A woman from St. Augustine is facing eleven criminal charges after allegedly fleeing from police. According to an article in The Florida Times Union, police received several 911 calls reporting a car driving erratic and aggressively. After police tried to stop the vehicle, the woman allegedly accelerated rapidly and intentionally rammed occupied vehicles. The woman apparently had two small children in the car and eventually stopped after crashing into another car. Even when police got their hands on the woman, they claim she continued to pull away. The woman is facing one count of reckless driving, two counts of fleeing and eluding police, four counts of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon, one count of aggravated battery with injury, two counts of child neglect and resisting an officer without violence.
The most serious of the charges are the felonies. In Florida, aggravated assault with a deadly weapon is a third degree felony punishable by up to five years in prison. In order to prove this charge, the prosecutor must show that the woman threatened someone with violence, had the ability to carry that violence out, put the victim in fear of the violence and used a deadly weapon to threaten. In this case, the deadly weapon would be the car she was driving. Aggravated battery is intentionally causing great bodily harm to someone and is a second degree felony in Florida.
The charges of child neglect may seem not so obvious. Just having the children and erratically driving a vehicle could be considered child neglect or abuse in St. Johns County. Under Florida law, neglect of a child occurs when a guardian fails to provide the child with care or supervision necessary to maintain the child’s physical health. It is a prudent-person standard, which means the standard is what would a reasonable person do to protect the child. Each child neglect charge is a third degree felony and the maximum punishment is five years in prison. Fleeing and eluding the police is a second degree felony. In order to prove this charge, the State Attorney’s Office has to prove the woman operated a vehicle and willfully refused to stop the car after being ordered to stop by an authorized law enforcement officer.