You don’t have to break out of prison or walk away from a road crew for prosecutors to charge you with violating Florida Statute 944.40, Escape:
“Any prisoner confined in, or released on furlough from, any prison, jail, private correctional facility, road camp, or other penal institution, whether operated by the state, a county, or a municipality, or operated under a contract with the state, a county, or a municipality, working upon the public roads, or being transported to or from a place of confinement who Escapes or attempts to Escape from such confinement…”
The law defines “prisoner” as “any person who is under civil or criminal arrest and in the lawful custody of any law enforcement official, or any person committed to or detained in any municipal or county jail or state prison, prison farm, or penitentiary, or to the custody of the department pursuant to lawful authority.” In other words, once law enforcement places you under arrest, you are considered to be a prisoner in their custody from that moment.
How Much Time does an Escape Charge Carry?
The sentence for fleeing with “the intent to avoid lawful confinement” is more confinement. Slipping away from custody – or attempting to – is a second-degree felony. A conviction results in up to 15 years in prison, which they add to any sentence you are already serving. The charge also carries a fine of up to $10,000.
Also, a conviction on Escape charges on your criminal record increases the penalty for a future conviction. Under Florida Sentencing Guidelines, Escape is a Legal Status Violation, which adds points to your Sentencing Scorecard. An Escape from a Juvenile Facility or AidingorAssistinganEscapeis a third-degree felony. The sentence is up to five years in prison and a fine of up to $5,000.
Police can charge anyone who helps an escaped person with violating Florida Statute 944.46:
Harboring, concealing, aiding escaped prisoners, which is also a third-degree felony.
Defense Against Florida Escape Charges
An expert criminal defense attorney knows that the letter of the law matters. Skillful interpretation of the wording of a statute can make all the difference for a criminal defendant facing harsh penalties.
For instance, the Escape statute specifically uses the words “lawful confinement” and “lawful arrest.” Police have to fulfill several requirements for an arrest to be considered valid. For example, an officer has to effectively communicate to a suspect that he is under arrest – not merely being detained. A Florida Appeals Court threw out a charge of Escape because the officer did not properly arrest the defendant.
A diligent criminal defense lawyer conducts a thorough investigation of your case and builds a strong defense based on the specific circumstances unique to your situation. If you’re facing criminal charges in Florida, you need a smart, tough, and aggressive defense. Consider the Orlando Criminal Defense Attorneys at Rivas Law. Call 407-349-4211 to talk to a lawyer and discuss your options.