You are speeding down the road when a police car approaches and turns on the lights and sirens. Instead of pulling over, you keep on speeding until you reach your destination.
In another situation, you are shoplifting when the store’s alarm goes off. Panicked, you run from the police officers who are in pursuit.
The thought of being pursued by police and possibly arrested can cause us to instantly panic. Our bodies tend to experience a fight or flight reaction. Instead of fighting with the police officer and making things worse, though, we tend to go on flight and run—either on foot or in a motor vehicle.
In both of these situations, though, you are breaking the law. When you are instructed by a police officer to stop and/or pull over, the best response is to comply with the request and communicate with the officer. When you continue to flee the scene, this is called evading arrest and can result in felony charges as well as fines and jail time.
What is Evading Arrest?
According to Texas Penal Code § 38.04, you can be charged with evading arrest if you intentionally flee from a police officer who is trying to detain or arrest you. “Intentionally” is defined as having a conscious desire to engage in the action of fleeing. No physical force is required for you to be charged with evading arrest.
However, in order to be charged with evading arrest, the prosecutor must prove all four of the following elements:
- You acted in an intentional manner to flee the officer.
- You physically fled the scene, either on foot or in a vehicle.
- You knew that you were fleeing from a police officer.
- The officer was trying to arrest or detain you for breaking the law.
Penalties for Evading Arrest
The penalties for evading arrest can range widely, depending on how the evasion occurred and your criminal history. If you are evading arrest on foot, then you could be charged with a Class A misdemeanor, which can mean a fine of up to $4,000 and one year in jail.
You could be convicted of a state jail felony if you have a previous conviction of evading arrest or used a vehicle to flee from a police officer. Maximum punishment is two years in jail and a $10,000 fine.
The criminal charges could be elevated to a third-degree felony if someone suffered bodily injury while you were evading arrest in a vehicle. Maximum punishment is 10 years in jail and a $10,000 fine.
You could face a second-degree felony if someone suffered death while you were evading arrest in a vehicle. Maximum punishment is 20 years in jail and a $10,000 fine.
Possible Defenses for Evading Arrest in Texas
If you are facing charges for evading arrest, it’s a good idea to have a criminal defense lawyer help you avoid a conviction. There are several possible defenses that can be used. They include:
- The arrest was unlawful. The police officer did not probable cause to arrest you or did not give a reason why he was trying to stop you.
- False allegations. If the police officer mistook you for someone else or tried to charge you with evading arrest simply out of spite or revenge, this could be a valid defense.
- Self-defense. If a police officer suddenly holds you down and starts beating on you for no reason, human nature tells you to break free and run. If you were running to avoid further injury, then this may be a solid defense.
- You didn’t know the person was a police officer. If someone driving an unmarked car or wearing street clothes is trying to get you to stop, you may not think that person is a police officer. You know what a police car and a police uniform looks like, so when someone that looks like an ordinary person is running after you, you may think it’s a criminal. Therefore, if the police officer did not properly identify himself or herself, then you have a valid claim because one of the elements of evading arrest is that you knew you were fleeing from a police officer.
- Necessity. If your reason for evading was critical to protect your life or save the life of another it may be a legal defense to evading
Work with an Experienced Collin County Criminal Defense Lawyer
If you have been charged with evading arrest in Texas, you need to give your case a fighting chance. An experienced criminal defense lawyer can evaluate your situation and help provide the best defenses possible. Contact our team at Rosenthal & Wadas, PLLC today to set up your free confidential consultation in our office. We have helped many clients reduce their charges and penalties and we may be able to help you as well.
Reference: Lipcon & Lipcon.