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3 minutes reading time (634 words)

Foreign Driver Fleeing the Police

Case Summary:

The defendant was charged with a count of Fleeing a Police Officer and a count of Reckless Driving. The charges arose because a police officer had asserted the defendant was speeding and attempted to make a traffic stop. The defendant, instead of stopping right away, engaged in rather peculiar driving behavior. After a short "pursuit" the defendant brought their car to a stop on the shoulder after exiting the freeway and was cited for the above charges. Ultimately, the defendant pled guilty and was convicted of speeding (a traffic infraction).The remaining charges were dismissed.

Attorney Comments:

This case makes me angry. My client is a woman from a foreign country and English is a second language for her. This situation absolutely terrified her. As she was driving one night, she passed an ambulance and immediately after passing the ambulance is when the officer turned on his lights to effectuate a traffic stop. My client, thinking the enforcement lights were from the ambulance, moved out of the way to give the "ambulance" space to pass. However, the lights did not pass her and instead got behind her (remember it dark on the highway and she cannot see what is behind her - only that it is lights).My client confused by the "ambulance's" behavior continues driving. She changed lanes again to let the vehicle pass, but it did not. She then sped up to get some separation from it and it only followed. After a short period of time (2 minutes or less probably) she exits the freeway and pulls to the shoulder.

At this point she is ordered out of her vehicle at gun point by the officers. At this time, the officer realizes that he is dealing with a foreign woman and, in the dash cam, you can hear him express his mounting frustration at the situation. Many police units show up and dialogue ensues. This is when the officers learn that she was simply confused and that she was not trying to flee the traffic stop. If the situation had ended here, I might not have even typed up this summary. However, it did not end here.

Instead, one of the officers comes over and tells my client that she is being charged with evading and that it could be a felony. They threaten that they can arrest her, impound her vehicle, and that she will be deported. As I am watching the video of this happen my anger is progressively increasing as you can see my client's fear and emotional state climbing as the CHP officer continues to threaten my client.

Did the officer do anything illegal? Probably not. But this situation highlights very well some of the abuses citizens suffer at the hands of officers. This case should never have been filed. The moment the officers realized that my client was confused about the situation is the moment there was, by law, no longer an evading. In order to be evading, the person must knowingly be evading the police and she was not. Rather than do the right thing by giving her a speeding citation, the State decided it was best to charge her criminally while making threats (some of them not even real).

I told the State that my client would be willing to plead guilty to speeding if the other charges were dismissed. If they did not want to agree to that, then we would be happy to let the citizens of Siskiyou County see (at a jury trial) how abusive their law enforcement agents really can be. The State agreed to the resolution.

Siskiyou County, California

Actual Case Summaries
Be advised that I never promise a client a particular outcome, details of prior cases should not be taken as an indication that other clients will necessarily see the same results.

Improper Use of 911
Anger Management

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Tuesday, 28 June 2022

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