Being pursued by a police officer – for whatever reason – is enough to activate many people’s fight-or-flight response. When forced to make an instinctual choice between the two, it might feel like “flight” is the proper option, especially when resisting arrest is another charge in itself. However, fleeing from arresting officers comes with its own charges as well, with separate and serious penalties.
Section 38.04 of the Texas Penal Code lays out the definition of evading arrest as: “A person commits an offense if he intentionally flees from a person he knows is a peace officer or federal special investigator attempting lawfully to arrest or detain him.” This differs from resisting arrest in that the person evading arrest does not use force against the arresting officer.
However, the penalties for evading arrest will differ depending on whether you evade arrest on foot or via a motor vehicle.
If you attempt to evade arrest while on foot, you will be charged with a Class A misdemeanor, which is punishable by up to one year in county jail and fines up to $10,000. However, this will be bumped up to a state jail felony if you have a prior conviction, or commit this crime while in a motor vehicle or watercraft. Depending on the situation, you could face third-degree felony charge – resulting in prison time and up to $10,000 in fines.
Aside from criminal penalties, evading arrest in a motor vehicle is also addressed under the Texas Transportation Code. Under Section 545.421, you can be charged with fleeing or attempting to elude a police officer if “the person operates a motor vehicle and willfully fails or refuses to bring the vehicle to a stop or flees, or attempts to elude, a pursuing police vehicle when given a visual or audible signal to bring the vehicle to a stop.”
You could be charged under both of these statutes. If you use a weapon or someone is injured while you are attempting to evade arrest, the penalties attached to the charges will be much more severe.
Defenses for evading arrest charges in Texas
Every criminal defense attorney worth their salt understands that an arrest doesn’t mean guilt, and it is their job to investigate the facts of the case. Questions around evading arrest charges, especially with motor vehicles, might include:
- Did the officer have probable cause to stop your vehicle?
- Did the officer use a siren, lights, or any other signals to notify you to pull over?
- Do you have any audio or video footage of the pursuit or stop? Do the police or anyone else?
- How much time lapsed between the time you noticed authorities to the time you pulled over? What was the reason for this lapse? (Road conditions, vehicle trouble, etc.)
- Were there any traffic conditions that prevented you from stopping promptly?
- Were you read your Miranda rights?
- What reason did the officer give you for the traffic stop?
Evading arrest can be added to a variety of other charges, and it is imperative to have experienced counsel on your side. The criminal defense attorneys at the Mary Beth Harrell Law Firm, we protect your rights and investigate every detail of your case. We can help. To set up a consultation, call us today at 254-680-4655 or visit our contact page. We proudly serve clients from our offices in Killeen and Copperas Cove.
I’ve dedicated my legal career to defending my clients. I demand all the evidence. I investigate all the facts, the so-called witnesses and even the police officers. I make it my business to know the law. Cases can be won or lost before you even set foot inside the courtroom.
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