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Fleeing and Eluding

The definition of the term “fleeing a law enforcement officer” can be found in Florida Statute Section 316.003(53). The elements of fleeing and eluding under Florida law include:

  1. operating a motor vehicle upon a street or highway in Florida;
  2. having knowledge that he has been ordered to stop the vehicle;
  3. by a duly authorized law enforcement officer;
  4. willfully refusing or failing to stop the vehicle in compliance with such order; or
  5. having stopped in knowing compliance with such order, willfully to flee in an attempt to elude the officer.

Attorney for Fleeing to Elude Charges in Tampa, FL

The criminal charge of fleeing and eluding is a serious criminal offense with serious criminal penalties under Florida law. Unlike other felony offenses, the court is not allowed to withhold adjudication for this charge. This means that anyone who enters a plea of guilty or no contest to this charge will become a convicted felon. For this reason, the goal in many of these cases is getting the charges dropped or reduced to a less serious offense such as a misdemeanor charge of reckless driving. 

An experienced criminal defense attorney can investigate defenses that exist in your case. We fight the charges aggressively with the goal of helping you achieve the best possible result. Contact the Sammis Law Firm today to discuss your arrest for fleeing and attempting to elude a law enforcement officer in the Tampa Bay area, including Hillsborough County, Polk County, Pasco County, or Pinellas County, FL.

During the free and confidential consultation, we can help you understand the charges pending against you, the potential penalties, and the best ways to fight the case aggressively.

Call (813) 250-0500.


Penalties and Punishments for Fleeing and Eluding

Florida law provides for several versions of fleeing to elude a law enforcement officer under F.S. 316.1935. Although Florida law formerly provided for a misdemeanor version of fleeing and eluding, now any charge for fleeing and attempting to elude is a felony offense. The Florida crime of fleeing and attempting to elude a law enforcement officer is a third degree felony punishable by a $5,000.00 fine and Five (5) years in Florida State Prison.

In many of these cases, the law enforcement officer will also seize your vehicle and provide you with notice of the intention to initiate a forfeiture of the vehicle. After you recevie notice of the forfeiture action, you only have 15 days to demand an adversarial preliminary hearing. Wait too long and it becomes much harder to get your vehicle back.

Effective July 1, 2004, pursuant to Florida statute 316.1935, all offenses for Fleeing and Attempting to Elude under FS 316.1935 committed on or after this date require a mandatory revocation of the offender’s driving privilege. DHSMV is authorized by Florida Statutes 322.26(3) and 322.28(1) to take departmental action for these offenses even when not directed to do so by the Court. The department action is required for any offenses reported using violation codes 314 (Fleeing/Elude) and 315 (Fleeing/Elude – Death/SBI).


Aggravated Fleeing and Attempting to Elude

Florida Statute Section 316.1935(3)(a), for fleeing to elude a law enforcement officer while siren and lights activated with high speed or reckless driving can lead to an enhanced charge if the defendant drives at a high rate of speed, or with a wanton disregard for the safety of persons or property.

The penalty for the aggravated version of the offense is enhanced to a second degree felony which is punishable by fifteen (15) years in Florida State Prison.

The “Deputy John C. Mecklenburg Act” took effect on October 1, 2012. The act amended Section 782.04, F.S., to add “aggravated fleeing or eluding with serious bodily injury or death” to the lists of offenses contained in Florida’s statutes for first degree, second degree, and third degree murder.

When a death occurs as a result of aggravated fleeing or eluding with serious bodily injury or death, the defense is charged with either first or second degree murder. Under Section 782.065, F.S., a life sentence is required for any defendant convicted of specified murder offenses if the victim of the offense is a correctional officer or correctional probation officer.

Under Section 316.1935, F.S., fleeing or eluding is classified as a third degree felony when:

  • the driver or operator of any vehicle;
  • with knowledge that he or she has been ordered to stop the vehicle;
  • by a duly authorized law enforcement officer;
  • willfully refuses or fails to stop the vehicle in compliance with such order; or
  • having stopped in knowing compliance with such order, willfully flees in an attempt to elude the officer.

Penalties for Florida’s Aggravated Fleeing to Elude

In certain circumstances, Florida law provides for enhanced penalties that can be imposed for fleeing or eluding. For example, under Section 316.1935(3)(a), F.S., the crime of fleeing or eluding can be charged as a second degree felony. The elements of the second degree felony version of fleeing to elude require proof beyond all reasonable doubt that during the course of the fleeing or eluding:

  • the person drives at high speed, or in any manner which demonstrates a wanton disregard for the safety of persons or property;
  • while fleeing to elude a law enforcement officer;
  • who is in an authorized law enforcement patrol vehicle;
  • with agency insignia and other jurisdictional markings prominently displayed on the vehicle;
  • with siren and lights activated.

Under Section 316.1935(3)(b), F.S., the crime can be charged as a first degree felony, with a three-year minimum mandatory sentence if the person causes serious bodily injury or death to another person.

Subsection (4) of the statute, provided below, establishes the crimes of “aggravated fleeing or eluding” and “aggravated fleeing or eluding with serious bodily injury or death.”

The court is required to sentence any person convicted of committing aggravated fleeing or eluding with serious bodily injury or death to a mandatory minimum sentence of 3 years imprisonment, although the court is authorized to impose a greater sentence as authorized by law as provided in Section 316.1935(4)(b), F.S.


Finding a Lawyer for Flee to Elude Crimes in Florida

Our offices are located in downtown Tampa and in New Port Richey, FL. We represent clients charged with fleeing and attempting to eluding a law enforcement officer throughout the greater Tampa Bay area, including Tampa, Plant City, St. Petersburg, Clearwater, Bartow, Dade City, New Port Richey, Brooksville, Florida.

We can begin your defense today against this serious criminal charge with serious criminal penalties.

Call (813) 250-0500 for a free and confidential consultation today.


This article was last updated on Tuesday, October 16, 2018.

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