Criminal Law

What Is "Evading" the Police?

By Jessica Gillespie, Legal Researcher and Editor
A driver evades police by disobeying a law enforcement officer’s command to stop.

While the definition of evading (sometimes called “eluding”) a police officer varies by state, the crime essentially involves a driver intentionally disobeying a law enforcement officer’s order to stop. For example, a driver can “evade” the police by speeding away or even driving a few miles before coming to a stop.

Some states have statutes specifically barring drivers from evading a police officer by vehicle, while others cover the crime under broader “resisting” or “obstructing” statutes.

In most states, an officer doesn’t have to issue an oral command for the driver to stop in order for the motorist to be guilty of evading. An officer can give a valid order to stop by using hand signals, displaying a badge, or turning on the police car’s flashing lights or sirens.

A driver normally must know that an officer has ordered a stop in order for driving away to be an evading offense. Typically, the officer must also be on duty and recognizable as law enforcement.

Eluding or evading laws—and their potential punishments—differ by location. In some states, the crime can be charged as either a felony or misdemeanor, while in others the crime is always a felony. To learn more about the laws and penalties in your area, consult an experienced criminal defense attorney.

Go to the main crime definitions FAQ page.

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