Evading a Police Officer
In Utah it is a crime to fail to stop when commanded by a police officer. The statute that applies is Utah Code 76-8-305.5 and states that it is a class A misdemeanor when one eludes a law enforcement office after receiving a verbal or visual command to stop for the purpose of avoiding arrest.
What About Probable Cause?
This statute, however, is vague and ambiguous. In the first place it raises the issue of probable cause. A law enforcement officer only has the authority to stop a person if there is at least reasoanble articulable suspicion to make the stop. That means that the officer must have some reason for believing the suspect has been engaged in criminal activity.
The evading police statute seems to make reasonable suspicion and probable cause irrelevant. From the plain language of the statute one would think that a police officer can command anyone to stop for any reason, but such a reading of the statute, contradicts hundreds of years of common law. Nonetheless, that is the very reading that prosecutors give it.
If such an interpretation were accepted it would give our police authority only seen in totalitarian regimes such as Soviet Russia and Nazi Germany. “Papers please” would become the mantra in Utah if this statute were read to mean that a cop could stop anyone without cause or reasonable suspicion. The fact that someone can be sent to jail for a year for not stopping at the command of a police officer gives that statute a lot of teeth.
Defense Lawyers Protecting You Against the State
Perhaps you have been charged with failing to stop at the command of a police officer and if so let our criminal defense lawyers protect you. There are many facts which surround these type of charge which can present solid defenses. We’ll find those defenses and use them to protect your rights and not allow the state to trample on your rights.
Call us at 801.618.1334 to find out how we can help you.