A Fond du Lac man has been arrested and charged with suspicion of “eluding an officer”, “first degree recklessly endangering safety,” and multiple drug and traffic citations after leading police on a high speed chase during a traffic stop.
Failing to stop for an officer is one thing – maybe you did not see the officer or know he or she was executing a traffic stop – but fleeing or eluding is quite another in terms of consequences. Eluding a law enforcement officer is a Class I felony that carries a maximum prison sentence of 3.5 years and a fine up to $10,000.
Additionally, that split second decision to run can often result in additional charges of first degree recklessly endangering safety, a class F felony, punishable by up to a $25,000 fine and 12.5 years in prison if convicted (Wis. Stat. Sec. 941.30). First degree recklessly endangering safety occurs in circumstances where an individual recklessly does something, in this case…eluding police at high rates of speed, that endangers someone else and shows an utter disregard for human life knowing the risk existed.
A lesser charge of second degree recklessly endangering safety, a Class G felony, is distinguished from 1st degree charges in that while the perpetrator put someone’s safety at risk, he or she did not disregard human life. Even so, a 2nd degree recklessly endangering safety felony conviction still packs a punch, with fines up to $25,000 and up to decade in jail.
Being stopped by police while driving your car is a stressful experience that can go bad quickly, so it is important to know what to do and not to do. If you are stopped, police must have probable cause to believe you have committed a traffic violation or are otherwise suspected of committing a crime – a strong, unbiased, factual reason that you have done something illegal. If police stop you:
Do stop immediately and turn off your car engine, placing your hands on the wheel.
Do provide license, registration, and proof of insurance if asked
Do not consent to a search of your car or personal belongings, or reach for any items in your car without instructions from police. Keep in mind that if police spot anything illegal in your car, this may create probable cause to search your vehicle.
Do ask if you are free to leave. If you are arrested, do remain silent and request an attorney immediately
Don’t run, resist or fight back, consent to search, or answer any questions without a lawyer present. Even if you fear that illegal activity will be discovered, eluding police or resisting arrest only adds to the charges you will face.
And finally, if you are arrested, at your first opportunity, do document everything you can recall from the stop, including badge numbers, car numbers, details of the arrest – tell your attorney every detail you can recall to mount an effective defense against charges you face.
Charged with Recklessly Endangering Safety
Defenses to recklessly endangering safety charges may include violations of your rights such as when an officer does not have probable cause to stop or perform a search, failure to provide a Miranda warning informing someone of their right to be silent and to have an attorney, pleading down to a lesser charge, and other strategies depending on the circumstances and charges you face. If you or a family member are charged with recklessly endangering safety, it is crucial to work with an experienced criminal defense attorney – contact the law offices of Andrew C. Ladd for immediate assistance at 262-542-3900.