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What Are the Penalties for Fleeing from an Officer in Wisconsin?

In Wisconsin, as in all other states, a driver is expected to obey the signals and directions of law enforcement officers. This includes pulling over when officers activate their lights and sirens. Failing to comply with the orders from a cop can result in a misdemeanor or felony charge.

What Is Prohibited Under the Law?

Law enforcement officers may deliver various orders, such as using hand signals to direct traffic or requesting a motorist to stop at a DUI checkpoint. In some cases, the officer might use visible or audible signals to direct a driver to stop their vehicle.

Under Wisconsin Statute § 346.04, a person cannot:

  • Refuse to obey any order, signal or direction given by a traffic officer
  • Fail to stop their car when directed to do so by an officer
  • Attempt to elude or flee an officer

Is the Offense a Misdemeanor or Felony?

Fleeing from an officer can be charged as either a misdemeanor or felony offense. The level depends on the circumstances.

Misdemeanor

Suppose the police received a report one night that Chad was driving his vehicle at 100 mph. An officer is dispatched to pull him over. Chad sees the lights of the police car but doesn't stop. For his actions, he could be charged with a misdemeanor offense. If he is found guilty of failing to stop for a traffic officer, he could be fined up to $10,000 and/or imprisoned for a maximum of 9 months.

Class I Felony

Say when Chad saw the cop's lights in his rearview mirror, instead of slowing down, he sped up and shut off his headlights to avoid being apprehended. This conduct increases the failure to stop for an officer offense to fleeing or eluding, which is a class I felony. A conviction for this offense carries with it a maximum prison term of 3 years, 6 months and/or a fine of up to $10,000.

Class H Felony

Let's take the situation with Chad a little further. While he is speeding down the highway, Chad hits another vehicle on the road. Because he caused damage to another person's property, he faces a Class H felony charge. The penalties include a prison sentence of up to 6 years and/or a fine of up to $10,000.

Class F & Class E Felony

Suppose a person was in the vehicle Chad hit, and they suffered great bodily harm. The state defines great bodily harm as that which could cause substantial risk of death, serious permanent disfigurement, or temporary loss of impairment of a body part. The offense is now a class F felony, and Chad can be sentenced to up to 12 years, 6 months in prison and be fined up to $25,000. If the person dies, the crime increases to a Class E felony and results in imprisonment of up to 15 years and/or a fine of up to $50,000.

If you need aggressive and effective legal defense in Milwaukee, schedule a free consultation with the Law Offices of Christopher J. Cherella by calling (414) 882-8382 or filling out an online contact form.

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