Common Defenses to Evading Arrest Charges

By Brock Benjamin
Founding Attorney

When a police officer in Texas or New Mexico tries to stop an individual and make an arrest, the individual is legally required to comply. Not complying and allowing the arrest, or actively resisting it, can lead to evading arrest charges. These can happen for countless reasons – a misunderstanding, a wrongful accusation, an emergency, self-defense, fight or flight response, and beyond – and the consequences can be severe. 

Facing evading arrest charges in Texas and New Mexico is incredibly stressful. Not only is there likely another pending charge or case – which was the cause of the arrest which was allegedly evaded – but there are significant penalties on the table, potentially even more harsh than the ones for the underlying arrest. However, an experienced criminal defense attorney can help you fight and beat these charges.

If you or a loved one are facing charges for evading arrest in Texas or New Mexico, trust an experienced criminal defense law firm backed by an expert in the field. We are ready to start fighting for you, your future, and your freedom today. The sooner you reach out, the easier it is to secure a positive outcome. 

What Is an Evading Arrest Charge in Texas and New Mexico? And What Are the Potential Penalties?

Evading arrest occurs when an individual intentionally flees or attempts to elude a police officer attempting to lawfully arrest them. These charges are taken very seriously, as both Texas and New Mexico view evading arrest as undermining the authority of police officers and putting their safety at risk. The penalties depend on whether the evading occurred on foot or with a motor vehicle. 

Jurisdiction:Evading on FootEvading by Motor Vehicle
TexasClass A misdemeanor, up to one year in jail and a fine of up to $4,000.State jail felony, up to two years in jail and a fine of up to $10,000.
New MexicoPetty misdemeanor, up to six months in jail and a fine of up to $500.Fourth-degree felony, up to 18 months in prison and a fine of up to $5,000.

These penalties are generally increased, or “enhanced” depending on the alleged evader’s prior criminal record, especially if they have been charged with evading arrest previously. The penalties will also be enhanced if anyone was injured while attempting to flee. 

How The Benjamin Law Firm Can Defend You Against Evading Arrest Charges 

There are many different avenues to explore in defending against an evading arrest charge, and their effectiveness depends on your individual circumstances. It’s important to discuss your options with an experienced criminal defense attorney to come up with the best possible defense strategy for your unique situation.

  1. Lack of intent. In order to secure a conviction for evading arrest, the prosecutor must show that you attempted to evade an arrest intentionally. Intent is very hard to prove, as there is never a way to go back in time and know what was going on in someone’s head. Presenting evidence that you weren’t trying to flee may weaken the prosecution’s case.
  1. Lack of knowledge. If you genuinely didn’t know you were being pursued by an officer of the law or weren’t able to see or hear the officer’s attempts to make an arrest, you have a strong defense against evading arrest charges. This is especially common when visibility is poor or when the arrest is taking place in a very noisy environment.
  1. Mistaken identity. If you weren’t the individual who the officer was trying to arrest, then you can’t be charged with evading arrest. Presenting evidence demonstrating that the officer intended to arrest someone else goes a long way in fighting evading arrest charges.
  1. The arrest or stop wasn’t lawful. If the arrest which you were charged with attempting to evade wasn’t lawful in the first place, then the prosecution’s case falls apart. This defense involves presenting evidence of procedural issues, violated constitutional rights, improper warrants, issues with chain of custody of any evidence, or a lack of probable cause. Challenging the legality and procedural accuracy of the officer’s actions can also render vital evidence inadmissible.
  1. The necessity defense. The necessity defense may be brought when there was a compelling reason why it was absolutely necessary to evade the arrest, such as preventing imminent harm to yourself or others.
  1. Lack of evidence. Any charge must be backed up with enough evidence to be proven beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law. A tried-and-true strategy used across the field of criminal defense is to cast doubt and poke holes in the prosecution’s evidence and assumptions. If they don’t have enough evidence that you evaded arrest, or if their evidence is discredited, the prosecutor may reach a point where their only option is to drop the charge.
  1. Self-defense. Under narrow circumstances, resisting arrest can be considered a form of self-defense in cases where the officer is using excessive force. According to Texas law, an individual can forcibly resist an arrest or a search if the officer uses “greater force than necessary” before the individual resists and when the force is reasonably necessary to protect themselves from immediate harm from the excessive force.
  1. Your actions weren’t voluntary. If you evaded arrest because you were being forced to do so against your will, because you had a medical emergency, or because your car malfunctioned such that you couldn’t stop it, you may have a strong case against the charges. This can include not stopping for an officer due to a medical issue behind the wheel or a vehicular malfunction and being forced against your will not to stop by another person exerting physical force or the threat of force. If there was a mental issue which stopped you from submitting to the arrest, such as a break from reality or an inability to understand what was happening around you, you may have a compelling case that you were not responsible for your actions. 
  1. There was no force used against the officer. The officer may claim that you resisted arrest by using force, but that may not be the case. Law enforcement is known to get frustrated with individuals who aren’t responding as quickly as they want or moving as they direct. This often causes them to become angry and can lead them to say that you were not complying with the arrest as a form of “passive resistance”. However, using force in Texas requires that an individual is “aggressive or assertive” in their actions against the officer while resisting arrest.

Experienced Texas Evading Arrest Defense Attorney

Evading arrest is a serious charge in Texas and New Mexico, but there are many avenues by which you can mount an effective defense, especially with an experienced criminal defense attorney by your side. It’s critical to start fighting the charge as early as possible to mitigate the charge’s impact on your life, freedom, and future. The earlier you start fighting, the better chances of a positive outcome.

If you or a loved one have been charged with evading arrest in Texas or New Mexico, turn to the The Benjamin Law Firm, founded and led by an expert in the field of criminal defense. Attorney Brock Morgan Benjamin is Board Certified in Criminal Law by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization, making him a true standout in the field. Anyone can practice criminal law, but few truly specialize in it, embodying the extent of Attorney Benjamin’s experience and knowledge in the field of criminal law.

Attorney Benjamin also knows the way these cases work – the tactics prosecutors use to get convictions and the ways they present evidence. That’s because Attorney Benjamin was once a prosecutor himself, giving himself and his clients a leg up. Our team will fight relentlessly for the best possible outcome, with the goal of getting the charges dropped altogether. 

Contact us or call (915)-221-7462 so we can start fighting for you! ¡También hablamos español!

About the Author
Brock Benjamin is board-certified in Criminal Law by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization.  His practice is primarily state and federal criminal law and appeals.Brock 

Posted in: Criminal Defense