Defending Evading Arrest Charges in Houston Texas
While evading arrest is rarely a smart choice, the fact is people do desperate things when they feel “cornered.” Evading arrest is actually relatively uncommon due to the effort involved in doing so. Of course we have all seen the high-speed police chases on television—which rarely end well—but in many cases an individual accused of evading an arrest was genuinely unaware of the attempts being made to detain them. On a busy roadway, when a police officer turns on the flashing lights, no one can be 100% sure of who the actual target is and inattention or misunderstanding can enter the equation.
Other times, the suspect may be under the influence, coloring their judgment and making them do something impulsive which can add a separate charge or increase the penalties for the original crime. In any case, in order for a defendant to be convicted of Texas evading arrest charges, it must first be proven that deliberate intent existed. Unfortunately, proving this can sometimes be difficult, requiring the services of an experienced evading arrest lawyer in Texas.
Is Evading Arrest a Felony?
When a police officer interacts with the public, the private citizen has the legal right to walk away from the situation during a consensual encounter when there is no mal-intent behind that action and when the citizen has not been specifically informed by the officer of an imminent arrest. Texas Penal Code makes it a violation under Section 38.04 to intentionally flee from a law enforcement officer who is lawfully attempting to detain or arrest you. An evading arrest charge may be charged as a felony or as a misdemeanor, depending on the circumstances.
Generally speaking, if you use a motor vehicle in order to evade arrest you will be charged with a felony while if no motor vehicle was used, a class B misdemeanor charge is more likely. Because a high-speed chase can lead to traffic accidents which, in turn, can lead to serious injuries or fatalities, putting innocent people at risk will almost certainly increase the seriousness of your charges.
Consequences and Complications of Evading Arrest in Texas
If charged with a Class B misdemeanor, you may face up to 180 days in jail, a fine of $2,000, or both. If a motor vehicle was used in your arrest evasion and you have no priors, you could be charged with a state jail felony. If a vehicle was used and you have prior convictions for evading arrest, you could be charged with a third degree felony or if another person suffers harm directly related to attempts to apprehend you, then a third-degree felony will also be charged. Finally, if a fatality occurs as a result of your fleeing apprehension then you could be charged with a second degree felony.
What about Resisting Arrest in Texas?
Resisting arrest in Texas is very similar to evading arrest in that struggling against a police officer who is attempting to handcuff you could result in such charges. Fighting against an officer who is attempting to put you into a prison cell could also result in resisting arrest charges. Resisting arrest charges can be extremely subjective and may not take into consideration instances in which excessive force was used by police officer. If you are charged with resisting arrest, you could be facing Class A misdemeanor charges, carrying a fine of up to $4,000 and a year-long prison term. Should the resistance be accompanied with the use of a deadly weapon, the charges can be increased to a third degree felony, carrying a prison sentence of two to ten years and a fine of up to $10,000.
Was Your Evading Arrest Lawful?
Accusations of evading arrest can only stand if the attempt at arrest was lawful. It is unlikely that you would be charged with evading arrest as a solo charge and if that were the case, there would be reason to doubt the intent of the police officer. In other words, evading arrest or resisting arrest are generally supplemental charges tacked on to an original attempt to make an arrest on the part of law enforcement. Anything other than total compliance as a police officer attempts to arrest you could lead to charges of evading arrest—even something as minor as not immediately offering your hands to be handcuffed. For many, once restraints are placed around the wrists, the natural instinct is to struggle during the first few seconds—an action which could lead to charges of evading or resisting arrest.
The prosecutor must prove that you fled, and that you are the person who committed the crime, that you acted intentionally, that you were fully aware that the person you were fleeing from was a police officer or other law enforcement officer, that the officer was clearly attempting to detain you and that the attempted arrest or detention was legal. Your attorney may be able to request a dismissal if there is any question as to whether the officers were behaving appropriately and legally or were potentially acting outside their capacity. There have been cases of law enforcement personnel engaging in acts of discrimination or harassment; if this is true of your case, it is important that you speak to a highly experienced criminal defense attorney as soon as possible.
Building a Defense for Your Evading Arrest Charges
In order to get a conviction for evading arrest or resisting arrest in Houston, Texas or any other jurisdiction in Texas, the prosecutor must prove your evasion was one of willful behavior rather than inattention or a simple misunderstanding. Intent must also be proven—if it was never your intent to evade an arrest, then you cannot be held legally responsible for doing so. An intoxicated person may be able to have the charges of evading arrest dropped if their level of intoxication hindered their ability to make an intentional decision. Your Houston criminal defense attorney may also contend that there is simply not enough evidence to support charges of evading arrest; perhaps the officer was in an unmarked car or out of uniform, therefore you were unaware he or she was a police officer. If you were in a vehicle, then the question must be answered as to whether it was safe for you to pull over at the time officer turned on the lights of the police car.
Getting the Legal Help You Need Following Charges of Evading Arrest
Regardless of the charges against you, a conviction for evading or resisting arrest can have far-reaching consequences which affect both your liberty and your lifestyle. As with any criminal conviction, upon your release from jail or prison you could face probation, the inability to regain your former job or obtain a new one, the inability to possess a firearm, work with children, obtain a professional license or even obtain a student loan in order to return to college. As you can see, charges of evading or resisting arrest are serious and require the services of a highly skilled criminal defense attorney. A knowledgeable ‘evading arrest’ attorney in Texas such as those at the Sullo & Sullo Law Firm, will work hard to minimize the long-term effects of your charges. Our attorneys are committed to obtaining all the facts surrounding your case and exploring every single option with you in order to determine your best course of action. Call the Sullo & Sullo Law Firm today.