Evading arrest is regularly charged in Texas. In the Houston area, several evading arrest cases are filed every day, typically alleging evading arrest by vehicle. The evading arrest statute requires that a person intentionally flee, but unfortunately many law enforcement officers will usually assume an intent to evade if a person does not stop immediately, regardless of the facts. Depending on whether it is alleged that a person tried to evade by foot or with a vehicle, or if other aggravating factors are present, evading arrest can be a misdemeanor or felony. However your case is charged, it is very important to speak with an experienced criminal defense lawyer right away if you are charged with evading arrest.
How is evading arrest charged in Texas?
Under Texas Penal Code 38.04, it is a crime to intentionally flee from a person known to be a peace officer or federal law enforcement officer attempting to make an arrest or a detention. Evading arrest is a Class “A” misdemeanor punishable by up to a year in jail and a $4000 fine. If it is alleged that you used a vehicle or watercraft to evade, or have been previously convicted of evading, evading arrest is charged as a State Jail Felony, punishable by 180 days to 2 years in State Jail and a $10,000 fine. If you have previously been convicted of evading with a vehicle or watercraft or someone is seriously injured as a direct result of an attempt by law enforcement to apprehend the fleeing individual, evading arrest is charged as a third-degree felony, punishable by 2-10 years and a $10,000 fine.
How can I get my case dismissed?
Evading arrest cases are very fact-specific, meaning that they depend on the facts and circumstances of your particular situation. As noted, law enforcement is quick to make assumptions that anyone who does not immediately stop was intending to flee, even if a motive to flee is absent and the failure to stop is brief. In a typical evading case, a criminal defense needs to obtain a police report and any videos that may exist, including body camera, dash camera. Many agencies, such as the Houston Police Department, now provide body cameras to all of their officers.
The most common defense is that a person did not intend to flee. To prove that there was no intent to flee in an evading arrest case, a criminal defense attorney will want to look closely at the evidence. Ceja Law Firm has obtained dismissals in evading arrest cases where we were able to show that a defendant had no reason – and therefore no intent – to flee. He was not in possession of anything illegal (such as drugs) and did not have any open warrants, or any other reason to want to evade the police.
Often, a defendant will not stop right away because an officer attempts to make a stop at an unsafe location, such as a freeway with no shoulder. A criminal defense attorney should be aware of what the location of the attempted stop was like and whether it was safe or practical to stop there. Under the law, there is no requirement that a defendant stop immediately and failure to stop immediately is not proof of an intent to evade. Similarly, sometimes a person is simply unaware that the police are trying to make a stop because they have loud music playing or have poor hearing.
The driving facts will also frequently reveal a person’s intent. If a person is truly attempting to evade the police, it can be expected (and even assumed) that he will speed in an attempt to outrun the police. The absence of driving facts showing an intent to evade is good proof that a person did not commit the offense of evading arrest.
Once your criminal defense attorney has developed your defense using evidence obtained from the District Attorney and his own investigation, he can decide whether to share his argument with the prosecutor or present it at trial. On occasion, a Grand Jury Packet might be a good option. The correct approach will depend on the facts of the case and what the prosecutor and judge are like. Hiring an experienced criminal defense attorney will help you maximize your chances of getting your case dismissed.
The goal in an evading arrest case is dismissal. Once your case is dismissed, you will be eligible for an expunction, which is the best possible result in a criminal case. An expunction results in the literal destruction of all the records of your evading arrest case and even allows you to deny the existence of the arrest in most instances. If you are charged with evading arrest anywhere in the Greater Houston area, attorney Jose Ceja is an excellent choice. He is a former prosecutor who regularly obtains excellent results in evading cases. Call today for a free consultation.