Twice in the last several weeks, Washington police have had to chase down suspects in stolen cars who tried to evade them on roadways instead of just pulling over. In both instances, officers were injured and property was damaged, adding to the potential charges the suspects face.
Just before 5 a.m. on a mid-July morning, police were following up on a report of people sleeping in a car that was illegally parked in a space designated for disabled drivers. When officers arrived, the driver rammed the patrol car and sped away. While some officers pursued the car, others anticipated their route and spread a spike strip across the road. With tires flattened, the driver was forced to stop.
Police took into custody a man and a woman who were passengers, and the woman who was driving. The man eventually was released, but the women were arrested. The driver faces charges of three counts of first-degree assault, and one count each of resisting arrest, malicious mischief and possession of a stolen motor vehicle.
The other chase occurred in late June, but the suspect did not get very far after he stole a car in need of repairs. The car was stolen at about 2 a.m. The owner immediately reported the theft and told officers engine problems would only allow the car to run for five minutes at a time. When deputies spotted the stolen car later that night, the driver fled, leading multiple officers on an erratic car chase. The stolen car would periodically speed up and slow down. Eventually, it stopped altogether.
The two men in the car then fled on foot. One man was quickly caught, but the other managed to find an unlocked home where he took keys and stole the owner's pickup truck. Driving a second stolen vehicle, the suspect crashed through two fences to elude police. Though the driver got away, his accomplice was jailed and faces multiple charges, including possession of a stolen motor vehicle, possession of stolen property, possession of methamphetamine, possession of vehicle theft tools, dangerous weapon violation, and resisting arrest.
If convicted on just the charges of auto theft and eluding police, the suspects can be sentenced to years in jail and face thousands of dollars in court fees and fines.
Under the Revised Code of Washington, attempting to elude a police vehicle means a driver willfully failed or refused to immediately stop. It is a Class C felony, punishable by up to five years in prison, or a fine of up to $10,000, or both.
Depending upon the amount of property damaged caused by the drivers when they were attempting to evade capture, malicious mischief charges can range from misdemeanors to Class B felonies. Because officers were injured by the drivers, prosecutors could presume they intended to inflict great bodily harm and tack on charges of assault in the first degree, a Class A felony, punishable by up to life in prison, or a $50,000 fine, or both.
When facing multiple charges, a defendant needs an experienced attorney who can sort through the facts and come to the best possible resolution for his client. If you have been arrested or are facing criminal charges, call the Seattle Law Office of Steve Karimi at (206) 621-8777 or contact him online.