It happens in a flash – you’re spotted by police and in a snap decision you decide to cut down a side street rather than deal with the infraction that caught the cop’s attention. Or worse, a police car starts chasing you and before you know it, you’re being arrested by law enforcement for not immediately pulling over for a car you didn’t know was a police officer. Regardless of the circumstances, unlawful flight, often referred to as felony flight, is a serious crime under Arizona law. The good news is that this crime is also extremely defensible.
Pursuant to A.R.S. § 28-622.01, you can be charged with felony flight or unlawful flight if you willfully flee or attempt to elude a law enforcement vehicle if the law enforcement vehicle is:
1. A marked police car and:
2. An unmarked police car but:
The penalties for felony flight involve both consequences in and out of the courtroom. In addition to jail or prison time, those convicted of felony flight will face consequences from the court, MVD, employers and others. These consequences are in addition to any other mandatory punishment that may be applicable if the person fleeing police is also charges with crimes such as DUI, criminal traffic violations, vehicular aggravated assault or vehicular murder.
Felony flight is considered a class 5 felony under Arizona law. Class 5 felonies are punishable by:
SIDE NOTE: If your license is revoked for unlawful flight, your driving privileges are NOT automatically reinstated after the one year has passed. You must apply to have your driving privileges reinstated by completing a Revocation Application (also called an Investigation Packet) with MVD and pay a reinstatement fee. You must also complete any other court or MVD requirements, such as paying all fines, traffic survival school, or alcohol/drug counseling.
A winning defense strategy to felony flight is extremely fact specific so speaking with an experienced criminal defense attorney about the particulars of your individual case is necessary before a definitive defense strategy can be outlined. However, some of the more common defense to unlawful flight charges are as follows: