Depending upon the circumstances involved, evading arrest or detention in Texas can be a misdemeanor or a felony. Generally, these crimes relate to police pursuit, but it does not have to involve a lengthy chase to amount to a crime – all that is necessary is that the person in question intentionally flees from someone whom he or she knows to be an officer of the law who is lawfully trying to make an arrest.
Attempting to evade arrest or detention on foot is a first-degree misdemeanor while using a car or watercraft to do so is a felony that carries from 180 days to two years in prison and a fine of up to $10,000. Chases involving the police are often at high speeds, which endanger everyone on the roadway. If someone is injured or killed during the course of the chase, the charges and attendant penalties can go up considerably.
While attempting to evade arrest or detention is always a terrible idea, you, nonetheless, have defense options if so charged. In fact, there are a wide range of defenses that might apply:
- If the chase goes on for some distance, you can make the case that you did not realize you were being pursued – it can take a while to recognize that a police officer is attempting to pull you over.
- You can make the case that you needed a safe spot to pull over. If you are ever stopped by the police, it is imperative that you move over and stop as quickly as possible – but you must do so safely. Things like heavy traffic, congestion, pedestrians, bad weather, an inadequate shoulder, and more can make stopping safely difficult and more time-consuming.
- If the police officer is not in a marked police car or is otherwise unidentifiable as an officer of the law, you can make the case that you did not know you were being pursued by the police.
- If you can show that the police officer had no probable cause to pull you over in the first place, you could stop the case in its tracks.
A Recent Texas Case
According to the Dallas Morning News, a 35-year-old woman was recently arrested for leading Fort Worth officers on a 50-minute chase. The woman in question jumped into someone else's car that was left running outside a gas station (while the owner was inside paying for fuel) and took off. Nearly an hour later, the officers were able to pull her over. She was charged with evading arrest and motor vehicle theft.