New Jersey Eluding Defense Lawyers
Our New Jersey Eluding Defense Lawyers Can Give You The Help You Need
In New Jersey, an eluding charge is a serious criminal offense. According to the eluding statute, N.J.S.A. 2C:29-2, a person is guilty of eluding if, during the operation of a motor vehicle, they knowingly attempt to flee or elude a law enforcement officer after having received a signal from said officer to bring the vehicle to a stop. This is a third-degree crime. However, the charge can be raised a second-degree offense if the attempt to flee or elude creates a risk of death or serious injury to other people. A criminal conviction for eluding can include incarceration and a driver’s license suspension of six months to two years.
If you have a criminal complaint charging you with eluding, our law firm can offer you an aggressive defense team that has the experience you need.
Basics of New Jersey Eluding Charges
The offense of eluding is found in subsection (b) of N.J.S.A. 2C:29-2 (“Resisting arrest; eluding officer). The statute states that:
- Any person, while operating a motor vehicle on any street or highway in this State or any vessel…who knowingly flees or attempts to elude any police or law enforcement officer after having received any signal from such officer to bring the vehicle or vessel to a full stop commits a crime of the third degree; except that, a person is guilty of a crime of the second degree if the flight or attempt to elude creates a risk of death or injury to any person.
Escalation of an eluding offense to a second degree crime pursuant to 2C:29-2b is significant because it results in a first-time offender losing the opportunity for Pretrial Intervention and the presumption of non-incarceration (i.e. not going to jail or prison).
Elements of Proof for Eluding Charges in New Jersey
There are four core elements that have to be proven by the prosecution in order to convict someone for third-degree eluding. The state needs to demonstrate, beyond a reasonable doubt, that the accused:
- Was operating a motor vehicle;
- Was driving on a street or highway;
- Received a signal to stop by someone he knew or reasonably should have known was a police officer; Encountered an person who was a police officer; and
- Refused to stop in order to elude a stop.
If each of these facts can be established, the state has proven a third-degree crime for eluding.
To prove a second-degree eluding offense, the prosecutor needs to establish an added element, namely, that “the motorist created a risk of death or injury during the flight”. You also need to know that a presumption that such a risk was created is triggered under 2C:29-2 if the accused violated any motor vehicle laws while attempting to elude. Driving above the speed limit (i.e. speeding), for example, would create a presumption that there was a risk of death or injury to support a defendant being charged with second degree eluding.
Inference of Operation by Owner in New Jersey Eluding Charges
A great many eluding cases involve a motor vehicle that avoided apprehension by the police. To create an added disincentive for this conduct, as well as to address the proof issues in these types of eluding cases, the legislature created a presumption that the registered owner was the operator of the vehicle whenever this occurs; in order words, if someone is operating a vehicle and successfully eludes the police, it is presumed that the registered owner was the driver of the vehicle at the time of the incident. N.J.S.A. 2C:29-2b (“it shall be a rebuttable presumption that the owner of a vehicle or vessel was the operator of the vehicle or vessel at the time of the offense”).
Penalties & Sentencing in New Jersey Eluding Cases
The penalties that apply at the time of sentencing depend upon the degree of eluding involved. A conviction for third degree eluding can get you a fine of up to $15,000 and 3-5 years in prison.
A person is subject to a $150,000 fine and 5-10 years in prison for second degree eluding. The No Early Release Act also applies in for this charge, creating a requirement that a defendant serves at least 85% of his/her prison term before they may be considered for parole.
A driver’s suspension must also be imposed at the time of sentencing regardless of what degree the eluding charge is prosecuted at. A motorist’s driving privileges must be suspended for a minimum of 6 months and as long as 24 months by the court.
Contact Our NJ Eluding Defense Attorneys For The Help You Need
Evidently, an attempt to elude the police has the potential to have dire consequences. This is particularly the case if you are charged and/or indicted for a second degree offense. Enlisting the services of an accomplished attorney to defend allegations that you eluded is therefore pivotal to maintaining your liberty and future.
The attorneys at Spodek Law Group have decades of experience and, more importantly, success in defending 2C:29-2b charges in the New Jersey court system. Eluding police is a rather serious charge and should be dealt with by a highly skilled criminal defense lawyer and this is precisely what our firm can give you. Give us a call right away for immediate assistance.
Frequently Asked Questions In New Jersey Eluding Cases
Is Eluding a Felony Offense?
Make no mistake about it. Eluding is far from the classic traffic offense. It is an indictable felony crime. If you are convicted, you always face the possibility of incarceration.
Can I Access Probation or Pretrial Intervention If I Have Been Charged With Eluding?
You absolutely have the possibility of obtaining probation and possibly even Pretrial Intervention (PTI). Achieving such an outcome certainly has plenty to do with the talents of your lawyer, especially if you are looking for probation or PTI on a second degree case.
What Constitutes a Motor Vehicle Under the New Jersey Eluding Statute 2C:29-2b?
According to N.J.S.A. 39:1-1, the term “motor vehicle” is defined as all vehicles propelled by anything other than muscular power. Machines such as cars, trucks, and motorcycles obviously fall within this definition, but so would quads, golf carts, and snowmobiles.
Exactly When Does Someone Flee or Elude in Violation of this New Jersey Law?
Eluding can only take place if a motorist knowingly flees the police after receiving a signal to stop. This happens, in accordance with State v. Mendez, 345 N.J.Super. 498, 507 (App.Div. 2001) and other New Jersey reported cases, when the facts and circumstances presented to a motorist indicate that there is a high probability that a police officer is attempting to make a motor vehicle stop. This is why there is a requirement that there be a signal to stop by a law enforcement officer in order to convict someone for eluding; a motorist cannot knowingly avoid a stop if there hasn’t even been some signal placing him/her on notice that a stop is being attempted.
When Does Eluding Create Risk of Injury or Death To Another Person?
The New Jersey Supreme Court held in State v. Wallace, 158 N.J. 552, 560, (1999) that the risk contemplated in the second degree eluding law includes not only police officers and occupants of the defendant’s vehicle, but also anyone potentially exposed to injury or death along the chase route. The risk exists, in accordance with State v. Bunch, 180 N.J. 534 (2004) and a long line of cases thereafter, if the conduct created the possibility of injury to at least one individual.
Will I Secure Pretrial Release If I Have Been Charged With Eluding?
New Jersey state no longer utilizes cash bail as the primary tool to ensure that someone will appear in court. An individual needs to secure release at either a first appearance or as the result of the successful defense to a motion to detain. Our attorneys are almost always successful in getting pretrial release at either of these proceedings.
What Happens If There Is An Accident During the Course of Eluding in New Jersey?
It is a second-degree crime of aggravated assault to cause bodily injury to another person “while fleeing or attempting to elude”. This means is that you will face two charges, one for aggravated assault and another for eluding. You could be looking at 5-10 years in prison if you cause even momentary pain to another as the result of an accident while eluding.