Charlie Christopher Bates, the man accused of carrying out several violent crimes north of USF, was arrested on video after a long and dramatic pursuit in a stolen vehicle along U.S. 301 through Hillsborough County. Bates led authorities southbound onto U.S. 301 in an orange car. He was initially chased by unmarked officers. As authorities began a more aggressive pursuit, Bates allegedly fired gunshots backwards from the vehicle. He lost control just north of the I-4 crossing, crashing in front of a Waffle House, and then exchanged more gunfire with officers.
Fleeing and eluding law enforcement is a serious crime under Fla. Stat. 316.193. This statute forbids individuals from refusing to stop when they know a law enforcement officer commanded them to stop. Fleeing and Eluding police is a third degree felony offense, exposing the accused to a five year prison sentence that can have dire consequences on the accused. In addition, if convicted, the accused may not only face prison time, but the accused’s driver’s license will be suspended by the Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles.
First-time offenders may be eligible for Pretrial Intervention, but only at the discretion of the State Attorney. Pre-trial intervention is a diversionary program administered by the State of Florida through the Department of Corrections (DOC). Eligible individuals who enter into a PTI agreement will be required to participate in a supervised program similar to probation. Many involved in the PTI program for this particular charge are required to complete certain conditions, such as traffic school and community service. Upon the successful completion of these conditions, one’s case will be dismissed, and one will be eligible to have one’s record expunged.
If one evades an officer’s patrol car at a high rate of speed, one may be charged with aggravated fleeing and eluding, which is a second-degree felony, punishable by up to fifteen years in prison.
If one is charged with aggravated fleeing and eluding police, the state must prove that one:
– Operated a motor vehicle for the purpose of fleeing and eluding law enforcement
– while siren and lights were activated on a police vehicle
– at a high rate of speed
– with complete disregard for the safety of other people or property.
If one is convicted of aggravated fleeing and eluding, one is exposed to an elevated second degree felony, exposing one to a maximum prison sentence of 15 years and a $5000 fine. For many who are accused of fleeing and evading police, another problem that arises is that the government has the authority to seize the vehicle as contraband in a fleeing and evading police case, which for many is their only means of transportation or may be co-owned by another party.
There are many situations where the accused has a legitimate reason for their actions, that either mitigates or negates guilt entirely. Many do not know that a police officer in an unmarked vehicle is telling them to stop, even though the lights are flashing on the interior of the dash, which is difficult to see with police-tinted windows. That individual might reasonably believe that it is not a real police officer telling them to pull over.
Other times, emergency is the legitimate reason for the accused to refuse to comply with a police officer’s orders. Many times, expectant-mothers or hurt individuals are necessarily rushed to the hospital for emergency medical treatment; if such is the case, one may have a viable excuse for not obeying the police order.
Unfortunately, if one is convicted and sentenced to a minimum mandatory prison sentence for aggravated fleeing or attempting to elude a law enforcement officer, one will not be eligible for any gain time (credited time for time already served during proceedings), discretionary early release, prior to serving at least the three-year minimum -mandatory sentence.
Police Officers and Prosecutors like these charges because the statute prevents the judge from withholding adjudication. This means a high likelihood that the accused will lose important civil rights upon the entering of the sentence, including the right to vote and hold certain occupational licenses, which require no felony record. One may be able to have these rights restored, but may face an uphill battle that one should not have to fight.
The key to obtaining a favorable outcome when facing charges of fleeing and evading police is studying the circumstances of the situation and offense. Through proper investigation, one’s experienced police evasion crimes defense attorney can determine if the prosecution has satisfactory evidence to establish guilt, and if so, will be able to help the accused fashion a sentence which satisfies the requirement for punishment, but is beneficial to the accused’s rehabilitation.
The Forbess Law Firm has been aiding clients who face criminal charges in Jacksonville for years and are here to provide aggressive criminal defense to anyone accused of a crime. If you or a loved one require a Jacksonville criminal defense lawyer, contact our firm today. We are available through our website or by calling us at 904-634-0900.
Additional Source: Home invasion suspect killed after chase, shootout, Fox 13 Tampa