Have you been arrested and charged with the crime of Deadly Conduct in Tarrant County, Texas? If so, your number one priority should be to retain an experienced and aggressive criminal defense attorney with a proven record of resolving deadly conduct charges favorably for their clients.
What can the consequences be of a deadly conduct conviction in Texas? A deadly conduct conviction in the state of Texas has the ability to stymie your career, restrict your future legal rights, and impede your liberty. If you were arrested for deadly conduct in Fort Worth, you need to contact an experienced deadly conduct defense attorney as soon as possible. While the prosecutor builds a case against you, your criminal defense lawyer can work to undermine the evidence and present a cogent defense.
We have assisted countless Forth Worth clients with fighting unfounded or unfortunate deadly conduct charges. As such, the Fulgham Law Firm has dedicated our full attention to each individual case, providing all clients with personalized representation and one-on-one contact. While some criminal attorneys may take your money and disappear until your next court date, the Fulgham Law Firm will keep you well informed and actively involved in making key decisions regarding the case.
The goal of representation should be to provide you with competent, comprehensive, and zealous advocacy both inside and outside of the courtroom. Our team of criminal defense attorneys always seek to fully explain charges, diligently negotiate plea options and diversion offers with the prosecutors, independently investigate allegations, fight for our clients’ constitutional rights by scrutinizing each case for 4th, 5th, and 6th Amendment violations, craft strong defense strategies and theories, and always zealously pursue our clients’ best interests. To schedule a free consultation with the Fulgham Law Firm, call today at (817) 886-3078 to discuss your Tarrant County deadly conduct case.
Definition of Deadly Conduct
Deadly conduct is a violent criminal offense that is defined in the Texas Penal Code §22.05 as occurring when someone either:
- Recklessly places another person in immediate danger of serious bodily harm, or
- Knowingly shoots a gun at or towards a person or potentially occupied home, building or vehicle.
Deadly conduct does not require actual injury. If a weapon is fired in the direction of someone in a reckless manner, you can be charged with felony deadly conduct. For example, simply firing a gun in the direction of someone’s apartment door satisfies the statute. Deadly conduct also encompasses violence not involving firearms.
What Does “Reckless” Mean Under Texas Criminal Law?
Recklessness is an extreme form of carelessness and disregard. When an individual’s extreme carelessness and complete disregard for safety results in an imminent threat of serious bodily injury or death, deadly conduct has occurred. Put in layman’s terms, any reckless conduct that may cause death or serious bodily injury can qualify as deadly conduct.
Penalties And Punishments For Deadly Conduct in Texas
Deadly conduct without the use of a firearm is a Class A misdemeanor punishable by up to one year in county jail and/or up to $4,000 in fines. Deadly conduct involving the discharge of a weapon is a third-degree felony punishable by up to 10 years in state prison and up to $10,000 in fines.
Legal Defenses To Deadly Conduct Charges In Texas
If you are facing a misdemeanor or felony deadly conduct charge in Texas, it is critical that you understand what the State of Texas must prove beyond a reasonable doubt and also be familiar with the legal defenses available to you and your criminal attorney.
Lack of Criminal Intent: Mistake or Accident
Deadly Conduct charges differ from many other violent crimes in Texas because there is no requirement that the accused must have intent to harm the alleged victim. In fact, the State of Texas must only prove that the accused had the intent complete the action necessary to create deadly conduct (fire the gun or other action). In other words, the prosecutor is not required to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the accused had the intent to cause actual harm to the alleged victim.
That being said, the actions by the accused MUST be considered “reckless.” As we examined above, to act “reckless” requires a showing by the State of Texas that the accused acted with extreme carelessness and disregard to the alleged victim. However, what if action alleged to have caused deadly conduct was accidental or a mistake?
For example: we have seen clients charged with felony deadly conduct for possessing a gun that accidentally discharged. We represented a client that was unloading a handgun and the gun went off and went through the wall and scared someone sitting in the other room. The police arrested our client for the felony crime of deadly conduct. However, can the prosecutor prove that the client acted recklessly? What if he negligently unloaded the weapon? What if it was an accident and not reckless conduct? Remember, the prosecutor has the burden to prove this element of the crime. In this situation, we were able to present an evidence packet to the grand jury and convinced them that the appropriate charge would be a lesser misdemeanor offense of discharge of a firearm in a municipality. The dropping of the felony charge to a misdemeanor provided our client the opportunity to negotiate a conditional dismissal of his charges so that he would be eligible to have his arrest and charges expunged from his criminal record.
Unable To Prove Actions Could Have Caused Serious Bodily Injury
In order to sustain a conviction for deadly conduct in Texas, the prosecutor will be required to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the accused acted in a reckless manner that placed the alleged victim in immediate danger of serious bodily injury.
