Friday, January 28, 2005

Two Section 2800.2 Cases

I have to depart from my usual title format to get both of these in, since I thought they were worthy of at least brief mention -- especially since it's fairly uncommon to have two cases in two days on the same statute.

Both cases concern Section 2800.2 of the Vehicle Code, which deals with evading a police officer while driving. I'm of the strong belief that we need to punish such offenses fairly severely. Nonetheless, I agreed with the result in both cases, which I thought articulated sensible limits on the statute.

On Wednesday, in People v. Diaz, the California Court of Appeal very marginally limited the statute by holding that you can't establish a violation of Section 2800.2(b) -- which states that evading a police officer evinces a "wilful and wanton disregard for safety" if there are three moving violations -- by having one of the three violation being failure to yield to the police (a violation of Section 21806), since that would double-count the violation (since evading the police always entails a failure to yield). And on Thursday, in People v. Howard, the California Supreme Court held that a violation of Section 2800.2 wasn't a felony "inherently dangerous to human life" for purposes of the felony murder rule.

Ironically enough, a decent (though by no means perfect) example of a violation of Section 2800.2 that wasn't inherently dangerous to human life was Diaz, which had been decided the previous day. Obviously, the majority in Howard didn't cite it. But I'd have been cool if they had. It is the "information age," after all.