Criminal Defense Attorney Representing Fort Worth, Arlington, and Tarrant County Clients
Were you arrested or charged with evading arrest in Fort Worth, Arlington, or Tarrant County? The police and prosecutor have already begun building a case against you and will vigorously prosecute you, even if you are innocent or simply made a mistake. You need an aggressive and experienced Fort Worth criminal defense lawyer to defend you against allegations of evading arrest. A conviction for evading arrest may have devastating and permanent consequences for your future, affecting not only your liberty but your reputation and ability to obtain a job as well.
At the Fulgham Law Firm, our team of six criminal defense attorneys strive to tailor representation to each client’s needs and goals. How we manage cases varies depends on the unique facts and circumstances surrounding it, the strength of the prosecution’s evidence, and your best interests. No two cases are alike, and no two clients are alike.
Some attorneys have a routine approach to criminal cases and have little to no communication with their clients. You want an attorney in whom you can feel confident. As skilled criminal defense attorneys, our lawyers will take all measures possible to safeguard your legal rights and interests.
Accordingly, our criminal defense team pledges to provide each client with close, personal attention and customized representation. If you were charged with evading arrest in the Fort Worth area, call the Fulgham Law Firm today at (817) 886-3078 to schedule a free consultation.
What Is The Charge For Evading Arrest In Texas?
In order to determine the severity of an evading arrest charge in Texas, you must first determine whether the evading arrest was by foot or in a vehicle. Evading arrest by foot is classified as a Class A Misdemeanor. However, if you have been previously convicted of a misdemeanor evading arrest, your current charge can be enhanced to a felony. Evading Arrest in a Vehicle is a felony crime.
The Texas Penal Code § 38.04 defines evading arrest as “a person commits an offense if he intentionally flees from a person, he knows is a peace officer or federal special investigator attempting lawfully to arrest or detain him.”
However, keep in mind that under Texas law, you are not required to stop and speak with every police officer that attempts to engage you in a conversation. Specifically, you have the right to decline questions, searches, and pat downs.
You also have the right to walk away from an officer, in the event you have not been placed in custody for questioning or have been formally arrested. It is important to know your rights because many Tarrant County police officers will try to trick you into consenting to something that you are not legally required to do.
When reasonable suspicion or probable cause have been established, a police officer may order you to stop. In addition, if an officer is trying to arrest or detain you, the officer may order you to stop. At this point, you are not free to walk away. If you try to leave, you may be charged with evading arrest.
Evading Arrest on Foot
So, what should you do if a police officer approaches you and you know you have done nothing wrong? Whatever you do, DO NOT RUN! You may be completely innocent but choosing to run from the police will result in a misdemeanor evading arrest charge that could ruin your clean criminal record. Ideally, you should be polite to the police officer, exercise your rights under the law and remain compliant until the office releases you.
For example: we represented a client that was talking to someone in an alleyway when he noticed a police officer walk in his direction. He got nervous and the officer asked him a question and he started running. The officer then yelled at him to stop running but he continued. Now, the client had done nothing wrong up until he decided to run after being told to stop. However, choosing to keep running caused him to commit a crime when he had no reason to run whatsoever. Lesson learned = do not run from the police!
Evading Arrest With A Vehicle
Evading arrest commonly arises in the context of vehicles. Many individuals become scared when they see flashing police lights and do not immediately pull over, while other individuals may become confused, not understand that the police officer intends for them to pull over, and instead continue to drive. The District Attorney’s Office commonly prosecutes drivers who fail to pull over for signaling officers within a reasonable amount of time.
For example: we represented a client that was arrested for felony evading arrest because he did not notice the police officer behind him attempting to pull him over. He was driving a work truck with boxes and other items blocking his field of view behind his rear-view mirror. He was also listening to music loudly as he was driving. He continued to drive for over three miles before he realized a police officer behind him. You can imagine it was a shock when the officer pulled out a gun and forced him to the ground when he did not intentionally flee from the officer. However, as we will discuss shortly, we argued he did not have the required criminal intent necessary to be convicted of evading arrest and his charge was subsequently dismissed.
Penalties for Evading Arrest
Evading arrest may be a misdemeanor or felony in the state of Texas. Without any aggravating circumstances, evading arrest is a Class A misdemeanor. All Class A misdemeanors in Texas are punishable by up to one year in Tarrant County jail and/or up to $4,000 in fines.
Evading arrest becomes a felony when either: (1) the individual has a previous conviction of evasion or (2) a vehicle is involved during the fleeing from the police officer. A conviction for felony evading arrest can result in a sanction of up to 2 years in Texas state prison and up to $10,000 in fines.
Can You Get Probation For Evading Arrest In Texas?
It is always possible! However, the best evading arrest attorneys are always pushing to resolve their client’s case for a dismissal of the charges. If, for whatever reason, your evading arrest case is unable to be dismissed, it becomes necessary to examine what factors play into negotiating for a probation.
First, have you been previously convicted for a felony charge or an evading arrest in Texas? Being previously convicted for a felony makes someone ineligible for probation from a jury at a jury trial. However, it does not mean that your criminal defense attorney cannot negotiate a probation offer with the prosecutor. If you have been previously convicted for evading arrest, your criminal attorney will have to be patient in negotiations because many prosecutors are less willing to offer probation for repeat offenders of the same crime.
