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)
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 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.
Class B misdemeanor. If you are fleeing on foot, the criminal offense may be charged as a Class B misdemeanor, which carries up to half a year in jail and a maximum fine of $2,000.
State jail felony. If you are attempting to evade arrest by a motor vehicle or water vessel, you can face a state jail felony in Texas. The penalties include up to 2 years in jail and up to $10,000 in fines.
Third-degree felony. If you have prior convictions for evading arrest in a motor vehicle/water vessel, the charges will be elevated to a third-degree felony. The punishment includes a jail sentence not exceeding ten 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 had the intent 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/herself or you did not reasonably know that you were being pursued, you cannot be convicted of evading arrest.
Your arrest was lawful. In other words, the State must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that you actually committed something that warranted your arrest. Generally, a defendant must be arrested for an underlying offense to be charged with evading arrest. If you were not doing anything illegal and your arrest was not lawful in the first place, 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.
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:
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. However, 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.
The police failed to identify themselves. If the police officer who arrested you failed to properly identify himself/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.
Intoxication. 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.
Lack of knowledge. Your criminal defense attorney could successfully argue that you did not know that you were being pursued by a police officer. For example, you may be able to raise this defense if you did not realize that the officer was actually chasing you, not someone else.
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. Let us review your case to identify the most appropriate defense strategy in your situation—Call 254-501-4040 or contact us online for a free case review.