Penal Code 4532 PC | Escape from Custody

Penal Code 4532 PC | Escape from Custody

Getting arrested is scary. Being taken into custody makes you feel powerless. Its natural to want to get away. But escaping from custody is illegal. This article explains California Penal Code 4532 PC — the law against escape from custody.

Lets start with the basics. Penal Code 4532 PC is the California statute that makes it a crime to escape from custody. This includes escaping from jail, prison, and other forms of detention. It can be charged as a felony or misdemeanor.

Elements of the Crime

To convict you under this law, prosecutors must prove the following:

  • You were arrested and in custody at a California detention facility, or in the custody of an officer; and
  • You escaped from that facility or from custody

“Custody” means your freedom of movement is controlled by a peace officer or institution. This includes when your placed under arrest, detained in jail or prison, housed in a mental health facility, or confined to a rehab program.

“Escape” is defined as the unlawful departure of a prisoner from the limits of his or her custody. It dosnt require force or violence. You escape custody by sneaking out an open door or window, slipping out of handcuffs, or running away from an officer before being booked.

Lets look at some examples of illegal escapes under Penal Code 4532 PC:

  • Paul pushes a guard and runs out the front door of jail.
  • Amanda sneaks out the back of a womens rehab facility at night.
  • Mark slips out of his handcuffs at the police station and exits through a window when the officers arnt looking.

As you can see, escapes from custody take many forms. But there all illegal under this statute.

Penalties for Escape from Custody

Escape is always a felony in California if your escaping from state prison or a county jail. Specifically, a state prison escape is a felony punishable by 16 months, 2 years or 3 years in prison. A county jail escape is a felony punishable by 16 months, 2 years or 3 years in jail.

Otherwise, escape from custody is a wobbler under Penal Code 4532. This means it can be charged as either a misdemeanor or felony, at the prosecutors discretion.

If charged as a misdemeanor, the crime is punishable by up to one year in county jail.

If charged as a felony, the potential penalties are:

  • 16 months, 2 years or 3 years in county jail; and/or
  • A fine of up to $10,000

Factors that influence the DA’s charging decision include:

  • Your criminal record, if any
  • Whether violence or injuries occured during the escape
  • The facility you escaped from

In addition to the above penalties, a felony conviction will also cause you to lose certain civil rights, like the right to own a gun. It can also hurt your immigration status if your not a U.S. citizen.

Legal Defenses

If your facing charges under Penal Code 4532 PC, some legal defenses that could get them reduced or dismissed include:

  • You werent “in custody”
    For example, if you simply walked away after a cop detained but didnt arrest you. Or if you left rehab but hadnt been admitted yet.
  • You didnt “escape”
    For instance, if you had permission or were released by the facility.
  • False accusations
    You were wrongfully accused of escaping when you did no such thing.
  • Coercion
    You were forced to escape by threats of violence.

A good criminal defense lawyer can help argue these defenses and get your charges reduced or dismissed.

Related Offenses

Closely related to escape from custody are the following crimes:

The penalties for these offenses depend on the facility escaped from. But there all prosecuted similarly to escapes from custody.

Stay Out of Trouble

Getting arrested is no fun. And being locked up can make you feel trapped. But escaping will only lead to more legal problems. If you find yourself in custody, stay put and let the justice system run its course. Hire an attorney to help get you the best possible outcome.

For questions about Penal Code 4532 PC or to discuss your case confidentially with one of our California criminal defense attorneys, dont hesitate to reach out to us.