January 25, 2010 By Wallin & Klarich

In California, a police officer does not have to be behind you with his or her lights on in order to pull you over. A recent California Court of Appeals case (People v. Pakes) held that the police only need to make a reasonable effort to overtake your vehicle in order to technically be in pursuit.

Evading a police officer is a violation of the California Vehicle Code Section 2800.2. Section 2800.2 states that if a driver flees a pursuing police officer, and the pursued vehicle is driven in a willful or wanton disregard for safety, the driver can be punished by serving jail time. In the Pakes case mentioned above, the defendant argued that the “pursuing” officer needed to be behind his vehicle for a violation of Section 2800.2 to occur. Looking at Section 2800.2’s plain meaning, the court found that the word “pursue” includes “the concept of overtaking for capture,” which does not require that a pursuing officer place himself behind a suspect.

In this case, the officer activated his lights and siren, and tried to block Pakes with his patrol car. There was enough room to move around the patrol car and it wasn’t obvious that the patrol car was specifically targeting Pakes. However, the court ruled that although the officer was not behind Pakes’ vehicle at those times, the pursuit had already begun. Thus, Pakes fled a pursuing police officer for the purposes of Section 2800.2.

If you or a loved one has been charged with evading a police officer, you should call the criminal defense attorneys at Wallin & Klarich immediately. Our Los Angeles traffic violation attorneys have the skills and expertise to provide you with the best possible defense. As is easy to see from the language of Section 2800.2, almost any maneuver can be construed as an evasive action. For this reason, it is important to have an experienced criminal defense law firm represent you in court. The attorneys at Wallin & Klarich can be reached by phone at 1-888-280-6839 or through our website at www.wklaw.com. We will be there when you call.

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