It can be a terrifying experience to see flashing lights in your rearview mirror. Your mind races, thinking what could possibly happen to you if you stop the car. Some people decide that they will try to outrun the police. In the long run, this makes a bad situation worse. When police are finally able to stop you, the benefit of the doubt is gone. Charges will be enhanced, making some defenses or options unavailable to you.
A teen from Paulsboro, New Jersey, learned this lesson the hard way. Seth Gaunt, 18, was driving north on I-295, toward Philadelphia. The truck he was driving was stolen, and various law enforcement agencies from the tri-state area tried to stop the vehicle. Gaunt struck a toll booth, but proceeded on. He continued on I-95 before colliding with a Philadelphia police car, injuring the officer.
Gaunt faces numerous felony charges including eluding a police officer, resisting arrest, receiving stolen property, possession of stolen property, aggravated assault on a police officer and attempted murder. In addition, Gaunt faces numerous other motor vehicle charges including DUI/DWI, reckless driving, speeding, failure to maintain a lane, failure to keep to the right on a roadway, failure to yield to an emergency vehicle and failure to give a proper signal. Because of these charges he faces substantial prison time, the loss of his driver's license and substantial fines if convicted.
But what would have happened if Gaunt had stopped when the police told him to? While he certainly would have been facing some serious charges, he may have had an opportunity to present a viable defense to some of the charges. For instance, those accused of a DUI/DWI may have several ways to fight the charges. An experienced attorney can challenge the evidence obtained by the police, including the reason for the stop and whether there was enough evidence to arrest for DUI/DWI. Breath or blood test results will also need to have been obtained properly or they will also be inadmissible. In addition, sometimes the alcotest results can be successfully challenged based upon law enforcement's failure to monitor the accused for twenty minutes prior to administering the alcotest (the "twenty minute rule").
In addition to attacking the case that the police may have against the accused, there is also the opportunity to have some charges reduced through negotiation with the prosecution or plea bargaining. Criminal offenses and motor vehicle offenses such as those referenced above can sometimes be reduced making punishment less severe. If the offenses are more serious or of a higher profile, it may be more difficult to get the prosecution to agree to a deal that reduces any of the charges to a significant degree.
Even if the situation seems bleak, you still have options. By eluding the police you will only cause yourself more problems which will make your situation worse. If you have been accused of a crime, can speak with an experienced attorney in Bergen County, NJ today! The Law Offices of Joseph R. Donahue, LLC will be able to advise you of the rights that may be available. Call us at (201) 574-7919.