Texas Governor Rick Perry, a possible Republican presidential candidate in the 2016 race, turned himself in to authorities for fingerprinting and a mug shot on Tuesday after being indicted last week on two felony charges of abusing power.
"I am going to fight this injustice with every fiber of my being," Perry said before he entered the criminal justice centre in Travis County, a short walk from the statehouse.
Supporters turned out to cheer his words while his opponents relished seeing him facing a criminal court.
The indictment has cast a shadow over a presidential run for Perry, who has ranked near the bottom of possible Republican candidates.
Experts predict that legal wrangling in the case is likely to stretch into the 2016 election cycle.
Perry was indicted on Friday by a grand jury in Travis County, a Democratic stronghold in the heavily Republican state, over his veto of funding for a state ethics watchdog that has investigated prominent Texas Republicans.
He has called the indictment politically motivated.
Perry will step down as governor when his term ends early next year.
Perry, the longest-serving governor in the state's history, became the target of an ethics probe last year after he vetoed $7.5m in funding for the state public integrity unit run from the Travis County district attorney's office.
The veto was widely viewed as intended to force the resignation of county District Attorney Rosemary Lehmberg, a Democrat, after she had pleaded guilty to drunken driving but remained in office.
Democrats have said Perry may have been looking to put an ally in charge of the unit, extending what they say is cronyism in his administration.
The more serious of the two felony charges carries a prison sentence of five to 99 years.
Perry could try to rally support in Republican primaries by portraying himself as a conservative victim of a partisan legal attack launched by Democrats, analysts have said.
But the indictment could undermine backing from major donors and party heavyweights who see the legal case as hurting his general election chances.
After flaming out in a gaffe-strewn campaign for the 2012 Republican presidential nomination, Perry has been attempting a political comeback that gained him national attention for accusing President Barack Obama of doing too little to secure the US-Mexico border.