Evading means avoiding, evading or escaping. It’s further defined as doing so with speed, cleverness or trickery. Most importantly, when it comes to evading the police in Texas, it means breaking the law. In many cases, the person who tries to flee is worried about getting a ticket for a broken tail light or knows they have an outstanding citation. Yes, you will certainly get in trouble for not paying your ticket or not fixing your tail light, but your legal woes will become substantially greater if you do not heed an officer’s order to stop.
How Texas law works if you are charged with evading the police
While “running away” from the police can involve a foot chase, it usually involves a traffic stop. Whether you see the flashing lights and hear the siren from the patrol vehicle or have been otherwise signaled to stop, you are required to do so by law. If you do not and are charged with evading the police, the prosecution needs to prove intent: that whoever attempted to elude or evade knew what they were doing and did it on purpose.
According to Texas Transportation Code 545.421:
- A person commits an offense if the person operating a motor vehicle and willfully fails or refuses to bring the vehicle to a stop or flees, or attempts to evade, a pursuing police vehicle when given a visual or audible signal to bring the vehicle to a stop.
- A signal under this section that is given by a police officer pursuing a vehicle may be by hand, voice, emergency light, or siren. The officer giving the signal must be in uniform and prominently display the officers badge of office. The officer’s vehicle must bear the insignia of a law enforcement agency, regardless of whether the vehicle displays an emergency light.
- Except as provided by Subsection (d), an offense under this section is a Class B misdemeanor.
- Subsection (d): An offense under this section is a Class A misdemeanor if the person, during the commission of the offense, recklessly engages in conduct that places another in imminent danger of serious bodily injury.
- A person is presumed to have recklessly engaged in conduct placing another in imminent danger of serious bodily injury under Subsection (d) if the person while intoxicated knowingly operated a motor vehicle during the commission of the offense. In this subsection, “intoxicated” has the meaning assigned by Section 49.01 (Definitions), Penal Code.
It’s also important to know that even a passenger in a vehicle can be charged if they urged the driver to flee or in any way participated in evading the police.
Penalties for evading HOuston, Texas police
Do not assume that because evading the police is a misdemeanor that it is not taken seriously. While the penalties are not as stiff as those for a felony, they may still show up on your record.
- If convicted of a Class B misdemeanor, penalties include fines of up to $2,000 and a jail sentence of up to 180 days, or both.
- If convicted of a Class A misdemeanor, you may face fines of up to $4,000 and a jail sentence of up to one year, or both.
If there are previous convictions for evading the police, the fines and jail sentences become more severe.
Aggressive defense against charges of evading the police in Texas
Learn more about how experienced, board certified criminal law attorney Andrew Williams can protect your rights. Before you talk to the police, talk to us. We have successfully defended people throughout Harris county against criminal charges. To schedule a free consultation to discuss your case, please contact us online or call us at 281-358-9111 to speak with our Kingwood, TX criminal defense lawyer.