If you have wrongfully or illegally been targeted by law enforcement and asked to participate in an investigation, the worst thing you could do is run from the police. If the police officers have decided to arrest or detain you and you have done nothing wrong, do not resist their efforts and do not attempt to run or drive away in your vehicle.
Making the decision to run can result in a chase on foot or by vehicle, creating an increased risk of death or serious bodily injury to yourself, the police officers, or the public. It is because of this risk to the public and police officers that the Texas Legislature has labeled Evading Arrest a serious crime that could require you to face serious criminal consequences ranging from misdemeanor probation to 20 years in a Texas prison.
How Does Texas Law Define the Crime of Evading Arrest?
According to Texas Penal Code, Section 38.04 Evading Arrest or Detention, the State of Texas through the Tarrant County District Attorney’s Office will be required to prove the following elements in order to determine someone guilty of evading arrest beyond a reasonable doubt:
“A person commits the offense of Evading Arrest if he intentionally flees from a person he knows is a peace officer attempting lawfully to arrest or detain him.”
If a police officer is attempting to execute a valid search warrant upon your residence, attempting to avoid the enforcement of the warrant could lead to you being arrested for evading arrest or detention. Additionally, a police officer establishing probable cause that you might have been involved in criminal activity and attempting to detain you requires you to comply with his detention until the police officer determines whether a crime has occurred.
Texas law has imposed a duty on every Texas resident to submit to the authority of a police officer when that officer is attempting to lawful arrest or detain a citizen for an investigation. Failing to comply with the police officer’s request to detain or arrest you could result in additional criminal charges that could make it more difficult to resolve your legal situation
What is the Punishment in Texas for an Evading Arrest Conviction?
In order to determine the possible criminal consequences of an evading arrest conviction, it must first be determined whether a vehicle was used during the crime and whether the citizen has a prior criminal record.
Although it is important to consult an experienced evading arrest lawyer to determine your specific case facts, the following is a list of punishments provided under Texas law for the crime of Evading Arrest:
- Class A Misdemeanor (punishable by a term in the Tarrant County jail of not more than 1 year and up to a $4,000 fine) if the evading arrest did not involve the use of a motor vehicle and the citizen has not been previously convicted of evading arrest.
- State Jail Felony (punishable by a term in a State Jail Facility of not more than 2 years but not less than 180 days) if the citizen has been previously convicted of evading arrest.
- Third Degree Felony (punishable by a term in prison of not more than 10 years but not less than 2 years) if a vehicle was used by the citizen during the evading arrest or someone suffers serious bodily injury during the commission of the crime.
- Second Degree Felony (punishable by a term in prison of not more than 20 years but not less than 2 years) if someone is killed during an evading arrest attempt.
Aggressively Defending Your Evading Arrest Charge
If you are being prosecuted by the Tarrant County District Attorney’s Office for a felony or misdemeanor charge of Evading Arrest, it is important to find an aggressive criminal defense attorney experienced in handling evading arrest cases in the courts of Tarrant County, Texas.
Every prospective client that contacts The Hampton Law Firm with an evading arrest charge has three goals in mind when hiring a criminal attorney:
- Stay out of jail – nobody wants to receive a jail or prison sentence for an evading arrest charge. More than anything else, the number one goal of The Hampton Law Firm is to ensure that you maintain your freedom and avoid incarceration.
- Avoid an evading arrest conviction – being convicted of felony or misdemeanor evading arrest can cause permanent harm to your future. Most employers will immediately reject an applicant that has a felony or criminal record. At The Hampton Law Firm, we understand your financial future for your family is of the utmost importance and we fight tirelessly for our clients to help avoid a conviction.
- Get the evading arrest and charge removed from their criminal record – every client that contacts our law firm has it as a top priority to have their evading arrest cleared from their criminal record. In order to achieve this result, your criminal attorney must resolve the case in a manner that allows you eligibility for either an expunction or non-disclosure. It is critical that your criminal lawyer has the experience and knowledge regarding how expunctions and non-disclosures work under Texas law. At The Hampton Law Firm, we help citizens in Fort Worth and Tarrant County, Texas get their criminal records expunged and non-disclosed on a weekly basis.
The best evading arrest attorneys in Fort Worth, Texas know that you must get access to the State’s evidence, review everything, and formulate a legal defense strategy based upon weaknesses with the case for the State of Texas. The only way this can happen is if your criminal attorney shares the evidence with you and obtains your input. At The Hampton Law Firm, we commit to showing you all the evidence and obtaining your input so that we can formulate a customized legal defense to improve your chances of getting your evading arrest charge dismissed.
