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Houston Evading Arrest Misdemeanor Attorney
Evading Arrest Misdemeanor
A citizen evading the law for any reason is considered evading arrest. However, some charges are more severe than others. Evading arrest in a vehicle is a state jail felony. Charges are bumped to third and second degree felonies, depending on the situation, for having prior convictions before running or if a third party is injured as a result of the flee.
Most charges of evading arrest are the result of a citizen fleeing on foot. The reason for this is that most people charged with evading arrest don’t realize they were even breaking the law. Defendants are often near the scene of a crime and believe the police are looking to detain or question somebody else.
A mistake by itself isn’t a chargeable offense. Other factors need to be in play. Any situation in which the officer and the defendant were engaged in amicable conversation is simply that: conversation. A suspect can only be convicted if the court can prove that the defendant understood he was under arrest. If a college student flees from a party busted by the police and is caught, in Texas he will be charged with a misdemeanor.
Charges leveraged against defendants depend on intent, method of escape, prior convictions, and whether or not people were injured. In the example above, the fleeing college student would be charged with a Class A misdemeanor, the baseline charge for a first time offender evading arrest on foot. The punishment for a Class A misdemeanor is up to one year in county jail and up to a $4,000 fine.
Texas also charges individuals who refuse unlawful searches or interrogation. Prosecutors will often announce that the accused subjected to unlawful searches or questioning are free to leave at any time, but when individuals actually exercise this right, they can be arrested for evading arrest. If this has happened to you, contact a criminal defense attorney immediately.
Not only does the prosecution have to prove intent, but there are a number of other obstacles. The person who fled must be on suspicion of having committed a crime. The evasion must be willful and the defendant knew he was being chased by a police officer. An undercover cop who “ambushes” someone cannot charge the fleeing suspect with evading arrest. The prosecution must also prove the defendant actually fled and the impending arrest was lawful.
The defendant has a number of options, given the sheer number of elements the prosecution needs to prove. A defendant can maintain he didn’t realize he was being targeted by a police officer (and was focused on apprehending someone else) or that the evasion was due to other, external factors.
A final factor for resisting arrest lies in the definitions of arrest and detention. Arrest implies the suspect is not free to go. Detention is a brief stop and questioning by an officer or trooper, such as routine traffic stops. A defendant may also argue they assumed they were free to go and the officer was not clear about explaining why he approached.