Evading Arrest in a Motor Vehicle: How Texas Prosecutes Those That Flee

What Happens When You Evade Arrest In A Vehicle in Texas?

It’s the kind of thing that you can see all the time on the news or on television shows: someone commits a crime and then runs from the cops, causing a vehicular chase. It’s true that committing a crime is bad enough. Trying to flee from law enforcement in a vehicle will make this situation much worse.

Fleeing from the cops in Texas while in a vehicle is extremely dangerous to the suspect, the police and innocent bystanders. For these reasons, running from the cops in a vehicle can lead to swift and severe prosecution.

Evading Arrest: How It Is Defined

In Texas, when a person is placed under arrest by law enforcement, that person is expected to comply with the requests and demands of the arresting officer. In effect, this means that you are supposed to allow yourself to be arrested.

Any attempt to prevent a police officer from making an arrest may be considered a criminal offense. If you actually flee from a peace officer or a federal special agent who is attempting to lawfully place you under arrest or detain you, you can be charged with evading arrest.

This charge can apply whether you run away on foot, in a car or in a boat. However, the legal penalties for this offense can be sharply increased if you try to flee from an arrest while in a motor vehicle.

Fleeing on Foot vs. Fleeing by Vehicle

Imagine the following scenario: James is walking home from work one evening. A police officer investigating a robbery nearby sees James, who resembles the description of the robbery suspect. The officer pulls up and detains James in order to ask him some questions. James gets nervous and runs away from the officer, even though he has done nothing wrong. Under Texas law, James has just committed the crime of evading arrest and can be arrested, jailed and prosecuted for this offense. This remains true even if it turns out James did nothing else wrong.

In a slightly different scenario, James is approached by the officer and asked to stop. Instead, James sees his friend sitting in a car across the street. James runs to the car, jumps in and the two drive away. James has still committed a crime for evading arrest but the crime has been enhanced because he fled in a car.

Under Texas law, evading arrest on foot is a misdemeanor. Evading arrest in a motor vehicle is a felony offense.

Crime Enhancements

Fleeing from the police in a vehicle is dangerous. This action can lead to further bad outcomes, such as injuries, traffic accidents and additional crimes. If some of these situations occur when someone runs from the police, additional charges can be filed.

For example, fleeing from an arrest on foot is a Class A misdemeanor in Texas. Fleeing from an arrest in a vehicle is automatically upgraded to a state jail felony. However, that charge can be upgraded to a felony of the third degree if:

  • The defendant has previously been convicted of evading an arrest


  • Another person suffers a serious bodily injury as a direct results of the actions that follow the arrest evasion

If another person is killed as a direct result of a person who is trying to evade an arrest in a vehicle, the evading arrest charge can be automatically upgraded to a felony of the second degree.

Criminal Penalties

Evading arrest in a vehicle is a state jail felony, which is punishable by:

  • 180 days or up to two years in a state jail facility
  • A fine of up to $10,000

Evading arrest in a vehicle with a previous conviction for the same offense or in which another person is seriously injured is a felony of the third degree. This is punishable by:

  • Two years or up to 10 years in prison
  • A fine of up to $10,000

Evading arrest in a scenario that leads to the death of another person is a felony of the second degree. This is punishable by:

  • Two to 20 years in state prison
  • A fine of up to $10,000

Legal Considerations

It is entirely possible for a person to be charged with evading arrest even if they are not guilty of any other crimes. According to Texas law, it is an individual criminal offense simply to flee from a law enforcement officer who is trying to perform a legal arrest OR a detention.

This means that you can be arrested, booked into jail and prosecuted for running away from a police officer who is trying to detain you to ask you questions.

However, a charge of evading arrest can also be added on top of any other charges to enhance or lengthen a criminal sentence. For example, a charge of evading arrest can be added on top of a charge for robbery. In some cases, this can turn a sentence of incarceration in jail into a sentence that must be served in state prison.

Anyone who is considering running from the police should never do so. However, if you have been charged with evading arrest in a vehicle, consult a criminal defense attorney. They may be able to help you argue that the officer was illegally performing an arrest, which could result in dropped charges.

Do you know someone that has been charged with evading arrest? Time is of the essence in these situations. Contact attorney Matthew Sharp today at 713-868-6100. He can help ensure that his or her legal rights are protected.