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Evading the Cops Can Prove Costly If You Are on Probation

Many Texas criminal cases end with the defendant being placed on community supervision, i.e. probation. This means the defendant will not go to jail so long as he or she follows all of the conditions of community supervision imposed by the judge. And perhaps the most important of these conditions is that the defendant refrain from committing any additional crimes while on probation.

Failure to Stop Leads to 4-Year Prison Sentence for Houston Man

When the state accuses a defendant of committing a new offense while on community supervision, it need only prove its case to a judge by a “preponderance of the evidence,” rather than demonstrate guilt beyond a reasonable doubt to a jury. In other words, the defendant is often at a significant disadvantage when it comes to arguing they did not commit an act that would justify revoking his or her parole.

Here is an example taken from a recent decision by the Texas First District Court of Appeals here in Houston. The defendant in this case, Khan v. State, previously accepted a seven-year term of community supervision as punishment for pleading guilty to a felony charge. About nine months later, prosecutors moved to “adjudicate the defendant’s guilt” and revoke probation due to a new crime that he allegedly committed.

Specifically, prosecutors charged the defendant with “intentionally and knowingly” fleeing a Harris County sheriff’s deputy. Here is what happened. The police officer said he was out on patrol one night when he saw a car–driven by the defendant–traveling well over the posted speed limit. The officer trailed the defendant but did not immediately pull him over. Instead, the officer waited until the defendant committed another traffic violation–suddenly braking and reversing his car–before taking action.

The officer activated his lights and siren. The defendant did not stop his car. Instead, the defendant “failed to stop at two stop signs,” which the officer took as proof the defendant was “evading him.” Indeed, the officer said the defendant continued to drive “very fast” until reaching the defendant’s home. The officer ultimately arrested the defendant in his driveway.

The defendant maintained he never saw the police car following him. This did not convince the judge. The court agreed with the prosecution that the defendant violated the Texas Penal Code, which makes it a third-degree felony to “evade arrest or detention” while using a motor vehicle. The judge revoked the defendant’s probation and sentenced him to four years in prison.

On appeal, the First District upheld the trial court’s decision. The officer’s testimony, as well as the footage from his dashboard camera, were more than sufficient to meet the state’s burden of proof. And as the appeals court noted, “No particular speed, distance, or duration of pursuit is required to show the requisite intent for the offense of evading arrest, or detention, in a motor vehicle.”

Speak with a Houston Criminal Defense Lawyer Today

If you are accused of a probation violation in Houston, Galveston, or League City, you need to take the matter seriously. An experienced Houston criminal defense attorney can help. Call the Law Offices of Tad Nelson & Associates if you need assistance with any criminal justice matter today.