When a police officer stops you–or attempts to stop you–for suspicion of a crime, the absolute worst thing you do is flee. The reason for this is simple. Even if you did nothing wrong in the first place, the mere fact you fled is considered evading arrest, which is a criminal offense under Texas law. In some cases, you can actually be charged with a second-degree felony, which carries a maximum prison sentence of 20 years.
Appeals Court: Lack of Dashboard Camera Footage Not Fatal to Prosecution’s Case
Indeed, the Texas 14th District Court of Appeals here in Houston recently upheld a 15-year prison sentence for a man who led local police officers on a car chase through Texas City. This case, Garner v. State, began when a woman flagged down a local police officer. The woman told the officer someone had just stolen her sister’s Chevrolet Malibu. The car was sitting at a nearby intersection.
The officer proceeded to follow the Malibu. He activated his emergency lights and siren. The driver of the Malibu–the defendant–did not stop. Instead, he proceeded to lead the officer “through a residential neighborhood traveling at approximately 55 miles per hour and refusing to stop,” according to court records. The defendant drove through several stop signs in the course of the chase. Eventually, the defendant stopped, exited the Malibu, and continued to run away on foot.
Prosecutors charged the defendant with felony evading arrest. A jury found the defendant guilty. As noted above, the court sentenced the defendant to 15 years in prison.
On appeal, the defendant challenged the sufficiency of the evidence presented against him at trial. Specifically, he maintained the prosecution failed to prove that he “knew a police officer was trying to stop him while he was in the vehicle.” The defendant pointed to the fact the police department somehow lost a video recording of the incident taken from the officer’s dashboard camera.
The 14th District said the lost video was irrelevant. It further held that the evidence supported the defendant’s conviction. The officer’s testimony was sufficient to establish that he activated his emergency lights and siren, that the defendant accelerated in response to this, and that he led the officer “on a high-speed chase through a residential neighborhood.” Even without video, the jury could still consider the “[s]peed, distance, and duration of pursuit,” in concluding the defendant intended to evade arrest. Additionally, the prosecution did present video evidence taken from the officer’s body camera, which showed the defendant “running from police officers until he was apprehended by a dog.”
Do Not Run–Contact a Houston Criminal Defense Attorney Instead
When a police officer activates their lights and siren and signals you to pull over, you must comply. No good will ever come of trying to evade arrest or detention. As the case above illustrates, running away can land you in even more serious trouble.
If you are arrested and charged with a crime, the best thing you can do is remember your right to remain silent and contact a qualified Houston criminal defense lawyer as soon as possible. Call the Law Offices of Tad Nelson & Associates in Houston, Galveston or League City at (281) 280-0100 today if you need representation in any criminal matter.