Being under arrest is an unpleasant experience that no one wants to endure. However, if you take actions that indicate that you are resisting arrest, then you risk further charges being leveled against you. There is protocol on both sides. Just like there are certain regulations that the police must follow when they are making arrests, certain behavior demonstrated by citizens can constitute resisting arrest.
Laws addressing the offense of resisting arrest vary from state to state. These laws can give rise to controversial situations involving law enforcement officers and the citizens that they are attempting to arrest. Some agencies use "body cams" to record such interactions. However, even when the cameras are used, there are problems including malfunctioning equipment and human error that render them useless. With that in mind, one cannot rely on cameras, and an understanding of Texas' resisting arrest laws is helpful when dealing with these issues.
Resisting Arrest in Texas
In Texas resisting arrest occurs when an individual uses force to interfere with or prevent a law enforcement officer from:
- Completing an arrest;
- Carrying out a search; or
- Transporting a person accused of a crime.
Evading Arrest in Texas
You can be charged with evading arrest if you intentionally run from a known law enforcement officer who is attempting to lawfully arrest or detain you. Lawful Arrest
In some states, the underlying arrest must be a lawful arrest. However, that is not the case in Texas: You can be charged with resisting arrest even if the arrest itself was unlawful. For evading arrest charges, you cannot be charged if the arrest was unlawful.
Texas Resisting Arrest Laws at a Glance
The chart below provides a summary of laws related to resisting arrest laws in Texas, including links to important code sections.
Statutes and Elements of the Crime
- Resisting arrest, search, or transportation: Texas Penal Code 38.03 (requires you to use force, but the arrest does not have to be lawful)
- Evading arrest or detention: Texas Penal Code 38.04 (does not require you to use force, but the evasion must result from a lawful arrest)
Penalties and Sentencing
- Resisting arrest is a class A misdemeanor which means that you can face a 1-year jail sentence and fines up to $4000.
- The charge is upgraded to a felony of the third degree if you use a deadly weapon to resist the arrest or search.
Evading arrest: Under most circumstances, resisting arrest is a class A misdemeanor.
- The charge is elevated to a State Jail felony if you have been previously convicted of this crime or if you used a vehicle to evade law enforcement and have not been previously convicted.
- A State Jail felony is punishable by a fine of up to $10,000 and a jail term of 180 days to 2 years.
- This crime will be charged as a felony in the third degree if you have a prior conviction of this crime and you use a vehicle to evade arrest or another party suffers serious bodily injury directly resulting from your evasion attempt.
- If another party dies as a direct result of the attempted evasion, the crime will be considered a felony in the second degree; a second degree felony conviction carries with it fines up to $10,000 and a prison sentence ranging between 2 and 20 years.
- Self defense
- Officer used excessive force
- No use of force (applicable to resisting arrest charges)
- Officer did not identify himself/herself
Note: State laws are always subject to change through the passage of new legislation, rulings in the higher courts (including federal decisions), ballot initiatives, and other means. While we strive to provide the most current information available, please consult an attorney or conduct your own legal research to verify the state law(s) you are researching.
Texas Resisting Arrest Laws: Related Resources
Get Help with Your Resisting Arrest Case
If you have been accused of violating Texas' resisting arrest laws, then you may be dealing with serious consequences. You are likely already facing charges from the underlying arrest, but the resisting arrest charge can result in additional fines and possible incarceration. Get help from a Texas criminal defense attorney immediately.