Causing Death or Injury While Evading the Police in Nevada
You elude the police in violation of NRS 484B.550 when:
- You willfully fail or refuse to stop your vehicle after a peace officer in a readily identifiable police vehicle flashes red lights at you and turns on his or her siren, or
- After you are signaled by red lights and a siren from a peace officer, you flee or attempt to elude the officer.
You are guilty of eluding causing death or injury when:
- You evade the police, as set forth above, and
- In doing so, you are the proximate cause of the death of or bodily harm to any other person.1
You are the “proximate cause” of someone’s death or injury if:
- Without your wrongful actions the death or injury would not have occurred, and
- The death or injury resulted from a natural foreseeable and continuous sequence following your actions, unbroken by any efficient intervening cause.2
Penalties for Nevada eluding causing death or injury
Normally, eluding the police in Nevada under NRS 484B.550 is a misdemeanor. If, however, while eluding the police you cause the death of, or bodily harm to, any other person, you are guilty of a category B felony.
The punishment for felony eluding causing death or injury can include:
- 2-20 years in Nevada state prison, and/or
- A fine of up to $50,000.
Defenses to Nevada felony evading causing injury or death
Nevada’s law on felony eluding is fairly strict. Nevertheless, there are many reasons that you might not be guilty of it.
While the best defense to Nevada felony eluding charges depends on the facts of your case, four common defenses that will often get charges reduced or dismissed are:
- The officer failed to signal you properly. In order to pull you over, a peace officer must signal you with both a flashing red light and a siren. If either of these was missing, you weren’t required to pull over and were not, therefore, guilty of eluding the police.
- You didn’t willfully ignore the officer’s signal. Even if the officer signaled you properly, to prove you guilty of the Nevada crime of eluding, the prosecutor must show that you purposely ignored it. He or she will usually try to argue that your behavior showed that you were aware of the signal. For instance, if your speed drastically increased and you ran red lights, it might show you knew the officer was trying to pull you over. But if you simply kept driving, this can be harder to do. If the prosecutor has a weak case, a skilled Nevada criminal defense attorney can often use this to get the charges reduced.
- It was not safe to pull over. If you were aware that the police were signaling you, but you reasonably believed it was unsafe to pull over, you may have a defense to the charges. Video and eyewitness evidence can be useful to show that it would’ve been dangerous to stop.
- You weren’t the proximate cause of the death or injury. Even if you eluded the police, your attorney may be able to show that your driving wasn’t the proximate cause of the other person’s injury or death.
Example: Jane is in a hurry to get home to look after her sick husband. When she is almost home, she picks up her speed and drives through her neighborhood about 10 miles per hour over the posted speed limit. A Las Vegas police officer signals her to pull over, but Jane she pretends she doesn’t see it. As Jane is sneaking looks into her rearview mirror, she accidentally hits a baby carriage being pushed by a nanny talking on her cell phone and the baby is seriously injured.
The prosecutor may try to argue that Jane caused the baby’s injuries by ignoring his signal to pull over. However, Jane’s Las Vegas criminal defense lawyer may be able to introduce evidence – such as cell phone records and witness statements –to show that the nanny was the proximate cause of the baby’s injuries, which would have resulted even if Jane had pulled over. In such a case the prosecutor may be willing to reduce the charge to a misdemeanor for Nevada police eluding. As a misdemeanor, evading the police can be punished by a maximum of 6 months in jail and a $1,000 fine.
Call us for help…
If you or someone you know has been charged with felony eluding or another driving crime in Reno or Las Vegas, Nevada, we invite you to contact us for a free consultation.
Our caring Reno and Las Vegas, Nevada criminal defense lawyers know that there are many reasons why you may not have stopped when the police pulled you over. We are here to uncover the evidence most favorable to your case and to present your side of the story to the judge and prosecutor and, if necessary the jury.
To schedule your free consultation call us or submit the form on this page. We will get back to you promptly to help you start planning the best defense to your Nevada driving crimes charges.
Also see our related article on the Nevada crime of escaping prison.
- NRS 484B.550(3).
- See, e.g., Goodrich & Pennington Mortg. Fund, Inc. v. J.R. Woolard, Inc.(2004) 120 Nev. 777, 101 P.3d 792.