Evading arrest is frequently charged in Texas and the Houston area. You can be charged with evading arrest for attempting to flee from law enforcement either on foot, in a car, or even on a boat. Depending on how your evading arrest case is charged, you may be facing a misdemeanor or felony.
Unless you attempt to flee with a boat or car, evading arrest is typically charged as a Class “A” misdemeanor. If it is alleged that you used a boat or a car, then you are facing a State Jail Felony.
Evading arrest cases are frequently dismissed in the Greater Houston area for several reasons. One of the main reasons they are dismissed is when the prosecutors don’t think that the evidence proves that a person intended to flee from police. The evading arrest statute explicitly requires that a person “intentionally fee from a person he knows is a peace officer.”
How does a criminal defense attorney raise a lack of intent to flee? By looking closely at the facts. In most evading arrest cases, a criminal defense lawyer will need to obtain the police report and videos to try and show that a driver did not intend to flee.
First, a criminal defense lawyer should look at the driving facts. It goes without saying that a person attempting to flee the police will drive like a person attempting to flee the police. This means that a person will drive as fast and evasively as possible. In a surprising number of evading cases, the suspect doesn’t increase his speed after the police turn their lights on, or actually drives more slowly (as if looking for a safe place to stop). It is difficult to imagine that a person who fails to exhibit any driving behaviors consistent with fleeing the police would have an intent to flee.
A criminal defense attorney should also seek to understand if the suspect had a motive to flee. After all, why would anyone attempt to take the risk of fleeing from the police unless they had a reason to believe the consequences of being stopped by the police would be worse? If a suspect did not have an open warrant, contraband like drugs, or large amount of money, then it is unlikely that they would have a motive – or an intent – to flee the police.
Other important facts are whether the suspect has a medical condition (such as poor hearing) that made him unaware that a police officer was trying to stop him, or whether the officer attempted to stop him in an unsafe location, such as a freeway. Under the evading arrest statute, there is no requirement that a person stops immediately.
Once your criminal defense attorney has seen the evidence and crafted the best defense, then it will be a question of how to use it to get your evading arrest case dismissed. In many cases, an honest prosecutor can be trusted to do the right thing and dismiss the case if they believe the intent is lacking after being presented with the facts.
In some cases, the prosecutor will want the evidence to be presented as a part of a grand jury packet. In an evading case, a grand jury packet might contain a letter from a criminal defense attorney explaining the facts (especially what is discussed above), letters of character reference, and perhaps a polygraph examination. The goal is to get the grand jury to find no probable cause and “no bill” the case, which will typically lead to a dismissal.
If you do not have a reasonable prosecutor, and your criminal defense attorney does not believe that a grand jury packet would be successful, then your attorney may choose to not share your defense and present it at a jury trial, in the hopes of obtaining an acquittal in your evading arrest case.
Pre-trial interventions are rare in evading cases. Typically, either the District Attorney’s Office believes you had the intent to flee or not. If they don’t, hopefully, your case will be dismissed. If they do, then they are likely to treat an evading arrest case as an offense that is too serious to consider for pre-trial intervention.
The correct strategy will depend on the facts of your case, your prosecutor, and your judge. An experienced criminal defense attorney can help you maximize your chances of keeping an evading arrest off of your record. As in all criminal cases, the goal is to get the case dismissed or get a “not guilty” at trial, so you can get your records expunged and get an evading arrest charge completely wiped off of your record. If you are charged with evading arrest in the Houston area, attorney Jose Ceja is happy to offer you a free consultation to discuss your situation. Get in touch with our office today.