Potential Defenses to Fleeing or Eluding a Law Enforcement Officer in Mississippi

If you have been charged with fleeing or eluding a law enforcement officer in a motor vehicle, you should know that you face serious consequences. Felony charges are possible, and you could spend years in prison. However, you should also know that there are a number of viable defenses to this crime. Of course, the most optimal defense strategy will depend on your unique circumstances – but these potential defenses highlight the possibilities: 

No Reasonable Suspicion

The most obvious defense in this scenario for many defendants is the lack of reasonable suspicion. If you were not committing a crime and the police had no reason to believe that you were doing anything illegal, it may be unconstitutional for police officers to attempt to pull you over. As such, you may be legally justified in eluding or failing to stop based on the Fourth Amendment of the Constitution of the United States against unreasonable searches and seizures. MS Code § 97-9-72 (2020) specifically states that someone is only guilty of fleeing if the officer is “acting in the lawful performance of duty” and they have a “reasonable suspicion to believe that the driver in question has committed a crime.”

The Officer Did Not Pull You Over Correctly

Mississippi law also details the correct manner in which police must pull you over. If they fail to follow these protocols, you may be justified in continuing to drive. The law states that police must give a “visible or audible” signal to those they wish to pull over. This might be a  hand signal, a vocal signal, an emergency light, or a siren. If the police officer fails to use any of these approved methods, you may be justified in continuing to drive. You could argue that you had no idea that the officer was trying to pull you over since they failed to activate their lights or siren. 

You Were Trying to Find a Safe Spot to Pull Over

MS Code § 97-9-72 (2020) also makes it clear that searching for a safe place to pull over is a valid defense against fleeing from the police. Although it might have seemed as though you were trying to flee from the police, you may have been simply searching the roadway and looking for a place to pull over that put average motorists (and the police officers) out of harm’s way. It should be noted that numerous police officers are struck and killed each year by passing motorists after exiting their vehicles in traffic stops. By searching for a safe spot to pull over, you are actually acting in the police officer’s best interests. 

You Did Not Willfully Disobey

Intent is another important aspect of the fleeing laws in Mississippi. The law makes it clear that you can only be found guilty of this offense if the prosecution shows that you “willfully” disobeyed” the command to pull over. You might not have intended to flee, and instead, you might have continued to drive for other reasons. For example, you might have been playing your music slightly above the normal listening level – and you might not have heard the sirens in the distance. Perhaps you were engaged in an important phone conversation – and you failed to notice the sirens in the rear-view mirror. 

The Officer Was Not in Uniform/Vehicle Was Not Marked

Finally, it is a valid defense in Mississippi to point out that the police officers were not in uniform – or that they were not driving a vehicle clearly marked as a police unit. If you were being chased by undercover officers in a civilian vehicle, there is really no way of knowing whether you are being pursued by legitimate law enforcement officials – or violent criminals intending to rob and carjack you. 

Find a Defense Attorney in Mississippi

If you have been searching for an experienced defense attorney in Mississippi, look no further than Vic Carmody Jr, P.A. Over the years, we have helped numerous defendants across the Magnolia State – including those who have been accused of fleeing from police in motor vehicles. We know that the penalties for this offense may seem daunting, but it is possible to defend yourself effectively and with dignity. The most appropriate defense strategy depends entirely on your unique circumstances, so discuss the details of your allegations with an attorney today. 

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