Engaging In Police Pursuit in Connecticut
While high speed police car chases make for compelling television, it can make an even more compelling criminal case against you if you do not pull over when police activate their overhead lights and sirens. Nothing can make a routine traffic stop more serious than a driver’s failure to obey a Connecticut police officer’s instruction to pull over to the side of the road. Police and prosecutors are close to having zero tolerance for Connecticut drivers who fail to comply with these instructions and will not hesitate to enforce the Connecticut misdemeanor and felony Engaging in Pursuit statutes. So if you are arrested in Darien, Greenwich, or Stamford Connecticut for Engaging in Pursuit under CGS 14-223, you should contact a top Stamford traffic lawyer right away to understand the nature and consequences of the charges brought against you and take the first step in getting your charges dismissed or resolved to your satisfaction.
Is 14-223 Engaging in Pursuit a Minor Traffic Infraction, Misdemeanor, or Felony?
All of the above. As the best Greenwich and Stamford lawyers have observed, the seriousness of your Connecticut 14-223 Engaging in Pursuit arrest depends on several factors: your rate of speed, your intent to evade or elude the police, whether anyone was injured or killed during the police chase, and whether you have prior convictions for a 14-223 Connecticut Engaging Pursuit arrest. Similarly, the severity of the penalties and punishments for your 14-223 Engaging in Police Pursuit depends on the subsection of 14-223 for which you are arrested. Therefore, it is critical that a top Stamford or Greenwich criminal attorney reviews your police reports carefully to make sure you were not mistakenly or illegally arrested for 14-223 Engaging in Pursuit in Stamford, Fairfield, Greenwich, or Darien.
The Infraction – Failing to Stop when Signaled / Disobeying Direction of Officer under CGS 14-223(a)
The least serious charge in a Connecticut Engaging in Pursuit case is the infraction of Failing to Stop when Signaled, also called Disobeying Direction of Officer per C.G.S. § 14-223(a). Connecticut police and state troopers issue this infraction when they do not believe you were trying to elude them and usually cite this section when they believe you honestly did not see the police cruiser or unmarked vehicle in your rearview mirror. Thus, if you fail to promptly stop upon an officer’s signal or fail to follow any other direction by a police officer who is tailing you, directing traffic, or assisting in a construction zone, then you can be ticketed for this infraction and fined up to $50. Because this is a Connecticut motor vehicle infraction and not a crime, there is no exposure to jail time or probation. However, if you mail in a guilty plea for a 14-223(a) Failing to Stop when Signaled ticket in Stamford, Darien, Fairfield, Greenwich or Norwalk, you will be assessed 2 points on your driving record, which can trigger a driver’s license suspension under certain circumstances, and will be reported to your auto insurance carrier. So before pleading guilty by mail in Connecticut for a Stamford or Greenwich 14-223(a) Disobeying Direction of Officer / Failing to Stop when Signaled ticket, be sure to contact a top Greenwich or Stamford traffic ticket criminal lawyer to discuss your options in fighting these tickets.
The Misdemeanor – Engaging in Police Pursuit per CGS 14-223(b)
Disobeying the Signals of a police or state trooper cruiser escalates to a criminal misdemeanor arrest in Connecticut when the arresting officer has probable cause to believe you increased the speed of your motor vehicle in an attempt to escape and elude the officer. This is the most frequently charged Engaging in Police Pursuit crime under C.G.S. § 14-223(b). Here, however, the police must prove you not only increased your speed during the chase, but also did so in an intentional attempt to evade or elude the police. Yet, top Stamford and Greenwich criminal lawyers have successfully argued that sometimes a driver will have to increase their speed to safely pull over on some of Connecticut’s busiest highway and roadways. For example, drivers in the left-hand lanes of I-95, I-91, I-84 and the Merritt Parkway who are pulled over for Speeding must sometimes accelerate in the left lane in order to safely cross over two lanes to the right shoulder to bring their car to a safe stop. The best Darien and Greenwich criminal lawyers can make this argument to the judge and sometimes get the misdemeanor reduced to an infraction or dropped altogether.
Notably, this Connecticut Engaging in Police Pursuit subdivision is classified as a Class A misdemeanor—the most serious class of misdemeanors—and is punishable by up to a year in prison, a maximum $2,000 fine, and possibly probation. Additionally, 2 points will be assessed on your DMV driving record. And as with any misdemeanor conviction, for the rest of your life, the crime will show up on every background check run by a potential employer, landlord, or lender. With the stakes this high, do not take chances by going into court alone. Call a top Stamford Connecticut criminal lawyer to discuss the possibility of getting your 14-223(b) Engaging in Pursuit charge dismissed.
The Felony – Engaging in Pursuit Causing Injury or Death – CGS 14-223(b)
The most serious Engaging in a Police Pursuit charge is the felony subsection codified in Connecticut General Statutes § 14-223(b). Connecticut State Troopers, along with Stamford or Greenwich police, will arrest you under this subsection if, while trying to elude a police officer trying to pull you over, you increase the speed of your motor vehicle and cause death or serious physical injury in the process of the car chase. Some of the best Connecticut criminal and traffic lawyers will focus on the “serious physical injury” requirement of this charge, as this element is strictly construed by Connecticut criminal courts. Generally, to qualify as a “serious physical injury,” a victim of a 14-223 Engaging in Pursuit crime must have suffered a broken bone. Bumps, bruises, whiplash, concussions, and a sore back or neck do not qualify, even if the injuries require hospitalization, multiple doctor visits, or physical therapy. Connecticut criminal judges and prosecutors usually take the position that for those injuries, a victim can seek damages and restitution for emotional pain and suffering in the civil courts.