Defenses to Evading Arrest Charges that Might Get Your Case Dismissed or Dropped
Was The Arrest Lawful?
A critical issue that must be explored in all evading arrest cases is the element of whether the arrest or detention was lawful. If the police officer that made the arrest or detention did so without a valid warrant or made the decision based upon a lack of reasonable suspicion, your evading arrest charges may be dropped or thrown out by the judge. It is critical to your defense that an experienced criminal defense attorney review the specific facts of your case and decide if this defense is available for your evading arrest case.
Can The State Of Texas Prove Criminal Intent?
It is critical to remember that the State of Texas must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that you intentionally or knowingly fled from a person you knew to be a police officer attempting to lawful arrest or detain you. What if you did not know the person detaining you was a police officer? What if you did not know the police officer was trying to detain or arrest you?
For example: we have represented clients that were approached by an undercover or plain clothes police officer at a bar or concert and asked to leave the bar. The officer reaches over to the client, and they pull away and walk away from them. The officer then jumps on them and pulls them down to the ground and proceeds to arrest them for evading arrest and detention. Did the client know this person was a police officer? What if there was loud music playing at the bar? What if the client could hear what the officer was saying and the officer was wearing plain clothes? Wouldn’t it be just as reasonable to believe that the client thought this police officer was a bar patron? Of course! In this fact scenario, the prosecutor would be required to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the client was intentionally evading someone he KNEW was a police officer. Failure to prove the element of criminal intent will require a verdict of not guilty!
For example: another example of the defense of lack of criminal intent is the situation where someone is driving down the road and something is impeding their view behind them. They are carrying something in their truck, or the back seat is loaded with boxes or other items. A police officer believes this person is speeding and begins to follow them and turns on their lights. Unfortunately, our client was driving with techno music blaring in the car and could not see the officer behind him, so he continued to drive for a few miles before he saw the lights reflecting off someone else’s window. The police officer pulls him over, pulls out his gun, approaches the window and pulls him out of the car and charges him with evading arrest with a vehicle. Can the prosecutor prove the element of criminal intent? Unlikely! Here, there is more evidence establishing that the client had no idea they were being followed by a police officer and ample evidence to establish he had no intention of evading the officer.
In this situation we examined, you have a unique opportunity to dispose of your case early in the process. Because evading arrest with a vehicle is a third-degree felony, it must be presented to a grand jury. In fact, every felony in Texas must be presented to a grand jury. A grand jury acts as a filtering process regarding felony cases. Normally, a prosecutor will make a presentation to a grand jury with little to no input from the defense. Unfortunately, many criminal defense lawyers do not take the time and effort required to analyze felony evading arrest cases and prepare a persuasive evidence packet to be presented to a Tarrant County grand jury.
At The Hampton Law Firm, we prioritize the examination of felony evading arrest cases to determine the weaknesses of the case and formulate a packet of evidence to present to a grand jury. A grand jury is a panel of non-lawyers that will many times make decisions based upon what they believe is fair. It is critical that your criminal defense attorney present a packet of evidence that shows the evidence does not support your felony charge.
The Hampton Law Firm is a team of former prosecutors with over 80 years of criminal law experience and over five hundred criminal jury trials in the courts of Tarrant County, Texas. We are passionate attorneys experienced with evading arrest and other felony and misdemeanor charges. If you choose to hire The Hampton Law Firm for your criminal defense team, we will aggressively defend you against the evading arrest charge and thoroughly investigate your case to determine if the police officers violated your Constitutional rights during the detention and/or arrest.
Finally, if your friend or loved one has been arrested for evading arrest in the Fort Worth or Tarrant County area, you need to know what steps to take to secure their freedom. First, you need to contact a bondsman or attorney that provides bonding services to secure their release. At The Hampton Law Firm, we provide surety through Tarrant County. Normally, you are required to pay a bondsman a certain amount of money (10% – 25% of the bond amount) to secure a loved one’s release. However, if you work with a Fort Worth criminal lawyer that is approved for posting bonds through Tarrant County, you do not have to pay twice for the same service. In other words, The Hampton Law Firm includes the bonding service as part of the legal fee. This saves you money, while also simplifying the process of having your criminal lawyer providing bother services.
Schedule a Free Case Evaluation with Our Defense Attorneys
Call The Hampton Law Firm now for a free consultation and an opportunity to speak to me about the facts of your case and the options you have under Texas law. Call Jeff Hampton at The Hampton Law Firm at 817-826-9905.
Contact the Hampton Law Firm now to schedule a free consultation to determine your rights and legal options.