Friday, June 10, 2011

15 years in prison for fleeing the police (third offense) because it's a violent felony, regardless if DUI or not

Running from the cops in a vehicle can end up bad for a third offender - mandatory 15-year term in federal prison.

The United States Supreme Court says "vehicular flight" counts as a violent felony under the Armed Career Criminal Act, triggering the mandatory term if it is a third offense.

Congress adopted the law in 1984 as an early version of a "three strikes" measure. Gun-carrying criminals with three violent felonies on their record would get at least 15 years in prison.

Since the didn't define what crimes counted - except to mention burglary, arson, extortion and other acts that involved force or a risk of serious injury - they tried to intepret meanings, beginning in 2007: attempted burglary counts since it can lead to a violent confrontation.

However in 2008, the Supremes held DUI does not qualify because it is not an aggressively violent act.

Speeding away from the police "presents a serious potential risk of physical injury to another," said Justice Anthony M. Kennedy. "It is a provocative and dangerous act that dares, and in a typical case requires, the officer to give chase."

California DUI attorneys are obviously concerned as some DUI drivers can be suspected of fleeing or evading the police.