On April 2, 2013, police in Florida arrested a 33-year-old man on an array of charges following a high-speed pursuit. Early in the evening, officers located a taxicab that had been reported stolen from a mall in West Miami-Dade earlier that day. When a Sweetwater police officer attempted to conduct a traffic stop on the stolen vehicle, the driver, later identified as Lazaro Ricardo Castellon, took off.
Castellon led police northbound on the Florida Turnpike at triple-digit speeds, swerving wildly and colliding with several vehicles in heavy traffic. One vehicle hit by Castellon contained an undercover Sweetwater police officer, who unsuccessfully attempted to intervene in the chase. The chase then moved to surface streets, where the driver of the stolen vehicle continued to drive recklessly.
During the pursuit, Castellon rammed into the entrance of a gated residential community and sped through several intersections. The pursuit ended when police officers from several agencies blocked the vehicle in a shopping center near the intersection of Flamingo Road and Miramar Parkway. Castellon was then taken into custody after a subsequent foot chase.
Castellon faces an array of charges arising from the attempted escape, including grand theft auto, fleeing and eluding, possession of controlled substances, and aggravated assault on a police officer. In Florida, a person is guilty of assault if he or she acts unlawfully with the intent to place a victim in fear of imminent harm, when the suspect has the ability to carry out the threat, and where such fear results in the victim. An assault becomes an aggravated assault when a deadly weapon is involved.
Vehicles readily fall into the category of deadly weapons, as a misused vehicle is readily capable of causing death or great bodily injury to another person. However, for the prosecutor to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant committed an aggravated assault, the prosecutor must prove that the defendant intended to commit the act in order to place the victim in fear of imminent bodily harm.
This can be challenging for the prosecution in the context of a high-speed pursuit, as controlling a vehicle at high speeds is difficult for untrained drivers. Hence, an aggravated assault criminal defense lawyer can make a colorable argument that the contact was committed inadvertently. An experienced Miami criminal lawyer will be essential to any defense. If you or anyone you know has been accused of committing a serious offense, contact our office as quickly as possible at 954-791-3939.