What does “serious bodily injury” mean under Texas law? In order to prove serious bodily injury, the prosecutor will have to show that the actions of the accused placed the alleged victim in fear of serious bodily injury or death. Serious bodily injury is defined as a substantial risk of death, permanent or protracted loss of use of a bodily member or organ. Serious bodily injury can also include permanent disfigurement or impairment of someone’s use of their arms or legs, etc.
Now, what if the action by the accused could not have factually created the harm that the alleged victim claimed to be in fear of? For example, if someone acted in a manner that could NOT have caused the harm that was feared, your criminal defense attorney should attack this element to provide you leverage in negotiations. One example of this is the client we described above. He accidentally fired the weapon, and the alleged victim was in the other room. Did the client have any idea what actually happened other than a gun going off? Did they have any reason to believe that the firing of the gun was directed at them or would have caused serious bodily injury? Another good example would be someone seeing a gun being fired but it was not pointed in their direction and no comments or behavior was directed toward them to make a reasonable person believe they were under threat of serious bodily injury or death. Remember, the behavior must objectively place the alleged victim in fear of serious bodily injury or death.
Grand Jury Presentations By Your Criminal Defense Attorney
Finally, what if your felony deadly conduct case has valid legal defenses that can exonerate you? Your criminal attorney should make it a priority to prepare a grand jury evidence packet for presentation.
Under Texas criminal law, every felony in Texas must be indicted by a grand jury. A grand jury usually only hears the police and prosecutor’s side of the case because most criminal defense lawyers do not take the time and effort necessary to present an effective grand jury evidence packet. However, the best criminal defense attorneys in Fort Worth, Texas know that if you prepare an evidence packet showing the weaknesses of the case and the valid legal defenses that apply, the grand jury could dismiss the charge.
More specifically, the grand jury has several options regarding what they can do with a felony charge: (1) they can “true bill” the charge, resulting in the case being approved as a felony and assigned to a Tarrant County District Court for a setting; (2) lower the charge from a felony to a misdemeanor charge and setting it with a Tarrant County Criminal Court for a misdemeanor court setting; (3) Reject the charge by issuing a no bill of the case. A No Bill is a finding that exonerates the client of wrongdoing and provides eligibility for an expunction of all arrest and case records upon completion of the statute of limitations.
It is critical that you are working with an experienced and aggressive criminal lawyer that has a reputation for working cases at the grand jury level and obtaining results for their clients. Failure to present evidence to the grand jury could cause you to miss the quickest way to prove your innocence and have your deadly conduct charges dismissed.
Why You Should Hire the Fulgham Law Firm
The Texas criminal system provides a mechanism for all individuals struggling financially to obtain free or low-cost attorneys. If your income is below a certain threshold, Tarrant County will connect you with a public defender. Many individuals are required to make payments to the court for these services. Public defenders are commonly overworked, overstressed, and poorly motivated and have little access to resources. While these types of defense lawyers may appear cheap, their often-times faulty representation can be one of the costliest mistakes you make.
On the other hand, a privately retained criminal defense attorney has the luxury of managing his caseload, selecting which cases to represent, and accessing unlimited resources. I worked as an Assistant District Attorney for several years and can use my insider knowledge into how the prosecution investigates and prepares cases and evaluates evidence to anticipate the prosecutor’s next moves. In addition, I have dedicated my entire career to criminal justice. Criminal law and helping clients fight for their rights are my two main prerogatives.
However, you do not have to rely upon my expertise and experience alone. If you partner with the Fulgham Law Firm, you will have the opportunity to collaborate with a team of Former Tarrant County prosecutors with over 80 years of criminal law experienced and over five hundred criminal jury trials. The Tarrant County prosecutor’s office will have a team of lawyers prosecuting you. Don’t you deserve a team of proven criminal defense attorneys to defend your freedom and future? To schedule a free appointment to discover how the Fulgham Law Firm can assist you with protecting your rights and defending against deadly conduct charges, call (817) 886-3078 today.
Contact our fort worth criminal lawyer for a free, no-strings-attached, confidential consultation with an experienced criminal defense attorney in the Fort Worth and Tarrant county area. Our criminal defense attorney will help you fight for your rights and assist you in making informed decisions about your case. Contact us today to learn more! We manage cases in Tarrant County and surrounding cities: Fort Worth, Arlington, Grand Prairie, Mansfield, Kennedale, Everman, Benbrook, Lake Worth, Azle, River Oaks, Burleson, Blue Mound, Crowley, Saginaw, White Settlement, Hurst, Euless, Bedford, Keller, Colleyville, Grapevine, Southlake, Watauga, Richland Hills, North Richland Hills, Westlake, Pantego, Dalworthington Gardens, Haltom City, Weatherford, Aledo, Cleburne, Granbury, Decatur.
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