Escaping Arrest or Imprisonment

Escaping Arrest or ImprisonmentUnder Florida law, the crime of custody escape occurs where an arrested or convicted defendant flees or attempts to flee from custody with the intent to avoid lawful confinement. This crime is a second-degree felony with penalties of up to 15 years in prison. If you or a loved one is facing custody escape charges, know that there are several defenses that may lead to a reduced sentence or even a dismissal of the case. It’s important that you have an expert Florida custody escape lawyer by your side to help fight for your rights.

From its legal definition under Florida law to its potential defenses, here’s everything you need to know about custody escape in the Sunshine State.

How Is Custody Escape Defined in Florida?

Custody escape, according to Florida Statute 944.40 is defined by the following terms:

“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 commits a felony of the second degree.”

In simpler terms, Florida law prohibits anyone from escaping or attempting to escape when under a lawful arrest or during confinement at an institution. Likewise, custody escape can occur when an arrested person who’s being transported to or from a place of confinement escapes or attempts to escape during transportation.

What Does the Prosecutor Need to Prove to Convict a Defendant of Custody Escape?

Custody escape consists of three elements that the state prosecutor has to prove beyond a reasonable doubt:

  1. The defendant was under arrest and in the lawful custody of an enforcement official
  2. While a prisoner, the defendant was either confined to an institution, being transported, or working on a public road
  3. The defendant escaped or attempted to escape with the intent to avoid lawful confinement

In this case, an institution can be a prison, jail, private correctional facility, work release program, or road camp.

What Are the Penalties for Custody Escape in Florida?

Escape is considered a Level 6 offense under Florida’s Criminal Punishment Code. If convicted of custody escape in Florida, you can face up to 15 years in prison, 15 years of probation, and a $10,000 fine. The punishment of imprisonment, if applicable, would run consecutive to any former sentence imposed upon any prisoner.

Defenses to Custody Escape in Florida

One of the most important components often overlooked in custody escape cases is the element of a valid arrest. To be arrested and charged with custody escape in the state of Florida, there must first be a lawful arrest. An expert Florida custody escape lawyer may be able to help you prove that your arrest was not performed legally.

An arrest, in this case, is defined by the following guidelines:

  • The arresting officer intends to arrest
  • The officer actually or constructively seizes the defendant
  • The officer’s intent to arrest is communicated by the officer to the defendant
  • The defendant understands the communication

If the officer failed to effectively communicate the arrest, the defendant was never truly under arrest and therefore could not have escaped from custody. Your attorney may also argue the following:

  • Lack of knowledge that the arresting person was a law enforcement officer
  • The officer’s actions were insufficient to constitute an arrest
  • The arrest was unlawful or illegal
  • There was a lack of intent to escape

It’s important that you don’t try to attack this case alone. An expert criminal defense attorney will best be able to help you understand the law and choose a winning defense strategy depending on the circumstances of your case.

Contact the Trusted Attorneys at The Umansky Law Firm

If you or a loved one has been arrested for custody escape in Florida and need help protecting your rights, the expert legal team at The Umansky Law Firm can help. As former prosecutors and public defenders at state and local levels, our Orlando custody escape attorneys can provide you with a sound strategy and a concrete defense based on years of experience working in the Florida criminal justice system. We understand the ins and outs of Florida custody escape law and serve to protect our clients from further punishment and damage to their reputation.

With over 100 years of combined legal experience, our team has the time and expertise to launch an investigation into your case and the circumstances leading up to your arrest. We’ll work tirelessly to fight for your rights. Give us a call at (407) 228-3838 or complete our online contact form to receive a free consultation.