When a police officer indicates for a driver to stop, the driver must pull over as soon as it is safe to do so. Failure to pull over when prompted to by a police officer can quickly lead to Evading Arrest or Detention in a Motor Vehicle charges.
Although this criminal charge is supposed to target people who are deliberately fleeing from law enforcement—often leading police officers into a car chase—some people fall afoul of this law unintentionally and for entirely innocent reasons. Maybe the weather conditions were bad, or the driver couldn’t find a safe place to pull over quickly enough.
Whatever the reason, to avoid a permanent criminal record and harsh penalties, it’s essential to fight against the charges with the help of an experienced lawyer.
- 1 Evading Arrest or Detention in a Motor Vehicle in the Texas Penal Code
- 2 Penalties for Evading Arrest or Detention in a Motor Vehicle in Texas
- 3 Related Offenses for Evading Arrest or Detention in a Vehicle
- 4 How Does the State of Texas Prove the Charge of Evading Arrest in a Motor Vehicle?
- 5 Defending an Evading Arrest or Detention in a Motor Vehicle (W/Veh) Charge in Texas
- 6 The Best Strategy if Charged with Evading Arrest in a Motor Vehicle (W/Veh) in Texas
Evading Arrest or Detention in a Motor Vehicle in the Texas Penal Code
According to Texas Penal Code § 38.04, it is considered an offense if a person “intentionally flees from a person he knows is a peace officer or federal special investigator attempting lawfully to arrest or detain him.”
Note that you don’t need to be in a vehicle to be committing this offense. If you commit this crime on foot, you’ll be charged with a class A misdemeanor. If you evade arrest or detention while you’re in a vehicle, you will be charged with a state jail felony, or worse depending on whether there are aggravating factors to consider.
Penalties for Evading Arrest or Detention in a Motor Vehicle in Texas
If you commit evading arrest or detention on foot, you will be charged with a class A misdemeanor. The penalties for a class A misdemeanor are as follows:
- A fine of up to $4,000
- Up to one year in jail
Evading arrest or detention while in a motor vehicle is classified as a state jail felony. Penalties for a state jail felony include:
- Between 180 days and 2 years in jail
- A fine of up to $10,000
If a third party is injured during the defendant’s attempt at evading arrest while in a motor vehicle, or if the defendant has a previous Evading Arrest conviction, then the crime is classified as a third-degree felony.
Penalties for third-degree felonies include:
- Between 2 years and 10 years in jail
- A fine of up to $10,000
If a third party suffers death as a result of the defendant evading arrest in a motor vehicle, the crime is classified as a second-degree felony. Penalties for a second-degree felony include:
- Between 2 and 20 years in jail
- Up to $10,000 in fines
Be it a misdemeanor or a felony, a conviction will also have collateral consequences that will negatively impact a person’s life. A criminal record will make it more difficult to obtain a loan, find employment, secure accommodation, and more.
Related Offenses for Evading Arrest or Detention in a Vehicle
The two other offenses that are closely related to and often accompany Evading Arrest charges are:
- Resisting Arrest
- Hindering Apprehension or Prosecution
Resisting arrest occurs when a person uses force to try to stop themselves or another person from being lawfully detained or put under arrest. If you do not stop your vehicle as soon as possible when prompted by a police officer, then use force to try to avoid being placed under arrest, you can face charges for both Evading Arrest in a Vehicle and Resisting Arrest.
Hindering apprehension or prosecution, also known as “Hindering Arrest”, occurs when a person deliberately helps another person to get away with a crime or acts in a way as to help them avoid prosecution.
For example, if you do not stop your vehicle when prompted to do so by the police, then either hide evidence of a crime or hide another suspect, you can be charged with both Evading Arrest in a Vehicle and Hindering Apprehension or Prosecution.
How Does the State of Texas Prove the Charge of Evading Arrest in a Motor Vehicle?
For a successful conviction, the State must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that you are guilty of evading arrest. For this, the State must prove two things:
- You intended to evade getting arrested.
- You were committing or had committed an offense that could have resulted in a lawful arrest.
Intent to Evade
The State must prove that you intentionally tried to evade the police. Noticing the sirens late or not finding a safe place to pull over fast enough are not sufficient reasons for charging you with evading arrest.
Prosecutors will need to prove that:
- You were acting with intent;
- You were fleeing the police;
- You were aware of the fact a police officer was chasing you.
Arrest Was Lawful
Before you can be convicted of evading arrest, the prosecution must prove that the police officers were attempting to lawfully detain or arrest you at the time.
For an arrest to be deemed lawful, an officer must have:
- Observed a crime take place;
- Probable cause to suspect you of an offense;
- Found you in suspicious circumstances that reasonably show that you have been or are about to be involved in a crime;
- An arrest warrant.
Defending an Evading Arrest or Detention in a Motor Vehicle (W/Veh) Charge in Texas
If you’ve been charged with Evading Arrest, it’s essential that you contact an experienced criminal defense attorney immediately. The sooner you do, the sooner they can help you build a solid defense case.
An Experienced Lawyer Will Gather All the Facts
A skilled lawyer will seek to determine whether the State can prove that the arrest was lawful and whether the State can prove that you acted with intent. Some questions that your lawyer may want answers to include:
- What did the police do to attempt the traffic stop? Did they use a siren? Were they in a marked vehicle? Etc.
- How much distance was covered between the police requesting a stop to when the driver pulled over, and how long did that take?
- How much time and distance was covered between the driver noticing the police, and pulling over?
- Did the police have probable cause (or reasonable suspicion) before they attempted to make the stop?
- Were there any witnesses present?
- Are there video or audio recordings of the event taking place?
- Was there a lot of traffic when the traffic stop was requested? What were the road and weather conditions like? Were there safe opportunities for the driver to pull over?
- What speed did the police have to maintain for a pursuit—if there was one? What speed was the driver traveling at?
Competent Argumentation of the Defense
By gathering all of the facts, an experienced lawyer can then present competent arguments for the defense. Any errors made by the police could help to get either a plea bargain or even a dismissal of the case.
For example, if the questioning revealed that the police did not do enough to identify their presence, it may be reasonable to believe that the driver simply did not notice them. Evidence to show the distance covered between the driver noticing police presence and pulling over may help to corroborate this.
As another example, audio and video recordings may reveal that the police did not issue a proper Miranda warning upon arrest. If they did not, any evidence gathered during the arrest may be thrown out.
The Best Strategy if Charged with Evading Arrest in a Motor Vehicle (W/Veh) in Texas
If you have been charged with Evading Arrest in Texas, get in touch with a trustworthy criminal defense attorney immediately.
Not all lawyers have experience in criminal defense or traffic offenses. At Michael & Associates, we have over a decade of experience in criminal defense. We know how important choosing the right lawyer is. An inexperienced lawyer could end up costing you more money, and years of jail time.
That’s why we offer a free case review. Get in touch today, and let’s start building your defense case together.