POLICE PURSUIT

The offence of police pursuit is listed under section 51B of the Crimes Act 1900. The offence is also known as Skye’s Law as it was introduced after the toddler Skye Sassine was killed when a driver attempting to escape police crashed into her parents’ car.

Section 51B of this Act states that the driver of a vehicle:

  1. who knows, ought reasonably to know or has reasonable grounds to suspect that police officers are in pursuit of the vehicle and that the driver is required to stop the vehicle; and
  2. who does not stop the vehicle; and
  3. who then drives the vehicle recklessly or at a speed or in a manner dangerous to others,

is guilty of an offence.

Elements of the offence

In order to establish this offence the prosecution must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that:

  1. the driver knew, ought reasonably to have known or has reasonable grounds to suspect that police officers were in pursuit;
  2. the driver knew, ought reasonably to have known or has reasonable grounds to suspect that the driver was required to stop the vehicle;
  3. the driver did not stop the vehicle; and
  4. the driver subsequently drove the vehicle recklessly or at a speed or in a manner dangerous to others.

Defences

Defences that may be raised against this charge include:

  • arguing that the driver did not know the police were pursuing and had no reason to suspect they were pursuing (perhaps because the lights and sirens could not be heard);
  • arguing that the driver did not drive the vehicle recklessly or at a speed or in a manner dangerous to others after the pursuit was engaged;
  • arguing the defence of necessity and establishing that the accused was compelled by a threat of danger to commit the offence;
  • arguing the defence of duress and establishing the accused was under pressure or undue persuasion by another person to commit the offence.

Penalties

In the case of a first offence the maximum penalty is imprisonment for 3 years. In the case of a second or subsequent offence the maximum penalty is imprisonment for 5 years.

If you have been charged with a police pursuit, call Karnib & Co Lawyers at any time on 0450503696 or email us on [email protected] to arrange a free consultation. For those who are unable to attend our offices, we offer conferences by telephone, Skype, Zoom and FaceTime anywhere around the world.