When someone finds themselves in a situation involving law enforcement, it can be stressful and confusing. Knowing the laws around interactions with peace officers, such as Texas Penal Code Section 38.04 which deals with evading detention or arrest charges, can provide clarity on what one can and cannot do. Learn more about this specific Texas law in detail, to better understand the various elements that constitute the offense and its subsequent penalties.
Williamson County Texas Evading Detention or Arrest Lawyers
Navigating the criminal justice system is challenging, but you don’t have to do it alone. Price & Twine, PLLC has a team of criminal defense lawyers ready to fight for you. Our firm proudly serves the communities of Georgetown, Round Rock, Liberty Hill and the surrounding areas of Williamson County, TX. Our commitment to our clients sets us apart from other legal teams. Choose a criminal defense lawyer who will tirelessly work to protect your future. Reach out to us at (512) 354-1880 schedule a free consultation to discuss the facts of your case. We are ready to begin your defense today.
Evading Detention or Arrest Information Center
- What Constitutes An Evading Detention Or Arrest Charge In Texas?
- Penalties For Evading Detention Or Arrest
- Definitions And Important Terms
- Defenses To Texas Penal Code Section 38.04: Evading Detention Or Arrest
- Frequently Asked Questions About Texas Penal Code Section 38.04: Evading Detention Or Arrest
According to Texas Penal Code Section 38.04, an individual is considered to be evading detention or arrest if they try to flee intentionally from an individual they know to be an officer of the peace or special federal investigator who is trying to lawfully detain or arrest them. The key element here is “intentional” flight. Accidental or unintentional distancing from an officer does not constitute an offense under this law.
Prosecution Under Multiple Laws
The law states that if an individual can be prosecuted under both this section and another law such as resisting arrest, they may face prosecution under either or both. This means that evading detention or arrest could be one of several charges levied against an individual.
Class A Misdemeanor
The offense starts as a misdemeanor (Class A), which can carry penalties of up to one year in jail and/or a fine of up to $4,000.
State Jail Felony
However, the offense elevates to a state jail felony if either:
- The individual has been previously convicted under this section, or
- The individual uses a vehicle or watercraft while fleeing, and they have not been previously convicted under this section.
In Texas, a state jail felony can carry a state jail term from one hundred eighty (180) days to 2 years, along with a $10,000 maximum fine.
Felony Of The Third Degree
The offense further upgrades to a felony of the third degree if:
- The individual uses a vehicle or watercraft while in flight and has been previously convicted under this section, or
- Someone sustains bodily injury that is considered serious as a result of the officer’s attempt to detain the individual in flight.
A felony of the third degree carries a penalty of 2 to 10 years in prison and a fine up to $10,000.
Felony Of The Second Degree
Lastly, the offense becomes a felony of the second degree if another person suffers death as a result of the officer’s attempt to detain the individual in flight. A felony of the second degree has a penalty range of 2 to 20 years in prison, along with a fine up to $10,000.
Within this law, certain terms have specific meanings:
- “Vehicle” is defined by Section 541.201 of the Texas Transportation Code.
- “Watercraft” is explained in Section 49.01 of the Texas Penal Code.
- “Tire deflation device” has its meaning outlined in Section 46.01 of the Texas Penal Code.
Being charged under Texas Penal Code Section 38.04 for evading detention or arrest can be a serious matter with a range of potential penalties. While facing such charges, it’s essential to explore all available defenses. Here are some specific defenses that could be applicable based on the statute.
Lack Of Intent
One of the main elements required for a conviction under this statute is the “intent” to evade. Therefore, if it can be proven that the individual did not intentionally flee from the officer, that may serve as a valid defense. For example, if someone ran because they were frightened but did not realize they were being pursued by an officer, this could undermine the prosecution’s case on the element of intent.
