TX Evading Arrest Attorneys
When facing the stress of an evading arrest charge, the future can look bleak. Know that our criminal defense lawyers are here to provide you with a robust defense tailored to your specific needs. Your future should never be jeopardized by legal complications. We urge you to call us at (512) 991-0576 or click online to initiate an immediate consultation.
Evading arrest or detention charges in Texas are serious offenses, and understanding the legal implications can be complex. As someone who might be charged with a crime in Texas, it's crucial to get a grasp of the state-specific laws that could impact your case. This text aims to explain Texas Penal Code Section 38.04, which deals with the act of evading arrest or detention.
What Constitutes Evading Arrest Or Detention?
According to Texas Penal Code Section 38.04(a), an individual wrongfully evades arrest or detention if they flee intentionally from someone who they know to be a member of law enforcement and who is attempting to detain or arrest them and is doing so lawfully. The key elements here are the intentional act of fleeing and the knowledge that the person from whom you are fleeing is a law enforcement officer attempting a lawful arrest or detention.
Classifications And Penalties
Class A Misdemeanor
The basic charge of evading arrest or detention is categorized as a Class A misdemeanor. If convicted, this could result in up to one year in jail, a fine of up to $4,000, or both.
State Jail Felony
The offense elevates to a state jail felony under two circumstances:
- If you have been previously convicted under this law.
- If you use a watercraft or a motor vehicle while fleeing and have not been previously convicted for evading arrest.
State jail felonies can lead to a jail term ranging from 180 days-2 years, along with a fine not exceeding $10,000.
Felony Of The Third Degree
It becomes a felony of the third degree if:
- You use a watercraft or a motor vehicle while fleeing and have been previously convicted under this law.
- Someone else suffers serious bodily injury due to the law enforcement officer’s attempt to apprehend you.
Conviction for a third-degree felony can result in a prison term of 2-10 years and a fine up to $10,000.
Felony Of The Second Degree
The most severe classification is a felony of the second degree, which applies if:
- Another person dies as a direct result of the officer's attempt to apprehend you while you are fleeing.
- Someone suffers serious bodily injury due to your use of a tire deflation device while fleeing.
A second-degree felony can result in a prison term ranging from 2-20 years and a fine up to $10,000.
Section 38.04(d) of the Texas Penal Code allows for a person to be prosecuted under both this section and another applicable law, which means that evading arrest charges could accompany other charges like resisting arrest or assault.
Defenses To Evading Arrest Or Detention Charges In Texas
Lack Of Intent
One of the central elements of an evading arrest or detention charge under Texas law is the intent to flee. To secure a conviction, the prosecution must prove that you intentionally fled from a person you knew was a member of law enforcement. If you can demonstrate that you had no intent to evade the officer—perhaps you were unaware of their presence, or you had a legitimate reason for your actions—then this could serve as a strong defense.
Mistaken Identity Or False Accusation
In some cases, the police might mistakenly identify you as the person who evaded arrest. If you can prove that you were not the individual who committed the offense, this could lead to the charges being dropped. Similarly, false accusations—whether due to misunderstandings, personal vendettas, or otherwise—could also serve as a defense if you can disprove the allegations against you.
Lack Of Knowledge
According to Section 38.04(a), the act of evasion must be committed when someone that the alleged offender knows is a member of law enforcement is attempting to arrest or otherwise detain them. Therefore, if you were not aware that the person from whom you were fleeing was a member of law enforcement, this lack of knowledge could serve as a defense.
Unlawful Arrest Or Detention
The statute specifies that the officer must be “attempting lawfully to arrest or detain” you. If you can demonstrate that the attempted arrest or detention was unlawful to begin with, this may undermine the prosecution's case. However, it's worth noting that the standards for what constitutes an “unlawful arrest” can be complex and may require informed legal analysis.
No Serious Bodily Injury Or Death Occurred
The statute details that the offense can escalate to a felony of the third degree if another person suffers serious bodily injury, or a felony of the second degree if another person dies, as a direct result of the officer’s attempt to apprehend you. If no such injury or death occurred, this fact could serve as a defense against facing the more severe felony charges.
No Use Of Vehicle, Watercraft, Or Tire Deflation Device
If the prosecution claims that you used a vehicle, watercraft, or tire deflation device while evading, disproving this could serve as a defense against the charge being elevated to a felony level. For instance, if it can be proven that you were on foot the entire time, you would not meet the criteria for the more severe charges specified in the statute.
Frequently Asked Questions About Evading Arrest Or Detention In Texas
Being charged with evading arrest or detention in Texas can bring up a lot of questions. Understanding Texas Penal Code Section 38.04 is crucial for anyone who might find themselves facing such charges. Here are some frequently asked questions and their answers to help you navigate this complicated legal issue.
What Is The Basic Definition Of Evading Arrest In Texas?
Evading arrest or detention in Texas occurs when a person flees intentionally from someone they know is serving as a member of law enforcement and who is attempting to detain or arrest them and is doing so lawfully.
What Are The Penalties For Evading Arrest?
- Class A Misdemeanor: Up to one year in jail and/or a fine of up to $4,000.
- State Jail Felony: 180 days-2 years in a state jail and a fine up to $10,000.
- Third-Degree Felony: 2-10 years in prison and a fine up to $10,000.
- Second-Degree Felony: 2-20 years in prison and a fine up to $10,000.
Can I Be Charged If I Didn't Know I Was Evading A Police Officer?
No, the law specifies that you must knowingly flee from someone you are aware is a member of law enforcement. If you didn’t know that the person was an officer, this could serve as a defense.
What If I Was Wrongly Accused?
Mistaken identity or false accusations can happen. In such cases, gathering evidence that proves you were not the one who evaded arrest can lead to the charges being dropped. An experienced defense attorney can help you build a strong case.
Can I Be Charged For Evading Arrest Even If The Arrest Was Unlawful?
The statute states that the person must be “attempting lawfully to arrest or detain” you. If the attempted arrest or detention was unlawful, this could serve as a defense. However, the criteria for what is considered “unlawful” can be complicated.
What If I Was On Foot The Whole Time?
If you were on foot, the basic charge would be a Class A misdemeanor unless you have a prior conviction for evading arrest. Using a vehicle or watercraft, or causing injury or death, elevates the charge to various degrees of felonies.
Does Evading Arrest Always Result In A Felony Charge?
No, evading arrest is initially categorized as a Class A misdemeanor. It only becomes a felony under specific circumstances, such as having a prior conviction for evading arrest, using a watercraft or a motor vehicle while fleeing, or causing serious bodily injury or death to someone else.
What Defenses Can I Use?
Several defenses can apply, including lack of intent, mistaken identity, lack of knowledge that you were evading an officer, or that the arrest or detention was unlawful. The defense strategy would depend on the specifics of your case.
Criminal Defense Attorneys Offer Personalized Guidance
Understanding the nuances of evading arrest or detention charges in Texas is essential for anyone who might be facing such a charge. Each case is unique. Therefore, if you find yourself in such a situation, consult an experienced Texas criminal defense attorney for personalized legal guidance.
Skilled Evading Arrest Lawyer For Your Criminal Case
The criminal justice system in TX is complex and can often feel overwhelmingly biased against you. Don't venture through this labyrinth alone. At Cofer & Connelly, PLLC, each criminal defense lawyer we employ benefits from decades of combined experience fighting for the rights and freedoms of our clients. We are committed to crafting a sound defense strategy tailored to your unique circumstances. Act now by calling (512) 991-0576 or visit us online to set up a consultation with a criminal defense lawyer.