Is It Actually A Crime To Evade A Police Officer?
When questioned or detained by a police officer, your best option is usually to say as little as possible while still complying with the officer’s instructions. One thing you should never do is run away. Indeed, the mere act of “evading arrest or detention” is itself a criminal offense. In some cases, you might face a felony conviction and multiple years in prison for running away, even if you are never charged with any other crime.
Texas Man Receives Four Years in Prison After Trying to Avoid Park Curfew Violation
A recent decision from the Texas Tenth District Court of Appeals, Perez v. State, provides a cautionary tale. In this case, the defendant was sitting in the driver’s seat of a parked car. The car was parked after midnight inside of a public park that was closed for the evening. A local police officer, observing this violation of the park’s curfew, approached the defendant’s vehicle and “motioned the occupants to roll the window down.”
The defendant’s response was to lock his doors and back out of the parking lot. The defendant managed to sideswipe the officer’s patrol car–and nearly hit the officer himself–before making it out of the parking lot. The defendant was later arrested and charged with third-degree felony evading arrest.
A jury found the defendant guilty. The defendant subsequently received a four-year prison sentence. On appeal to the Tenth District, the defendant challenged the sufficiency of the evidence against him. The appellate court rejected this argument and upheld the conviction and sentence.
As the Tenth District explained in its opinion, the prosecution had to prove at trial that the defendant knew the officer was “trying to arrest or detain” him. That is an essential element of the crime of evading arrest or detention. Here, the Court noted the defendant did not dispute that he knew that a police officer approached his vehicle. The only question was whether the evidence supported the jury’s conclusion that the defendant knew the officer “was trying to arrest or detain him.”
The jury heard the officer testify that the defendant locked his doors and put his vehicle into reverse when the officer approached and motioned to roll down the windows. The Tenth District said this testimony was sufficient, in and of itself, for the jury to find “beyond a reasonable doubt” that this was an attempt to detain the defendant. The Court further rejected the defendant’s claim he was unaware of his violation of the park curfew. Again, testimony at trial established that there were multiple signs posted in the park displaying its hours. This created enough “reasonable suspicion” to justify the officer’s attempted detention of the defendant.
Contact Pearland Criminal Defense Lawyer Keith B. French Today
It is understandable that someone’s first reaction when approached by a police officer is to flee. But as the case above demonstrates, running away can often prove more costly than simply asserting your right to remain silent and to consult with a lawyer. If you have been charged with an offense and need advice or representation from an experienced Pearland criminal defense attorney, contact Keith B. French, Law, PLLC, today to schedule a free consultation.