Interference with Public Duties is regularly charged in the Houston area. You can be charged with Interference with Public Duties if the police believe you interfered with the duties of a first responder, such as police officer or emergency personnel, or in a handful of other similar situations. Although this crime is a misdemeanor in Texas, it is still very important to do everything possible to get the case dismissed and keep a conviction off or your record.
Under Texas Penal Code 38.15, you can be charged if you interrupt, disrupt, impede or interfere with a peace officer while the peace officer is performing a duty, emergency medical personnel engaged in official duties, a firefighter engaged in fighting a fire or investigating the cause of a fire, a police dog being used for official purposes, certain radio communications, or other officials involved in public health and related work. Under the statute, you can be charged by acting with criminal negligence (unlike most criminal offenses, which require that a person act intentionally). Interference with Public Duties is a Class “B” misdemeanor punishable by up to 180 days in jail and a $2000 fine.
In Interference with Public Duties cases, the conduct of the defendant and the commands or instructions given by the person claiming to exercise a public duty, will often be critical to evaluating whether an offense has been committed. For example, in a Texas case, a man was charged with Interference with Public Duties for allegedly providing assistance to victims of an accident after a police officer ordered him to get back and stay in his vehicle. This was held to be enough to arrest the man and charge him with Interference with Public Duties.
Many officers mistakenly believe that a person can be charged for simply arguing with or raising his voice at officers, but this is not accurate. For example, in another Texas case, a woman was yelling and screaming at police officers who were attempting to execute a search warrant and the police arrested the woman for Interference With Public Duties. A court later held that simply yelling at an officer is not enough to violate the statute. In fact, under Texas Penal Code 38.15 it is a defense to prosecution that the interruption, disruption, impediment or interference consisted of speech only.
How to Get an Interference with Public Duties Case Dismissed
If you are charged, your attorney will need to obtain all of the evidence in the case. Depending on the nature of the allegation, this will usually consist of a police report and body cameras. As noted above, the strength of an Interference With Public Duties charge will come down to what the officer claims a defendant was doing to interfere. Very often, the allegation will be that a defendant did not obey commands to stop doing something the officer claimed was making it more difficult or unsafe to do his job. In the Houston area, many Interference With Public Duties cases are dismissed because the officers mischaracterized the situation, the defendant’s behavior, and mainly arrested a person for being less respectful than they thought the defendant should be. Whenever possible, it is the job of a criminal defense attorney that you should not have been arrested and charged in the first place.
Even if it appears that the elements of the offense are present, it may still be possible for your criminal defense attorney to negotiate a dismissal of the charges against you upon completion of a class, or through a pre-trial intervention. On occasion, these cases will also result in jury trials. Whatever your situation, it is critical that you hire an experienced criminal defense attorney to help you evaluate your case and fight to clear your name. As in all criminal cases, the goal is to get your case dismissed or to obtain an acquittal of a trial so that you can obtain an expunction of the charge against you. Because an expunction results in the destruction of all records of your Interference With a Public Duties case, it is generally considered to be the best result in a criminal case.
If you are charged with Interference With Public Duties anywhere in the Greater Houston area, call Ceja Law Firm today to schedule a free consultation.