Keep in mind, however, that when a victim is in fact seriously injured or killed during a police pursuit, Stamford and Connecticut police charge this crime as a Class C felony, carrying a prison term of up to 10 years, a maximum $10,000 fine and probation. A conviction of this felony 14-223(b) charge will also result in a one-year suspension of your Connecticut driver’s license or, if licensed out-of-state, your Connecticut driving privileges. Obviously, the consequences of this felony Engaging in Pursuit charge are life-changing, so if you are arrested in Stamford, Greenwich, or Darien for felony 14-223(b) Engaging in Pursuit – Serious Injury, call a top Stamford criminal defense attorney right away.
Fighting Your 14-223 Engaging in Pursuit Charges
As you decide the best course in defending yourself against a Connecticut 14-223 Engaging in Pursuit charge, you will inevitably focus on the prosecution’s evidence gathered against you. The Mark Sherman Law team of Stamford criminal lawyers approach every criminal case with the same methodical and diligent approach. Two of our criminal lawyers review every page of evidence provided to us by the prosecution. We examine police reports, witness statements, 911 calls, and all of the video and audio recordings for inconsistencies, police errors and omissions, and constitutional defects. Our “two-attorney” review process helps us ensure that we have given your case the most aggressive and thorough review possible. Once your file is reviewed, we sit with you and your family to present your defense strategy options.
In Engaging in Pursuit cases, a forensic examination of the arresting officer’s police tapes, radio transmission recordings, dispatch recordings, dashboard and police cruiser cams, and radar / laser calibration records is critical to any 14-223 defense. The following questions will be carefully investigated as we prepare your defense: did you actually increase the speed as the arresting officer was allegedly in pursuit? Did you have the required intent to evade or elude the police officer? How can the prosecution prove this intent? Were there any other witnesses or surveillance cameras in the area that recorded this alleged police chase? Does the injury to the alleged victim qualify as “serious physical injury” under Connecticut criminal law? Was the arresting officer’s speed detection equipment properly calibrated? What was the weather on the day of the arrest and how would it have affected your ability to see a marked or unmarked Connecticut police or State Trooper vehicle? How can the prosecutor prove you actually saw the sirens on the unmarked / undercover police car trying to pull you over?
All of these questions are critical in our assessment of the strength of your defense to your Stamford 14-223 Engaging in Pursuit arrest. The Mark Sherman Law’s team of criminal lawyers will address each question with the scrutiny and thoroughness required to give you the best chance to fight your Connecticut Engaging in Pursuit charges. Our team of practical, big-picture trial attorneys will ensure that even the smallest of details in your case are not overlooked.
The Urgency of Preserving Evidence in Your 14-223 Engaging in Pursuit Case
If you are arrested or charged in Stamford, Greenwich or Darien for 14-223 Engaging in Pursuit, then you quickly need to consider whether preserving certain electronic and digital evidence will be necessary for attempting to achieve an acquittal or dismissal in your case. If there is video surveillance from a traffic light or sidewalk store surveillance camera showing that you in fact stopped or decelerated at the direction of a police officer, then you need to have a Connecticut Superior Court judge order that electronic evidence preserved right away before it is overwritten or disappears. Police dispatch records, radio transmissions, dashboard cameras, and 911 tapes could also provide such important information. During the incident, a dashboard camera might have recorded you braking before making a left turn, or a radio transmission might have recorded the officer communicating your speed throughout the incident. This evidence should not be overlooked or overwritten. Evidence like this could make the difference in proving that you did not intend to elude the police, or that you did not accelerate after you were signaled by the police officers to pull over. You should work with your top Stamford Connecticut criminal defense lawyer to file these evidence preservation motions at your first court date to preserve this evidence so that you may use it to help you defend your case.
DMV License Suspension Consequences of 14-223 Engaging in Pursuit Charges
Felony convictions under C.G.S. 14-223(b) that result in serious injury or death of another person will result in a one-year suspension of your driver’s license for the first offense. Subsequent convictions under this section can result in lengthier suspensions of your driver’s license. There is hope, however, for a shorter suspension period. Your top Stamford criminal lawyer can request a hearing before a DMV Commissioner, where you can offer compelling or special circumstances that would warrant a reinstatement of your driver’s license before the expiration of your fixed suspension (such as a medical issue, family circumstance, or financial hardship). Some factors the Commissioner may take into consideration include your commute to work, whether you are the only person in your household with a driver’s license, and whether you are the only means for your children to get to school.
Contact a 14-223 Engaging in Pursuit Stamford Criminal Lawyer Today
As explained above, a typical police stop for a minor moving violation can quickly escalate into a serious Engaging in Pursuit misdemeanor charge if not handled properly. So if you are arrested or ticketed for a 14-223 Engaging in Pursuit or Disobeying the Direction of an Officer, you should contact one of the Stamford criminal attorneys at Mark Sherman Law before pleading guilty by mail or going to court to negotiate your case with a Connecticut prosecutor. A guilty plea to a 14-223 Engaging in Police arrest can have long-lasting consequences on your DMV driving record, insurance rates, and background checks. So get in front of your case by getting in front of a Mark Sherman Law attorney today. Contact us to learn more about your options in fighting your 14-223 Engaging in Pursuit arrest. You will work with our team of experienced criminal lawyers with the goal of getting your 14-223 Connecticut Engaging in Pursuit charges dismissed. Call us today at (203) 358-4700. We are available 24-7 to take your call.