An eluding criminal charge in New Jersey is governed by N.J.S. 2C:29-2(b) which provides in pertinent part:
§ 2C:29-2. Resisting arrest, eluding officer
b. Any person, while operating a motor vehicle on any street or highway in this State or any vessel, as defined pursuant to section 2 of P.L. 1995, c. 401, on the waters of this State, who knowingly flees or attempts to elude any police or law enforcement officer after having received any signal from such officer to bring the vehicle or vessel to a full stop commits a crime of the third degree; except that, a person is guilty of a crime of the second degree if the flight or attempt to elude creates a risk of death or injury to any person. For purposes of this subsection, there shall be a permissive inference that the flight or attempt to elude creates a risk of death or injury to any person if the person’s conduct involves a violation of chapter 4 of Title 39 or chapter 7 of Title 12 of the Revised Statutes. In addition to the penalty prescribed under this subsection or any other section of law, the court shall order the suspension of that person’s driver’s license, or privilege to operate a vessel, whichever is appropriate, for a period of not less than six months or more than two years.
According to the above statute, eluding can be a second degree criminal offense or a third degree criminal offense in New Jersey depending on the circumstances of the alleged eluding charge. If the eluding offense creates risk of death or injury to any person, the eluding charge is enhanced from a third degree charge to a second degree charge. This is a crucial difference because a third degree offense does not contain a presumption of imprisonment and includes between three (3) and five (5) years in state prison. Moreover, if the defendant has no prior criminal record, the defendant may be admitted into the Pre-Trial Intervention program and avoid any criminal conviction altogether. However, if the charge becomes a second degree offense, this charge has a presumption of incarceration and includes between five (5) and ten (10) years in state prison.