If a cop car ever signals for you to stop driving and pull over, it's a crime to ignore it. Depending on the circumstances, penalties can include years in prison and exorbitant fines, not to mention a marred criminal record that will look bad to future employers.
On this page, our Las Vegas criminal defense lawyers explain the Nevada crime of eluding or fleeing a traffic stop as well as the punishment it carries and its possible defenses. If you've been arrested for this or any other crime in or around Clark County, call us at 702-DEFENSE (702-333-3673) for a free consultation today.
The legal definition of evading a traffic stop in Las Vegas, Nevada, is when a driver "willfully fails or refuses to bring the vehicle to a stop, or who otherwise flees or attempts to elude a peace officer in a readily identifiable vehicle of any police department or regulatory agency, when given a signal to bring the vehicle to a stop by a flashing red lamp and siren."
In other words, it's illegal to deliberately keep driving once the police have signaled for you to stop by flashing a red light and sounding a siren. So if a driver honestly isn't aware of the police signal or if the police fail to use a flashing red light and siren as the signal, then the driver isn't guilty of evading in Las Vegas.
Note that "reckless driving" is a "lesser included offense" of felony eluding a police officer, so an accused cannot be charged with both crimes in the same matter. (Kelley v. State, 132 Nev. Adv. Op. 32 2016)
If you're charged with failing or refusing to stop your car on a signal of a peace officer in Nevada, there is still hope that you may not be convicted for it. The following are three common defenses your attorney may use to try to persuade the prosecutor to dismiss the charges or else reduce them to something lesser:
- Wrong signal. The official signal that police must use to order a driver to pull over in Las Vegas is a flashing red light and a siren. Therefore if the police used the wrong signal or if their signal was broken, then a driver can't be found guilty for failing to obey a traffic stop.
- Lack of intent. Evading is an intent crime in Nevada, which means that you can't be convicted for it unless you willfully and deliberately ignored the police's signal to stop your car. If the prosecution can't prove that you acted with such intent, the evading charges should be dropped.
- Unsafe to pull over. If you're aware that the police are signaling for you to stop but you know it'd be unsafe to do so, the prosecutors should be more willing to dismiss the charges. Evidence such as video recordings and eyewitnesses might be brought in to show that it would've been dangerous to stop and that you behaved lawfully under the circumstances.
The punishments a Clark County judge will impose for a conviction of evading a police car's signal to stop depends on the following factors:
- whether the driver acted in a dangerous way,
- whether any property was damaged or someone was mildly injured,
- whether anyone sustained serious bodily harm or was killed, and
- whether the person was driving under the influence
As long as no one and nothing was damaged and the driver was not drunk or high, the Las Vegas crime of eluding a traffic stop is only a misdemeanor in Nevada carrying:
- up to 6 months in jail and/or
- up to $1,000 in fines
Evading with DUI
- 1 to 4 years in prison, and
- maybe a fine of up to $5,000
Evading while driving dangerously or causing damage
An evading driver who also causes damage to property or another person (or who is driving in a way likely to endanger people or property) may be charged with a category B felony in Nevada. The sentence includes:
- 1 to 6 years in prison and/or
- up to $5,000 in fines
Evading causing death or serious injury
If a driver in the course of evading the police causes a fatality or substantial bodily harm in Nevada to someone else, then the category B felony sentence will include:
- 2 to 20 years in prison and/or
- up to $50,000 in fines
We're here to help you . . . .
No matter what charge you're facing in Nevada, our Las Vegas criminal defense lawyers are eager to try to get your case dismissed or at least reduced to a lesser crime. Please phone us today at 702-DEFENSE (702-333-3673) to discuss your case for free.
Also see our article on the Nevada crime of felony eluding police causing death or injury.
For information about California evading laws, go to our article on California evading laws.