Disorderly Conduct Attorney
PUBLIC CONDUCT LAWYER: HOUSTON & GALVESTON, TX
Overview of Disorderly Conduct in Texas
In Texas, disorderly and deadly conduct can be brought as a Class C misdemeanor all the way up to a First-Degree felony. This article will provide an overview of these charges so that if you or someone you love has been charged with a disorderly or deadly conduct offense, you’ll better understand potential outcomes and why you need a disorderly conduct attorney in Houston, Texas.
What is Considered Disorderly Conduct in Texas?
In Texas, a person commits disorderly conduct by intentionally or knowingly using abusive language in public tending to incite an immediate breach of peace, making an offensive gesture in public tending to incite an immediate breach of peace, chemically creating a noxious and unreasonable odor in public, abusing or threatening a person in public in an obviously offensive manner, making unreasonable noise in public (other than a sports shooting range or in or near a private residence), fighting with another in public, discharging a firearm on or across a public road, exposing private parts in public recklessly about whether another may be present, or for a lewd or improper purpose entering the property of another and peering through their window or while in a hotel looking into a guest room or while in public, looking into a private restroom, shower stall, or changing room. Any of these activities constitutes disorderly conduct that is charged as a Class C misdemeanor carrying a maximum fine of up to $500.
However, disorderly conduct can also be charged as a Class B misdemeanor carrying a potential sentence of up to 180 days in jail and a fine of up to $2,000. To be charged with a Class B misdemeanor for disorderly conduct, an individual must have knowingly or intentionally discharged a firearm in a public place other than a public road or a sport shooting range, or displayed a firearm or other deadly weapon in a public place in a manner calculated to alarm.
What is Considered Deadly Conduct in Texas?
In Texas, a person commits deadly conduct if they recklessly engage in conduct that places another in imminent danger of serious bodily injury or if they knowingly discharge a firearm at or in the direction of one or more individuals, or a habitation, building, or vehicle and are reckless as to whether the property is occupied. Deadly conduct can be charged as a Class A misdemeanor punishable by up to a year in jail and a fine of up to $4,000 or a Third-Degree Felony punishable by 2 – 10 years in prison with a fine of up to $10,000 depending on the circumstances.
What Other Offenses are Against Public Order and Decency in Texas?
Other offenses that an individual can be charged with in Texas for being against public order and decency include but are not limited to obstructing a highway or other passageway, disrupting a meeting or procession, causing a false alarm or making a false report, abusing 911 by staying silent or making harassing statements, interfering with an emergency request for assistance, engaging in harassment or stalking, abusing a corpse, being cruel to livestock animals, attacking an assistance animal, causing an animal to participate in dog or cockfighting, destroying a U.S. or Texas flag, discharging a firearm in municipalities of 100,000 or more, and using a laser pointer at a uniformed safety officer. These offenses can be charged as low as a Class C misdemeanor carrying a maximum fine of $500 all the way up to a First-Degree felony carrying a potential sentence of 5 to 99 years in prison and a fine of up to $10,000, depending on the circumstances.
What are the most common types of Disorderly Conduct in Texas?
In Texas, individuals faced 5,935 disorderly conduct charges in 2020. The Texas Department of Public Safety classifies disorderly conduct offenses as any behavior that tends to disturb the public or decorum, scandalize the community, or shock the public sense of morality.
What is the range of punishment for Disorderly Conduct in Texas?
As you can see, disorderly and deadly conduct charges can range from a Class C misdemeanor to a First-Degree Felony, depending on the severity of the conduct alleged, the status of the victim, the harm caused, and the circumstances surrounding the incident. A Class C misdemeanor is a fine-only offense, whereas a First-Degree Felony carries a potential sentence of 5 to 99 years in prison. However, with the help of an experienced disorderly conduct attorney, you may be able to prove an affirmative defense depending on the crime you’ve been charged with, meaning there would be no punishment. Even if you have committed an offense, it is still beneficial to meet with an attorney to discuss the options that may be available in your case to help avoid jail time or a lengthy sentence.
What are the Defenses to a Disorderly Conduct Charge in Texas?
Defense strategies can include attacking the prosecutor’s case-in-chief by arguing that the prosecution lacks proof to prove their case beyond a reasonable doubt. This can be done by proving a lack of evidence or contradictory evidence. In cases of disorderly or deadly conduct charges, this can be done by proving the prosecutor lacks evidence of mental culpability or reasonableness, which is required for some charges. Alternatively, a defendant could plead an affirmative defense, admitting the conduct, and providing a legal justification. In cases of disorderly conduct, self-defense, defense of others, and consent may be appropriate defenses depending on the circumstances.
Justification excluding criminal responsibility (self-defense)
In Texas, an individual can be justified in using force and deadly force to defend themselves and others. If these defenses are successful, a defendant can be absolved of criminal liability relating to an offense. A person is justified in using force against another as they reasonably believe it is immediately necessary to protect themselves or others against the use or attempted use of unlawful force. However, to be justified in using deadly force, an individual must reasonably believe that deadly force is immediately necessary to protect themselves or others from the use or attempted use of unlawful deadly force, or to prevent the imminent commission of aggravated kidnapping, murder, sexual assault, aggravated sexual assault, robbery, or aggravated robbery.
Some situations create a legal presumption that the use of force or deadly force is necessary. However, there are also enumerated activities that dictate situations where force is not appropriate such as in response to verbal provocation alone, to resist arrest or search even when such arrest or search is unlawful unless an exception applies, when you’ve consented to or provoked the force, or when you’ve approached someone to discuss differences while armed in violation of Texas Penal Code Section 46.02 or Section 46.05.
Finally, under both the federal and Texas constitution, individuals have the right to freedom of speech, meaning that the government cannot criminalize perfectly legitimate speech, including profane or vulgar terms. Many of the disorderly conduct offenses require the government to prove the use of fighting words; however, merely offensive language does not always rise to words that will have the imminent effect of breaching the peace. An experienced disorderly conduct attorney might argue your language was permissible under the first amendment protecting you from being criminally charged.
How do you Beat a Disorderly Conduct Charge in Texas – Hire a Disorderly Conduct Attorney in Houston, TX Today
Consult with a disorderly conduct attorney right away. Disorderly conduct and deadly conduct charges can have a significant impact on your life, livelihood, and freedom. The attorneys at Walker & Taylor will provide experienced legal representation to help fight the charges. Contact the firm for a free case evaluation by calling (281) 668-9957 today!
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