In Texas, it is illegal to interfere with the work of law enforcement, first responders, and even police dogs while they are performing official duties. This offense is called “interference with public duties” and is commonly used to arrest individuals who insert themselves into police activities or video law enforcement.
Locally, “cop watchers” have gotten in trouble – and have even been convicted – when their act of recording the police rose to the level of interfering. But how do you know when you’ve crossed the line – or when an officer is out of line? Here’s a look at the law on interference with police and other public duties and possible defenses.
Under Texas Penal Code 38.15, a person commits the offense of Interference with Public Duties if the person, with criminal negligence, interrupts, disrupts, impedes or otherwise interferes with:
Yes. There are two defenses to interference with public duties, which are outlined in the Texas Penal Code. Specifically, it is not against the law to:
Citizens have a Constitutional right to publicly record police activity, as long as it does not interfere with officers’ duties. Problem is, many officers frown on so-called “cop watching” or videoing law enforcement and sometimes citizens get too close to the action. This can make for a volatile situation and can often result in an arrest. The charge may not stick, but it is an inconvenience nonetheless and may cost time and money to fight. If you record the police, do so from a distance and be respectful.
Interfering with Public Duties is a Class B Misdemeanor punishable by a maximum of six months in jail and up to a $2,000 fine. Probation or deferred adjudication may be options for individuals charged with interfering with public duties.
If you or a loved one is facing charges stemming from allegations of interfering with public duties, you will need an experienced attorney to thoroughly evaluate your case, guide you through the process, and aggressively fight on your behalf. At the law firm of Varghese Summersett, our criminal defense attorneys have extensive experience handling all types of criminal cases, ranging from DWI to murder. We have a proven track record and have successfully defended people accused of interfering with public duties, including a client who was acquitted of the charge during a jury trial in Fort Worth in Tarrant County.
If you or a loved one is facing charges of interfering with police duties in Fort Worth or the surrounding area, call us today for a complimentary strategy session. During this call we will:
Call: (817) 203-2220