Lack Of Knowledge
Another key component of this offense is knowing that the person from whom one is fleeing is a peace officer or special federal investigator. If the individual did not know or had no reason to believe that they were fleeing from an authorized person, then this might be used as a defense. For instance, if the officer was not in uniform and did not identify themselves as an officer, the accused might claim lack of knowledge.
Unlawful Detention Or Arrest
The statute specifies that the arrest or detention must be “lawful.” Therefore, if it can be shown that the officer was acting outside the scope of their authority or that the arrest or detention was otherwise unlawful, this could serve as a defense to the charge of evading detention or arrest.
No Use Of Vehicle Or Watercraft
If the prosecution is pursuing a more severe charge based on the use of a vehicle or watercraft, proving that no such means were used during the alleged evasion could lower the severity of the charge. For example, if the accused is charged with a state jail felony for allegedly using a vehicle while evading arrest but can prove they were on foot the entire time, the charge might revert to a (Class A) misdemeanor.
No Previous Conviction
The statute makes a distinction for those who have been previously convicted under this section. If the prosecution is attempting to elevate the charge based on a previous conviction that either doesn’t exist or cannot be proven, this would be an essential point for the defense to raise.
Lack Of Serious Bodily Injury Or Death
The statute becomes significantly more severe if another person suffers serious bodily injury or death during the evasion. If these outcomes can be proven unrelated to the evasion or the actions of the accused, it could serve as a valid defense.
Q. What Does “Intentionally Fleeing” Mean?
A. In the context of this statute, “intentionally fleeing” means that the person made a conscious decision to run away or evade an officer who was attempting to lawfully arrest or detain them. It’s not enough for the person to simply move away; there must be a deliberate effort to evade the officer.
Q. What Is Considered A “Lawful” Detention Or Arrest?
A. For an arrest or detention to be considered “lawful,” it must be conducted by an authorized peace officer or special federal investigator following the proper protocols and legal requirements. An arrest or detention that violates a person’s constitutional rights may not be considered lawful, and thus could serve as a defense to an evading charge.
Q. Can The Severity Of The Charge Be Increased?
A. Yes, the base charge under this statute is a misdemeanor (Class A). However, it can be elevated to a state jail felony, a third-degree felony, or even a second-degree felony, based on specific circumstances like prior convictions, use of a vehicle or watercraft, or causing serious bodily injury or death to another person.
Q. What Is A State Jail Felony?
A. A state jail felony is considered a criminal offense in Texas that is more serious than a misdemeanor but less significant than a common or traditional felony. It carries a potential penalty of 180 days to 2 years in a state jail facility, along with a possible fine of up to $10,000.
Q. What Does “Serious Bodily Injury” Mean?
Serious bodily injury means an injury that causes a significant risk of death or that results in permanent serious disfigurement or the loss or impairment of a bodily function. If such an injury occurs as a direct result of an attempt to catch the person evading arrest, the charges could be elevated to a third-degree or second-degree felony.
Q. Can I Be Charged Under This Section And Another Law?
A. The statute allows for an individual to be prosecuted under both this section and another law if the actions meet the criteria for multiple offenses. For example, if someone evades arrest and also commits assault, they could potentially be charged under both laws.
Q. What Should I Do If I’m Charged?
Understanding the nuances of Texas Penal Code Section 38.04 is crucial for anyone who may find themselves in a situation involving law enforcement. Fleeing from an officer can result in severe consequences ranging from misdemeanors to felonies, depending on various factors including previous convictions and the use of vehicles or watercraft. Always consult with a knowledgeable criminal defense attorney if you find yourself facing charges related to evading detention or arrest in Texas.
Hiring an Attorney to Defend a Charge of Evading Detention or Arrest | Price & Twine, PLLC
When facing criminal charges, you need a skilled and dedicated attorney who can make a real difference. The lawyers at Price & Twine, PLLC are highly experienced in criminal defense in Williamson County and are committed to achieving one of the best outcomes for our clients. Secure your future today by scheduling a consultation with us. Call (512) 354-1880 to find out how we can work to defend your case.