Texas is the only state that has a specific “Deadly Conduct” law. Deadly conduct occurs when someone engages in conduct that they know or should know will place someone else at risk of suffering bodily harm. In Texas, this offense can be charged as either a misdemeanor or a felony depending on circumstances.
For example: If you point a gun at someone, you can be charged with deadly conduct in Texas even if you never fired a weapon or intended to fire it. The fact that you intentionally pointed a gun, and that you knew or should have known that pointing a gun poses a danger to someone else, is enough to be charged with a misdemeanor offense of deadly conduct. Whether your gun is loaded or not is irrelevant. What matters is that you pointed the weapon at others.
What Constitutes Deadly Conduct?
In Texas, a person engages in deadly conduct if they point a weapon or fire a weapon in the direction of another person or if they fire a weapon at a home, vehicle, building or other structure without knowing or investigating whether the building is occupied. The buildings or vehicles do not need to be occupied at the time that they are fired upon, but merely that they are capable of housing or transporting people.
Under Texas Penal Code Sec. 22.05, the law specifically states that a person commits this offense if he or she:
a) recklessly engages in conduct that puts someone in imminent danger of serious bodily injury; or
b) knowingly discharges a firearm at or in the direction of
(1) one or more individuals; or
(2) a habitation, building or vehicle or is reckless as to whether the habitation, building or vehicle is occupied.
Is there an “Intent” Requirement?
When it comes to deadly conduct, it is important that a person acted intentionally, but not necessarily with the intent to cause harm.
- For example: If you are hunting and you accidentally fall, causing your rifle to fire, this will not be enough to be charged with deadly conduct.
- On the other hand: If you are hunting and then you decide to fire at a building you just came across, without checking if anyone else is inside, then you’ve committed an act of deadly conduct. It is important to note that a person may not intend to hurt someone, however, if they are indifferent to the safety of others when using their weapon, then they would have engaged in deadly conduct.
What is the Punishment for Deadly Conduct?
Deadly conduct can be classified as either a Class A misdemeanor or a third-degree felony depending on the facts and circumstances. Deadly conduct is a Class A misdemeanor unless a firearm is discharged in which case it is elevated it to a third-degree felony.
- Fines: A Class A misdemeanor offense in Texas has a potential fine of up to $4,000, while felonies can have fines of up to $10,000.
- Jail: Convictions for a Class A misdemeanor offense can result in up to a year in a county jail, while a third-degree felony offense in Texas is punishable by 2 to 10 years in prison. Jail sentences can be imposed in addition to fines or they can be given as a separate punishment.
- Probation: Probation sentences usually last at least 12 months, but there is a possibility for an even longer probation sentence of 24 months, 36 months or even longer. The court will require a person on probation to comply with a wide range of probation conditions such as reporting to a probation officer, allowing the officer to search your home or vehicle upon demand, not possessing firearms and not committing more crimes. Violation of probation can result in additional penalties, such as increased fines or having to serve the remainder of the sentence in jail.
Contact Fort Worth Deadly Conduct Attorney Today
If you are accused of using a weapon in a threatening manner, it’s important that you contact an experienced Fort Worth deadly conduct lawyer. We can help answer your questions, explain the potential consequences, and work to protect your rights. Our lawyers are skilled at handling these types of case and will work to build the strongest defense possible. Call us today for a free consultation and check out our results.