‘Fleeing & Eluding’ and ‘Resisting or Obstructing’ the police are crimes that are classified as felony offenses in Michigan. These laws are meant to discourage conduct that endangers the public and the police who are engaged in the lawful performance of their duties. Our firm has seen an increase in fleeing and eluding cases, as well as resisting and obstructing cases, in Macomb and Oakland Counties. There are many reasons that are given by clients charged with these offenses. Some of the most prevalent reasons are as follows:
- The offender is under the influence of alcohol or drugs, or a combination of both, and engages in risky behavior or irrational conduct.
- The offender suffers from psychological disorders (PTSD, bi-polar disorder, ADHD), needs treatment or had an adverse reaction to medications.
- The offender is on probation for another criminal matter and is fearful of being caught.
- The police are in pursuit of the offender because of recent illegal conduct.
- The offender is in possession of illegal property (usually drugs) and is afraid of being caught.
- The offender does not have a valid license (Driving While Suspended), registration or insurance.
Fleeing and Eluding: Pursuant to Michigan Law, the typical fleeing and eluding offense involves a person who fails to pull over and stop his or her motor vehicle after being signaled to do so by a marked police vehicle. At a minimum, the person in this situation can be charged with fleeing and eluding in the 4th degree which is a felony that can carry up to 2 years in prison. Pursuant to MCL 750.479.a, the offense of fleeing and eluding can carry several years in prison if an accident (3rd degree: 5 years), serious injury (2nd degree: 10 years) or death (1st degree: 15 years) occurs.
Assaulting, Resisting, Obstructing or Endangering Police: This offense can be charged when an individual assaults, wounds, resists, obstructs, opposes, or endangers a person who the individual knows or has reason to know is performing his or her duties. The criminal offense ‘Assaulting, Resisting, Obstructing or Endangering’ is a felony punishable by imprisonment for not more than 2 years or a fine of not more than $2,000.00, or both. Pursuant to MCL 750.81d, the penalties for this offense are greatly enhanced if an injury occurs requiring medical attention (5 years), a serious injury occurs (15 years) or death occurs (20 years).
How to deal with the police: Avoiding a felony charge for fleeing & eluding or resisting arrest.
You are rarely in a good position if you attempt to evade the police by resisting or fleeing. This is true even in situations where the police have made an honest mistake regarding an arrest or traffic stop. The police usually have the upper hand and you can assume that a police report will be prepared that leaves you defenseless. It is far better to let your attorney contest these matters in court than to get charged with a felony. The following is a list of practical suggestions that may help if you are faced with a police situation:
- Provide your identification.
- REQUIRED: Provide your Concealed Pistol License (CPL) and disclose whether you have a weapon in your possession.
- REQUIRED: If you are suspected of DUI, you are required to submit to a chemical test for alcohol or drugs if requested by the police. If you refuse, your license may be suspended pursuant to Michigan’s Implied Consent Law and a search warrant may be obtained for a blood sample even if it is against your will.
- Ask for a copy or any search or arrest warrant.
- Ask the officer why you were pulled over.
- You have a constitutional right to remain silent. Do not answer any questions unless you are absolutely positive that your answers are not incriminating.
- It is far better to remain silent than to lie to the police. Lying to the police can lead to other criminal charges and can be used in criminal proceedings for impeachment (discredit your testimony).
- You are not required to consent to any search or your person, home or vehicle.
- You are not required to submit to any polygraph or interrogation.
- You are not required to provide your pass-code to any smart-phone devices or computers.
- If you are arrested, there is no law that gives you the right to a phone but it doesn’t hurt to ask.
- Do not make any aggressive gestures which could be misconstrued.
- Ask permission to move your hands or body or to reach into your glove-box or console.
- Do not resist the police even if you believe that the arrest is improper. The legality of the arrest can be contested by an attorney.
In most situations, it is advisable to cooperate if you are confronted by the police for a traffic stop, an arrest or investigation. By cooperation, I do not mean that you should spill your guts, make any incriminating statements or consent to a search of your person, home or vehicle. However, even if you feel that you are being treated unfairly, you should do everything possible to save yourself from making matters worse by fleeing, resisting or fighting with the police.
Getting your case under control, knowing all of your legal options
Being charged with a crime can be a life changing event. There are always options within the court system that do not include jail or being convicted of a felony. If you suffer from a substance abuse problem or psychological disorder, we may recommend a treatment program. Prosecutors and judges tend to be receptive to those that get professional help and have a plan to avoid making reckless decisions in the future. An attorney will work with you to navigate the various options within the criminal justice system such as:
- HYTA for youthful offenders to get a criminal offense dismissed and sealed.
- Filing proof of counseling (substance abuse, psychological, anger management) with the court to improve plea bargaining and sentence outcomes.
- Getting a felony reduced to a misdemeanor.
- Filing a deviation request for a favorable disposition.
- Setting the case for a trial before a jury.