Had the 30-year-old driver stopped immediately for the Delray Beach police officer who attempted to pull him over late last month, he would probably have probably been arrested for driving without a valid license.
It’s likely he would have also gotten a citation for driving without a seat belt. He probably also would have been charged with possession of marijuana, as he had a small baggie in the console of his vehicle.
Instead, our Fort Lauderdale criminal defense lawyers have learned, he chose to flee. It did not turn out well for him, or especially other motorists.
Now, he is facing a number of felony charges, including driving without a license causing serious injury or death, fleeing causing serious injury or death, failure to remain at the scene of a crash and reckless driving causing bodily injury. Additionally, he’s charged with resisting an officer and possession of marijuana.
This is all going to add up to a potentially lengthy sentence if convicted. We’re talking about:
—Florida Statute 316.027, Crashes involving death or personal injuries. Failure to remain at the scene of a crash with personal injury is a third-degree felony, punishable by a maximum five years in prison.
—Florida Statute 316.192, Reckless driving. When someone is driving recklessly and such action results in serious bodily injury to another, it’s also a third-degree felony, punishable by five years in prison.
—Florida Statute 322.43, Driving while license suspended, revoked, canceled or disqualified. This is normally a second-misdemeanor, punishable by up to two months in jail for a first-time conviction. It’s bumped up to a third-degree felony if it’s a third or subsequent conviction for the same offense or if while driving on a suspended license, one carelessly or negligently operates a motor vehicle in a manner that results in serious injury or death.
—Florida Statute 316.1935, fleeing or attempting to elude a law enforcement officer; aggravated fleeing or eluding. If you flee from a police officer with wanton disregard for public safety and cause someone to be seriously injured or die, it’s a first-degree felony, punishable by up to 30 years in prison.
So just with the felonies, we’re talking about a situation where someone went from facing maybe a year or two behind bars – tops – to facing more than 45 years in prison.
We can’t purport to know exactly what was going through this defendant’s mind. However, what we do know is that past similar cases almost always involve fear and panic. This man didn’t want to go back to jail, a place he’d been some two dozen times since 2000.
Here’s what reportedly happened:
An officer in Delray Beach reportedly attempted to pull this man over for failure to wear his seat belt. It was shortly after 8 p.m. on a Tuesday. The officer didn’t turn on his overhead lights until the defendant reportedly attempted to suddenly speed away, presumably after noting the officer following him.
The driver reportedly sped away at speeds of up to 50 miles-per-hour in a 25-mile-per-hour zone. He blew through a stop sign. At that intersection, a 39-year-old woman was driving her 11-year-old son home from a haircut. The vehicles collided. The fleeing driver ultimately struck a utility pole, which broke in half and knocked out power to the surrounding neighborhood.
The 11-year-old suffered minor injuries, as did the fleeing driver. The mother, however, suffered critical, life-threatening injuries. She is expected now to recover, but she may continue to be in the hospital for some time in intensive care.
The fleeing driver jumped out of his vehicle and ran. An officer chased him on foot and soon caught him. He was booked into Palm Beach County Jail, with a bond set at $65,000.
The bottom line is that fleeing almost always makes the situation worse. This man might have been arrested anyway, but he could have spent the money he’s now shelling out on bond for an experienced attorney and been much better off. The fight for his freedom is now much further uphill.
If you’ve been arrested, call Fort Lauderdale Criminal Defense Attorney Richard Ansara at (954) 761-4011. The Ansara Law Firm serves Broward, Dade and Palm Beach counties.
Mom seriously injured as man fleeing police plows into her car, July 31, 2013, By Brent Clarkson, Sun Sentinel
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July 4th DUI in Fort Lauderdale A Costly Ride, July 4, 2013, Fort Lauderdale Criminal Defense Lawyer Blog