Fleeing and Eluding a Police Officer
You’re driving and mentally organizing your daily tasks when all of a sudden, you’re bombarded by red and blue lights. Although you’re aware you should pull over, your panic response takes over and unexpectedly you find yourself attempting to flee or elude law enforcement. If this situation sounds familiar to you, you’re not alone. Every year thousands of Texans are arrested for fleeing and eluding a police officer and face the statutory penalties including imprisonment.
Fleeing and eluding a police officer is a misdemeanor in the state of Texas and could result in a term of incarceration and hefty fines. The statutory penalties aren’t the only ones you’ll have to worry about also. You may face collateral consequences including termination from your job, revocation/suspension of your professional license, and even issues finding housing. With so much on the line, it’s important you have an experienced Texas fleeing and eluding attorney on your side to represent you in court.
Austin Attorney for Fleeing and Eluding in Texas
Most cases of fleeing and eluding are due to extreme stress or nerves from the defendant and don’t stem from any criminal intent. Many people convicted of fleeing and eluding only did so as an impulse and have little to no prior criminal history. Despite this, the state of Texas has serious penalties for anyone who attempts to flee and elude law enforcement.
If you’ve been charged with fleeing and eluding, consult The Law Office of Kevin Bennett. Kevin Bennett of The Law Office of Kevin Bennett has been representing clients accused of fleeing and eluding for years and can do the same for you. Call The Law Office of Kevin Bennett now at (512) 476-4626 to set up your first consultation free of charge. The Law Office of Kevin Bennett accepts clients throughout the greater Travis County area including Austin, Lago Vista, Lakeway, and Pflugerville.
- What Constitutes as Fleeing and Eluding in Texas?
- What is the Punishment for Fleeing the Police in Texas?
- What’s the Difference Between Eluding and Evading Police in Texas?
- Additional Resources
What Constitutes as Fleeing and Eluding in Texas?
The crime of fleeing and eluding law enforcement can be found under the Texas Transportation Code Section 545.421. According to the statute, you’re guilty of fleeing and eluding a police officer if you do any of the following while operating a motor vehicle in Texas.
- Willfully fails or refuses to bring the vehicle to a stop; or
- Flees or attempts to elude a pursuing police vehicle when given a visual or audible cue from the officer to stop
Signals given by the police officer may involve hand gestures, voice signals, emergency lights on, or the siren. Only officers that are on duty, in official uniform, and with a prominently displayed badge of office visible on their person. They must also be driving a police vehicle that’s been officially and appropriately marked as a police vehicle.
Most think of wailing sirens and high-speed chases when they hear the words “fleeing and eluding police.” However, you could be charged with fleeing and eluding for simply failing to stop at the signal of an officer directing or stopping traffic on foot. No matter the details of the case, it’s important you have legal representation ready if you’ve been charged with fleeing and eluding a police officer.
What is the Punishment for Fleeing from the Police in Texas?
The severity of the penalties for fleeing and eluding will depend on the facts of the case. Generally speaking, fleeing or eluding a police officer without any aggravating factors is a class B misdemeanor. The maximum penalties for a class B misdemeanor include:
- Up to 180 days in jail; and
- A fine of up to $2,000
The crime is reclassified as a class A misdemeanor if it’s proven in court the defendant recklessly engaged in conduct that placed another in imminent danger of serious bodily injury during the commission of the offense. For instance, knowingly driving an motor vehicle while intoxicated would be considered reckless conduct that could put another at risk.
A class A misdemeanor is punishable by:
- Up to 12 months in jail; and
- A fine of up to $4,000
What’s the Difference Between Eluding an Evading Police in Texas?
Failing to stop and follow law enforcement instructions while driving can result in an arrest for evading or eluding law enforcement. Although both acts sound similar, they are defined differently under the Texas Transportation Code and result in different penalties.
The definition for evading arrest is located under the Texas Penal Code section 38.04. According to the statute, you’re guilty of evading law enforcement if you intentionally flee from someone you know is a peace officer or federal investigator trying to lawfully detain/arrest you. Eluding law enforcement, on the other hand, is when you willfully refuse or fail to stop your vehicle after an officer has given you an audible/visual signal to pull over.
What separates these two is you must have a warrant pending or know you’re about to be arrested and then flee law enforcement to face charges for evading. Whereas eluding charges are simply for people who fled from law enforcement after they’ve been told to pull over. Both crimes carry serious penalties, but the sentencing conditions for evading arrest are much more severe. The lightest penalty a person can receive for evading arrest is a state jail felony, which is punishable by the following:
- Up to 2 years in a state jail; and
- A fine of up to $10,000
Texas Statute for Fleeing & Eluding – Visit the official website for the Texas Constitution and Statues to learn more about fleeing and eluding charges in Texas. Access the site to read up on the elements of fleeing and eluding, the penalties for the crime, and other factors.
Change of Austin Police Procedures due to COVID-19 – Visit the official website for CBS Austin, to learn more about how the Austin police department has changed their traffic stop procedures in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Access the site to see what warrants a stop now for officers, how the city plans to protect officers, and how they transport people after an arrest to uphold social distancing restrictions.
Travis County Attorney for Fleeing & Eluding a Police Officer in TX
If you have been arrested for fleeing and eluding from law enforcement, then we urge you to contact Kevin Bennett of The Law Office of Kevin Bennett. Attorney Bennett is a born-and-bred Austin native who is passionate about defending his clients so they can retain their rights and liberty. He understands what it takes to fight a fleeing and eluding charge and will do whatever conceivable to ensure you have the best possible result for your case.
Set up your first consultation with The Law Office of Kevin Bennett today by calling (512) 476-4626. The Law Office of Kevin Bennett accepts clients throughout the greater Travis County and Austin area including Lago Vista, Lakeway, Pflugerville and Bee Cave.