Evading arrest is a common legal term that refers to crimes where the perpetrator has intentionally avoided law officers legally attempting to make an arrest. By evading arrest, a suspect may hope to escape legal proceedings, but can find him or herself saddled with additional charges or more severe sentences as a result. Depending on local, state, or federal laws of the region, evasion may be charged as a minor or major crime.
There are several different methods of evading arrest that can all be considered criminal actions. One way is if the perpetrator runs away from an officer who is trying to arrest or detain him or her. Some states and regions make the criminal charge more serious if the suspect uses a vehicle in an attempt to escape an officer of the law. Another form of evasion involves a more extensive form of running away; suspects can lay false trails, convince others to lie for them, or hide in order to escape an arrest.
Depending on the local law, evading arrest may be charged as a separate crime or be used as a factor in determining punishment. In the state of Alabama, for instance, cases that may possibly qualify for the death penalty sometimes consider whether evasion was part of the arrest. In other states, being found guilty of evasion may result in a fine, jail sentence, or other punishment. It is important to note that anyone who helps a suspect evade arrest may also be charged with criminal offenses.
It is important to note that many evasion laws stipulate that the crime is only valid if the arrest or detainment is lawful. Often, lawyers can argue for the dismissal of an evasion charge if there is some question over whether the law officers were behaving legally. This stipulation works to protect defendants from situations in which the law officer was acting outside his or her capacity, or using the cloak of the job to engage in illegal harassment, discrimination, or other inappropriate behavior.
Evading lawful arrest is a serious crime that can have devastating consequences. When evading arrest results in a car chase or involves others, it puts the lives of innocent people in considerable risk. Evading arrest can lead to hostage situations, traffic accidents, and avoidable deaths, and may end in severe or even fatal confrontations. Moreover, according to legal scholars, evasion inhibits the natural process of the legal and justice system by refusing to acknowledge the granted authority of the law.