Secondly, make certain the probation offer you have received makes sense for you. In other words, not all offers of probation achieve the goal that most first-offenders are looking for: no conviction and eligibility to have the arrest and charge removed from their criminal record.
Let us examine the two types of probation you can receive on an evading arrest charge in Texas:
- Straight Probation – straight probation is a type of probation that requires you to plead guilty to the crime of evading arrest. Upon a plea of guilty, you are found guilty by the judge, convicted, and placed on a term of probation negotiated upon by your criminal lawyer and the prosecutor. The downside? You have been convicted of the crime of evading arrest and the arrest and crime are on your permanent criminal record. The only benefit of a straight probation is that your punishment range is limited to what you negotiated as part of the plea term for probation length.
- Deferred Adjudication Probation – deferred adjudication is a type of probation that also requires you to plead guilty to the crime, but you are not convicted of the crime. Instead, the judge will accept your plea of guilty but defer a finding of guilt contingent upon your completing the terms and conditions of your probation. In other words, if you complete what you are supposed to do on probation, your evading arrest case will be dismissed, and you could be eligible to have your arrest and case file sealed under the process of a non-disclosure. By having the charged non-disclosed from your record, employers will be unable to see that you were ever arrested or charged with a crime, and you will be allowed to deny the existence of the charge.
Remember, probation is not necessarily the goal you should be pursuing if you or a loved one has been charged with evading arrest in Fort Worth or the Tarrant County area. The number one goal your attorney should be fighting for is to keep you out of jail and get your evading arrest charge dismissed. The best way to do that is to formulate a strong legal defense to hold the State of Texas to their burden of proof.
Defenses To Evading Arrest
If you have been charged with evading arrest by vehicle or on foot in the Fort Worth or Tarrant County area, it is critical to familiarize yourself with Texas law and possible defenses to your criminal charge. These are a few of the defense that we have found to be successful in defending evading arrest charges in Texas.
Lack of Intent
Remember, the State of Texas must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that you intentionally fled someone you knew to be a police officer that was attempting to lawfully detain or arrest you. The best example of someone lacking criminal intent is when they flee from someone, they did not know was a police officer.
This situation takes place routinely in bars or events where undercover officers or off-duty officers take over a situation and attempt to detain people. We have seen situations where loud music is playing in a bar and a client had too much to drink so the bar tells the police officer in plain clothes to “escort” the client out of the bar. The client cannot hear very well because of the loud music and has no idea the person approaching him is a police officer. When the client walks away from the officer, they are arrested for evading arrest. Should they have been arrested? Can the prosecutor prove the element of criminal intent beyond a reasonable doubt? Unlikely! When you cannot hear very well and it is not obvious to the reasonable person that the man approaching you is a police officer, it makes it very difficult for the State of Texas to meet their burden of proof in a jury trial.
What if the police officer detaining or arresting you acted unlawfully? What if they did not have reasonable suspicion or probable cause? This is a critical defense for anyone charged with felony or misdemeanor evading arrest. The police officer must have been acting legally in order for the evading arrest to be prosecuted.
For example: what if the police officer did not like the clothes, you were wearing or something about you that gave him a “hunch” you must be a criminal or doing something illegal? What if, based upon this, the officer detains you or arrests you and you evading the arrest? Choosing to arrest or detain someone based upon a “hunch” is an illegal act by the police officer. As such, your criminal attorney can contest the actions of the police in court through pre-trial hearings and if it is determined the arrest or detention was illegal, your evading arrest charge could be dismissed.
Grand Jury Presentations
Finally, what if you have been charged with a felony evading arrest and you have a strong legal defense? Is there a way to act quickly to possibly get your case lowered to a lesser charge or dismissed? Yes! Your criminal defense attorney should act quickly to gain access to the police reports, videos, and any other evidence in the possession of the State of Texas.
Every felony case in Texas must be presented to a grand jury for indictment. The best criminal lawyers understand the importance of providing exculpatory and mitigating evidence to the grand jury to benefit their clients. The grand jury can choose to “true bill” a case, resulting in the charge remaining as a felony and being assigned to a felony district court. However, the grand jury can also choose to lower the felony charge to a lesser misdemeanor offense and assign the case a misdemeanor county court. The best-case scenario would be for the grand jury to No Bill the case. A No Bill is a dismissal of the charges and provides eligibility to have the arrest and case file completely expunged from the client’s criminal record.
Passionate and Zealous Representation for the Accused in Tarrant County
At the Fulgham Law Firm, I provide passionate criminal defense of the accused. However, at the Fulgham Law Firm, you have the opportunity to work not only with Brandon Fulgham, but also with a team of 6 Former Prosecutors with over 80 years of criminal law experienced and over five hundred criminal jury trials in the courts of Tarrant County, Dallas County, and the courts of North Texas.
Contact my Fort Worth law office now at (817) 886-3078 for a free and confidential consultation. As a Texas native and Texas licensed attorney, I have a keen understanding of our state’s laws, court systems, and potential successful defenses for evading arrest charges. In addition, my experience as a prosecutor provides me with the uncanny ability to anticipate the prosecution’s evidence and theory of the case.
Contact my Fort Worth law office now at (817) 886-3078 to schedule your free and completely confidential consultation.
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