Most Michigan residents have been pulled over by the police at one time or another. The experience can be stressful and intimidating, even when the stop is for something minor, like a nonfunctioning taillight. For this reason, some individuals may be wary of stopping when instructed to do so by a police officer. Although that feeling may have some justification, it is against the law to fail to stop when instructed to do so by an officer.
Under Michigan law, it is a felony to willfully fail to obey a police officers’ direction to stop a vehicle. This direction may come in the form of a squad car’s flashing lights or siren, an officer’s hand signals, or a verbal command. A conviction for this offense could result in imprisonment for up to two years and/or a fine of up to $2,000, not to mention the damage that can be caused to one’s personal and professional reputation.
Those who have been accused of committing this offense may have criminal defense options available to them. First, this law only applies if the officer giving the command is in uniform and his or her vehicle is marked as a police vehicle. Also, in order to obtain a conviction, a prosecutor must prove that the defendant willfully failed to stop. This means that it must be shown that the defendant knowing and intentionally avoided the officer’s commands.
The specific legal approach taken in these circumstances depends on the facts of the case. Thus, Michiganders who have been accused of fleeing the police and similar crimes, such as resisting arrest, should carefully consider what they can do protect their rights.
Source: Michigan Legislature, “Section 750.479a,” accessed on Dec. 23, 2016