What To Do And What Not To Do When Getting Detained Or Arrested In Texas
Everybody wants to avoid a run-in with law enforcement. Sometimes, though, it is unavoidable and you find yourself being stopped while driving or in some other situation. These are stressful situations, and sometimes the frustration spills out. However, a person can face criminal charges due to actions or words used while interacting with law enforcement and they must act with this in mind.
Sometimes a misunderstanding, miscommunication, or mistake can lead to an escalation and even criminal charges for resisting arrest.
Resisting Arrest Charges in Texas
A charge of resisting arrest under the Texas Penal Code involves intentionally obstructing or preventing an officer from carrying out an arrest, a lawful search, or transportation of a person. Any use of force against an officer or other person during a lawful arrest or search can also subject somebody. Resisting arrest is typically a Class A misdemeanor in Texas, but can be upgraded to a third-degree felony charge if a deadly weapon is involved. Penalties – even for a misdemeanor can involve jail time, fines, and court costs. It can also leave a permanent mark on your criminal record that may cause problems in the future.
A similar offense to resisting arrest, within Chapter 38 of the Texas Penal Code, is failure to identify. This means intentionally refusing to give your name, address, date of birth, or other identifying information when requested by an officer during a lawful stop or arrest. Failure to identify is, at minimum, a Class C misdemeanor in Texas. Often this may be due to a simple miscommunication that gets blown out of proportion. Either way, it involves a criminal charge that can be an intimidating prospect for someone who thought they were being compliant.
How to Avoid Potential Issues During an Arrest or Traffic Stop
There are important things to keep in mind before anything happens, to potentially avoid any issues during a traffic stop or arrest. For example, the Texas Department of Public Safety recommends several tips if you are stopped while driving, including the following:
- Park your vehicle as far to the right of the road as possible, and bring your car to a complete stop;
- Put the vehicle in park and turning the engine off;
- If at night, turn your interior dome light on to improve lighting;
- Remain in the car, lower your window, and keep both hands visible on the steering wheel;
- Before reaching into a glove box or compartment for your ID or registration, inform the officer of what you are intending to retrieve;
- Advise any passengers to remain calm and compliant with the officer’s instructions as well;
- Do not exit the vehicle unless asked to do so.
If you believe that it is unsafe for you to pull over immediately, or the officer is in an unmarked vehicle and you want to confirm they are legitimate, slow down and call 911 to verify the location and the officer’s identity. Continuing to drive without any other action could potentially subject you to charges of resisting arrest.
Other steps you can take, whether during a traffic stop or an interaction in any other place, include:
- Remain calm. This is easier said than done, of course. In a high-stress situation like a traffic stop or detainment, the body’s stress response will kick in and can cause someone to act or behave irrationally at times. It is important to remember to relax as much as possible and focus on what needs to be done. Be courteous and respectful, and try to convey a sense of cooperation.
- Do not argue. It is tempting – especially when you believe you are in the right – to try arguing your point of view to any police officers involved. However, this can usually make the situation worse. Remember that law enforcement officers are simply trying to do their job. They are not judges, jurors, or attorneys. Trying to argue facts and legal rights will not accomplish anything at this stage of proceedings – the officer’s job is simply to collect information, issue citations, or make arrests based on the situation.
- Do not use any type of physical force or flee the situation. Even if you believe a mistake is being made and you are (rightfully) upset, now is not the time to act out. Raising your hands or acting in any threatening manner – even if you don’t physically touch an officer – can escalate the situation and even put your life at risk. Fleeing or running away will also make the situation worse. Your words and actions during a police stop usually end up within the police report itself, which prosecutors can then use to file additional charges against you as they see fit.
- Don’t forget your legal rights. If you are being placed under arrest (or feel you cannot leave the situation) you have Miranda Rights and a right to remain silent, and consult with an attorney. Say what you need to say to provide basic information, but this is not the time to overshare and say everything on your mind. Statements that seem harmless to you can be viewed as incriminating in a court of law. When in doubt, stay silent and wait until you’ve had a chance to discuss your situation with an experienced Texas criminal defense attorney.
Consult a Texas Criminal Defense Attorney to Review Your Rights and Legal Options Following an Arrest or Traffic Stop
Preparation can be the best defense, especially when it comes to interactions with law enforcement. Even after you’ve been stopped or arrested, you still have options and crucial legal rights. Our Pearland criminal lawyers at Keith B. French Law will review your case from start to finish and defend your rights accordingly. Contact us today for help.