It can happen to anyone. You’ve been wrongfully accused of a serious crime. You know the bail will be set higher than you can afford. You have had a few small scrapes with the law before so you have waited in a cell with dozens of others for your first appearance previously but in those instances you were able to pay a small fine and get released.
This time is different though and you know it. As the officer is taking your booking information, you realize you are going to spend a year of your life in jail before you get to prove your innocence. You start to lose hope. As you’re sitting in the station you notice there are only a few officers in the station house, all of whom are distracted by the changing of the shift. The officer who arrested you failed to secure you to an immovable object. You have been to the station often enough to know the door leading outside is just a flight of stairs down from the room you are in. You know the area well-enough to know that once you’re outside, you could disappear into the crowds of people downtown who are always milling around.
As the arresting officer has his back turned, you see your moment, you’re about to go for it. Before you do, don’t!
What Is Texas Felony Escape?
The crime of escape can actually be treated more seriously than the charge a defendant escapes from. In Texas, an adult can be charged for escape if they flee while under arrest, while lawfully detained for, charged with, or convicted of an offense, or if while in custody pursuant to a lawful order.
Though some might argue that juveniles can’t possibly understand the seriousness of escaping from custody, even juveniles can be charged with escape if they flee while lawfully in the custody of a juvenile probation officer holding them for violating a court order or while lawfully detained in a secure juvenile detention facility.
How Serious Is The Crime Of Escape?
Escape is treated very seriously, no matter how minor the initial charge may have been. Though there are a few limited circumstances where the crime of escape can be treated as a misdemeanor, those circumstances are the exception and not the rule. The crime of escape is almost always a felony.
Escape from custody as a result of a felony charge or escape from any secure correctional facility is a third degree felony which carries 2 to 10 years in prison. If any injury is caused during the course of the escape, the crime is increased to a second degree felony and the penalty can be as much as 20 years in prison. If a serious injury or death is caused during the course of the escape, or if a weapon is used or threatened to be used, then the crime is increased even higher to a first degree felony, which carries 5 to 99 years or even life in prison.
In addition to being charged with an additional crime, the escape then becomes evidence in the trial for the charge you were originally arrested. This concept is referred to as ‘flight evidence.’ The prosecutor is allowed to argue to the jury that your escape or flight is indicative of guilt. The argument is basically, if you were truly innocent, you wouldn’t run. Though the defense can try to counter that argument, it is an argument that most juries find rather persuasive.
Can Escape Be Charged Even If You Didn’t Actually Escape From Custody?
Though you may think it is impossible to escape from prison or jail, escapes of that nature do occasionally occur. Also, as shown from our above example, escape can be charged for more than just breaking out of prison. The crime of escape is broader than most people realize.
For instance, often those convicted of Driving Under the Influence or of a Domestic Violence offense will be sentenced to spend a weekend in jail. As DUI and DV offenses are the type of crimes that are most often repeated by a defendant, the weekend in jail for a first or second offense is ordered in the hopes of deterring recidivism. So, imagine that after Thanksgiving dinner, a defendant gets pulled over for a DUI. At first appearance, the defendant decides to enter a plea and is ordered to spend a weekend in jail. However, given the holidays the judge allows the defendant to wait a month to serve his weekend so that the defendant can spend the holiday season with his family. The judge is, of course, trying to be kind. Unfortunately, a lot can happen in a month and when the designated weekend arrives, the defendant forgets to turn himself into the jail. The defendant in this example can, in fact, be charged with the very serious crime of felony escape. Therefore it is vital that anyone who has been ordered to spend a weekend in jail always show up early and comply with whatever orders the judge may have imposed at the time of sentencing.
Most escapes are not successful, and those who do get away, rarely are able to hide forever. No one wants to be accused of a crime they didn’t commit. If you have been, make sure you hire an advocate who understands the importance of quickly getting you a hearing so that a reasonable bond can be set. We will work tirelessly on your case so that you do not consider options which would make your own case, and your own life, worse. Escape is not a viable option, not for you, not for your family. Call us instead.