Criminal: HUFF V. COM. (COA 10/6/2006)

CRIMINAL:  Fleeing and evading

DATE RENDERED:  10/6/2006

CA affirmed in part and reversed in part the judgment of the Bell Circuit Court finding him guilty of fleeing or evading police in the first degree, operating a motor vehicle on a license suspended for DUI, and disregarding a stop sign. TC should have granted Huff’s directed verdict motion on the first-degree fleeing or evading charge.

Viewed in the light most favorable to the Commonwealth, the evidence in this case established that Huff was directed to stop by a police officer and that, instead of stopping immediately, he proceeded to drive until he reached his residence. The distance and duration of Officer Burchett’s pursuit of Huff were short. Both Burchett and Huff testified that Huff drove slowly and observed all stop signs after Burchett signaled him to pull over. Further, Huff made no effort to get away from Burchett once he reached his residence, nor did he offer any resistance when he was arrested. KRS 520.095 clearly requires the Commonwealth to establish that Huff intended to elude or flee from police when he disregarded Officer Burchett’s order to stop. As a matter of law, we find the evidence produced at trial did not satisfy the statutory requirement that Huff intended to flee or evade as those words are commonly used. Nor do we believe the legislature intended to impose a felony conviction on someone in Huff’s position whose actions posed no danger to others and who demonstrated no intent to avoid being under police control. Had the legislature intended to punish such conduct, they could have drafted the statute to punish any person who failed to immediately stop their vehicle when directed to do so by a police officer, regardless of the suspect’s intent.

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