, but was waiting to pull over in a safe, well-lit area before stopping their car. This occurs most often on the freeway where people wish to make an exit off the busy portion of the roadway before stopping their cars. When this occurs, sometimes police officers become upset and add the charge of Unlawful Flight from Police to what would have otherwise been a normal misdemeanor traffic citation. It is critical to interview all available witnesses (if there were any) as to the circumstances surrounding the incident in order to show this was not a true “flight”. As additional defense evidence, data can be downloaded from the statistical and diagnostic module (i.e., the “Black Box”) from newer model vehicles and can be used to show that there was no high rate of speed, no rapid acceleration, and no other indication of true “intent to flee.”
In order to fight this Unlawful Flight from Police charge, and any other criminal charges that you might face, as your attorneys we would assert a number of various other defenses designed to protect your constitutional rights. One of those we frequently assert is a “Miranda rights violation”. In Arizona, the standard of whether any inculpatory statement (i.e., a statement which tends to admit guilt) is admissible into evidence is based upon a “voluntariness” standard. If we can demonstrate that the police coerced you (i.e., intimidated or tricked you) into making a confession or inculpatory statement, or that they did not properly read you your Miranda Rights, then we can suppress those statements and any evidence gathered as a direct result of those statements. In addition, the “denial of right to Counsel” is another common defense which is often raised. This occurs when a suspect is in custody and requests to speak to their attorney, but is denied and questioning continues. Other defenses may include challenging the validity of any search warrant, or whether there were any “forensic flaws” during the investigation of your case. Depending on what else you have been charged with, the forensic flaws could include exposing flawed procedures regarding blood, breath, and urine testing; fingerprints analysis; DNA testing; ballistics; gunshot residue testing; computer analysis/cloning hard drive procedures; forensic financial accounting reviews; etc. Lastly, one of the most common defense tactics is exposing sloppy or misleading police reports which include everything from misstatements, false statements, flawed photo line-ups and inaccurate crime scene reconstruction. It is important to hire a skilled Unlawful Flight from Police lawyer who has knowledge of all possible defenses to assert in your case.
It is important to hire an AV® rated law firm (the highest possible rating by Martindale Hubbell®). Also David Michael Cantor is an Arizona Felony Attorney, and a Certified Criminal Law Specialist, per the Arizona Board of Legal Specialization. In addition, the Firm and all of its lawyers are listed in the Bar Register of Preeminent Lawyers®. At the Law Offices of David Michael Cantor, P.C., the majority of our Attorneys are ex-Prosecutors, and all of our Arizona Felony Attorneys know the system well. For a free initial consultation, call us at 1-888-822-6867, or click here to contact us now.
Contact The Law Offices of David Michael Cantor and speak to an Arizona Felony Attorney. We will assist you with your Unlawful Flight from Police case.