Stricter Penalties

To post your published or unpublished articles and opinions on the subject of "Stricter Penalties for Those Who Flee," please send them to: candypriano@kristieslaw.org 

Fleeing suspects need to be caught and punished to the fullest extent of the law.  Senator Sam Aanestad and his staff are reviewing the current state law on penalties for those who flee.  His researchers have uncovered that today's laws for fleeing suspects are not being enforced. Penalties for eluding police are often thrown out in the "bargaining process." Senator Aanestad plans to address this issue.

Often, officers say we just need stricter penalties.  Stricter penalties alone are not the answer because the reason people flee is because they think they will not get caught. Well, if suspects believe they won't get caught, they are still going to flee, no matter what the penalty is for fleeing an officer.  

However, stricter penalties will hold fleeing suspects accountable for their actions.  How many times have you read news stories about an innocent person being killed by a drunk driver (and it's the driver's third or fourth or fifth offense). This same scenario occurs with fleeing suspects. Often fleeing suspects are not held accountable for their actions until they kill an innocent victim and then the penalty is only involuntary manslaughter. DUI and pursuit crashes are not accidents! For this reason, the penalty should fit the crime—murder.


Florida adopts changes to Fleeing and Eluding Statute   


From PursuitWatch.org      

On June 30, 2004, Gov. Jeb Bush signed into law HB 295, introduced by Florida State Rep. Pat Patterson-R. Among other important changes, the bill increases penalties for fleeing or attempting to elude a law enforcement officer and aggravated fleeing or eluding. Fleeing or attempting to elude has been upgraded to a 3rd degree felony carrying a maximum sentence of 5 years. Aggravated Fleeing remains a 2nd degree felony with a maximum sentence of 15 years. An additional category of Aggravated Fleeing was added when serious bodily harm or death occurs as a result and is classified as a first degree felony with a maximum sentence of 30 years. 

Jim Phillips is an amazing father and friend. After the tragic death of his beautiful daughter Sarah, Jim continues to help and guide innocent victims of police pursuits through the national organization called "PursuitWatch." Sarah was killed by a drunk driver being pursued by officers in Florida on December 13, 2001. After more than two years, the Phillips family finally had their day in court.  As with most crime victims, the Phillips' family believes justice was not served. The jury renders a verdict of not guilty for second degree murder, a slap in the face for Sarah's parents. The jury did render verdicts of guilty for vehicular manslaughter, DUI, and fleeing officers. Visit PursuitWatch and scroll to the bottom of the page: The State of Florida v. Shamir Suber.


Thursday, December 30, 2004 

To the editor: 
Public safety & Stricter Penalties You drink, you drive, you lose. We all heard about all those warnings before. Click it or ticket. New work zone laws. Seat belt, helmet laws. We know laws are not meant to be broken but to obey. 

Now back to this: You drink, you drive, you lose. I'll tell you what is the big problem, it's not adding more police to patrol the streets and highways. Which, I say, is good but I see a waste of time and money and risk of lives, injury and even death in high-speed chases. Now back to the big problem. I've said this before but it don't seem to penetrate the minds of those in authority. Be sure of this. Probably nine out of 10 alcohol-related drivers that will get a ticket and stand before judges and prosecutors have stood before those judges and lawyers about twice in the past month. Now here is the big problem that should be abolished, the sooner the better. And better for the criminal, better for society, a money saver and a life saver. Definitely ban the plea-bargain deals and other senseless deals that give the law breakers and criminals the right to choose for themselves whether to go to jail or back in society to continue where they left off before they got caught. Our lawmakers are responsible for the safety and protection of the public. But I see they are not fulfilling their obligation rightfully. If our judicial system would take to heart and put to work the question WWJD? Be certain then of a ... happier, healthy, safe New Year.


One wonders when judges will do their jobs and enforce the
law by issuing the strictest penalties possible to people who flee and people who drive drunk.


Letter to the Editor:
No Room for Bargaining


The objectives of police pursuits are to apprehend violators, who refuse to voluntarily comply with the law requiring them to stop, without unnecessarily endangering officers, citizens or property.