What To Know About Resisting Arrest And Evading Arrest Charges In Texas
A run-in with the law can lead to any number of potential criminal charges in Texas. Among them are charges of Resisting Arrest, or Evading Arrest. These charges are often combined with other charges related to the incident or traffic stop.
For some defendants, charges of Resisting or Evading Arrest in Texas can come as a surprise. The individual may have been driving with their music too loud, preoccupied with a task, or simply lost in thought when an officer approached or turned their lights on behind them on the road. Other examples – such as intentionally fleeing in a high-speed chase or running from police are more obvious.
However, it is important for Texans to know the laws and potential consequences if they are suspected of resisting or evading arrest.
What is “Resisting Arrest” under Texas Law?
Texas Penal Code § 38.03 states that a person commits the crime of resisting arrest when they “intentionally prevent or obstruct” a person they know is a peace officer (or a person working with an officer) by using force against the peace officer or another individual.
A resisting arrest charge requires some act of force against the arresting officer – generally some physical act to prevent the arrest from being effectuated. As opposed to evading arrest, resisting arrest requires some sort of confrontation.
Notably, it is not a defense to a resisting arrest charge that the arrest was unlawful. However, there are some available defenses under Texas Penal Code Section 9.31(c) such as:
- The officer used force greater than necessary to effectuate the arrest, search, or detention; and
- The defendant reasonably believed the force they used was necessary to protect themselves against the officer’s use of greater-than-necessary force.
In other words, self defense is a potential defense to this charge.
Resisting arrest is considered a Class A misdemeanor of first-time offenders, but can be a state jail felony for those previously convicted. This could mean up to a year in jail and $4,000 in fines.
What is “Evading Arrest” Under Texas Law?
Texas Penal Code § 38.04 states that a person commits the crime of evading arrest when they intentionally flee from a person they know is a peace officer or federal special investigator attempting to lawfully arrest or detain them.
Unlike resisting arrest, an evading arrest charge does not require any contact or confrontation between the defendant and the officer. Evading arrest only requires a showing of intent to flee by the defendant. This is a Class A misdemeanor for those fleeing on foot, but a state jail felony for repeat offenders or those fleeing in a vehicle or boat.
In these cases, the State must prove:
- The defendant intended to flee. A mistake or misunderstanding by the suspect is not enough to show intent.
- The arrest was lawful. Generally, evading arrest is connected to some other crime the police had probable cause to detain the suspect for. When the only charge against a defendant is evading arrest, the State’s case becomes considerably weaker.
Our Pearland, Texas Criminal Defense Attorney Can Help if You Face Charges of Resisting Arrest or Evading Arrest under Texas Law
Unfortunately, encounters with law enforcement can be complicated and dangerous. Because they are naturally tense situations, it is not hard for a suspect to make an error in judgment, or have their actions misunderstood by law enforcement. If you find yourself facing a charge of resisting or evading arrest, you need experienced and capable legal help at your side. At Keith B. French Law, our Pearland criminal lawyers understand your fears and the questions you will have about your legal options. Contact us today for help.