Updated on August 23, 2022
Being pursued by the police is a frightening and stressful experience. Many people panic when they see a law enforcement officer or police car chasing them, which is why they may choose to run or speed away to avoid arrest.
However, fleeing from the police is a crime in Texas. The crime is known as “evading arrest.” You can be charged with evading arrest when you have the intent to run or drive away from a police officer attempting to lawfully arrest or detain you. (Click here to read more on the dos and don'ts of detainment.)
Evading arrest does not have to involve a lengthy chase to amount to a crime—all that is necessary is that someone intentionally flees from a person whom he or she knows to be an officer of the law who is lawfully trying to make an arrest.
A conviction of evading arrest carries serious punishment and consequences. That is why it is advisable to contact a Round Rock criminal defense attorney to help you avoid a conviction and dismiss the charges.
What Are the Penalties for Evading Arrest in Texas?
In Texas, an individual can face evading arrest charges when they intentionally run away or otherwise flee from a police officer to avoid being arrested. However, you must reasonably know that the person chasing you is a police officer who is attempting to lawfully arrest you to be charged with evading arrest.
The penalties for evading arrest depend on whether you are fleeing on foot or by car and whether the circumstances of your arrest qualify for enhanced punishment.
If you are fleeing on foot, the criminal offense may be charged as a Class A misdemeanor, which carries up to 180 days in jail and a maximum fine of $2,000. Attempting to evade arrest or detention on foot is a first-degree misdemeanor.
If you are attempting to evade arrest in a motor vehicle or water vessel, you can face a state jail felony in Texas. The penalties include from 180 days to 2 years in jail and up to $10,000 in fines.
If you have prior convictions for evading arrest in a motor vehicle or water vessel, the charges will be elevated to a third-degree felony. The punishment includes a jail sentence not exceeding 10 years and a maximum fine of $10,000.
You may face harsher penalties if other people are harmed during your attempt to evade arrest. You can face third-degree felony charges if you cause serious bodily injury due to your attempts to flee from a police officer.
What Are the Elements of an Evading Arrest Conviction in Texas?
Just because you were charged with evading arrest in Texas does not necessarily mean that you will be convicted. The State must establish certain elements in order to convict you of evading arrest.
In order to be convicted of evading arrest in Texas, the State has a burden to demonstrate proof of your guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. The State must prove the following elements to convict you of evading arrest:
You Intended to Evade the Arrest
The State must be able to prove that you actually intended to flee the police officer to evade arrest. In other words, if the officer failed to properly identify himself or herself or if you did not reasonably know that you were being pursued, you cannot be convicted of evading arrest.
Your Arrest Was Lawful
The State must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that you actually committed a crime that warranted your arrest. Generally, a defendant must be arrested for an underlying offense to be charged with evading arrest. If you weren’t doing anything illegal, your arrest was not lawful and you cannot be convicted of evading arrest.
It is advisable to be represented by a skilled criminal defense attorney if you were charged with evading arrest in Texas. Your lawyer will help you understand the nature of the charges and prepare a strong defense strategy to challenge the evidence against you. To get started, contact a Round Rock criminal defense attorney today.
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.
What Are the Potential Defenses to Evading Arrest Charges in Texas?
If you are facing evading arrest charges, there are several potential defense strategies that may help you avoid a conviction on your criminal record. You should consult with a criminal defense attorney to review your specific case and determine the most appropriate defense in your situation.
Potential defenses to evading arrest charges in Texas include the following:
Lack of Intent
As mentioned earlier, one of the elements that the State must prove to convict you of evading arrest is that you had the intent to run or drive away from the police. If the State does not have sufficient evidence to prove that you intended to evade arrest, your attorney will raise the “lack of intent” defense.
For example, if you drove off without even noticing that the police were pursuing you, the necessary element of intent will likely be absent. In other words, had you known—you would have stopped.
Lack of Police Identification
If the police officer who arrested you failed to properly identify himself or herself, was not wearing a uniform, or was driving in an unmarked police vehicle, you may not be convicted of evading arrest because you could not have reasonably known that a police officer was chasing you.
While admitting that you were intoxicated at the time of the arrest may not seem like the best defense strategy, it can be a viable defense to argue that your level of intoxication made you unable to form an intent to commit a crime.
While this strategy can lead to a DWI charge (if you were driving) or to a public intoxication charge (if you were on foot), it might be a small price to pay to avoid an evading arrest conviction.
Inability to Surrender to Arrest
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 any of these conditions apply, you can use them in your defense.
Lack of Probable Cause
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.
If you are facing a charge of evading arrest, bringing your strongest defense is naturally paramount. Contact a skilled criminal lawyer to identify the best defense to evading arrest charges in your specific case.
Discuss Your Case with a Round Rock Criminal Defense Attorney
At The Law Office of Brett H. Pritchard, we understand that everyone can make mistakes. We believe that you do not deserve criminal penalties for a mistake. That’s why we are prepared to help you if you are facing evading arrest charges.