The crime of Retaliation or Obstruction in Texas establishes a crime to threaten or harm a police officer, emergency medical technician or other public servant (or a member of their family) in retaliation for them administering their responsibilities as a public servant. For example, if someone threatens to harm a police officer or a member of their family if they are arrested for a DWI, this could constitute a crime under Texas law.
If you are facing charges of obstruction or retaliation or have been arrested or are under investigation for this crime, it is essential to hire the best Fort Worth criminal defense attorney with a proven track record of obtaining favorable results for their clients in the courts of Tarrant County, Texas.
Whether you are being falsely accused of this crime or made a mistake by acting out of anger or frustration, a conviction of this crime can be devastating, resulting in harsh monetary fines, loss of employment and extended jail time.
Innocent people have been convicted of obstruction or retaliation, so having an experienced attorney by your side can mean the difference between jail time and your freedom. Call the Fulgham Law Firm, P.C. now to start protecting yourself and your constitutional rights.
What Should You Do If A Criminal Detective Has Called You?
Should investigators contact you with questions about your charges, do not make any statements without having a Fort Worth obstruction or retaliation defense attorney present. As most people are aware, anything you say can and will be used against you in a court of law. By choosing to speak to a detective, you put yourself at serious risk of your innocent statements being misinterpreted or manipulated to appear as a confession. Your statements can be used to establish probable cause sufficient to lead to an arrest and criminal charges.
However, if you hire a criminal attorney to reach out to the detective and do the talking for you, you avoid the risk of sharing information and having it used against you. When your criminal lawyer contacts the investigator, all statements made by your attorney are considered hearsay by the court and cannot be used against you in a criminal trial.
A criminal attorney experienced in handling retaliation and obstruction charges will be able to review your legal options, advise you of your rights, and help you to proceed in your case with the most solid and effective defense strategies possible. Regardless of the circumstances, do not sacrifice your rights – contact the Fulgham Law Firm, P.C. today to learn more about how our attorneys can make a difference for you.
Obstruction or Retaliation Cases in Fort Worth
Pursuant to the Texas Penal Code § 36.06 entitled “Obstruction or Retaliation,” the law provides in pertinent part that: “(a) [a] person commits an offense if he intentionally or knowingly harms or threatens to harm another by an unlawful act:
- in retaliation for or on account of the service or status of another as a:
- public servant, witness, prospective witness, or informant; or
- person who has reported or who the actor knows intends to report the occurrence of a crime, or,
- to prevent or delay the service of another as a:
- public servant, witness, prospective witness, or informant; or
- person who has reported or who the actor knows intends to report the occurrence of a crime.”
What Is The Difference Between Obstruction and Retaliation?
In order to determine which definition of the crime occurred, you must examine when the harm or threat took place. Obstruction always involves the accused making a threat of harm or harm to the public servant or witness BEFORE the crime has been reported or action has been taken by the police officer. In fact, in order to prove the crime of obstruction, the prosecutor must show that an act was taken by the accused in an effort to delay or prevent a witness or a public servant from taking action of some sort.
If a witness observes a crime and the accused threatens the witness to hurt them or a family member if they report the crime to the police or give a statement, this would be a strong example of the crime of obstruction under Texas law.
Retaliation, on the other hand, is harm or a threat of harm to a witness or public servant because they have reported a crime or followed their duties as a public servant. If a police officer were threatened with harm if he testifies or seeks a warrant after an investigation, this would be a good example of the crime of retaliation under Texas law.
Legal Consequences and Punishment for Retaliation or Obstruction Charges In Texas
In the majority of obstruction or retaliation cases, the actions giving rise to the alleged crime constitute a third-degree felony. This means that an alleged wrongdoer can face between two to ten years imprisonment in a Texas state penitentiary. Fines imposed for felonies of a third degree typically are $10,000 or less.
However, if you are being accused of committing retaliation or obstruction against a juror, the offense is elevated to a second-degree felony, meaning, jail time imposed can be anywhere between two and twenty years, and you can also be forced to pay up to $10,000 in monetary fines.
Is Jail Time Required?
No. If you are a first-time offender, an experienced criminal defense attorney can many times negotiate a resolution to your case that will protect you from criminal conviction and jail time. However, if you have been previously convicted for a felony, your criminal lawyer may have a more challenging time avoiding a conviction with jail time. This emphasizes the importance behind hiring a criminal defense law firm with the experience and track record of being able to protect you from jail time and a conviction.
Even under a situation where the prosecutor may be able to prove the elements of the crime beyond a reasonable doubt, your criminal attorney may be able to negotiate a probation to avoid jail time. Ideally, you want to receive a deferred adjudication probation rather than straight probation.
Straight probation is a type of probation that involves being convicted for the crime and the judge probates the prison sentence for certain number of years. For felony cases, the probation can range from two years to ten years. For misdemeanor cases, the maximum amount of time on probation is two years. As part of probation, the court may require you to complete community service, drug testing, counseling and/or classes.
Legal Defenses To Obstruction Or Retaliation Charges
There are several legal defenses that can be raised on behalf of a person charged with obstruction or retaliation, especially if the actions were committed without knowledge or intent.
State of Texas Fails To Prove Criminal Intent
A critical element that must be proven beyond a reasonable doubt by the prosecutor is that the harm or threat of harm made to the witness or public servant must have been made been intentionally or knowingly. What if the statement or alleged threat was made when others were present, and it is arguable as to whether the comment was directed to the alleged victim?
We have seen clients being roughed up by a police officer become overwhelmed with pain and anger and say something to the officer as they are being arrested. Did the client make this statement intentionally or knowingly? Or was the statement made as a response to being treated unfairly by the police officer? Mistaken or accidental statements are not sufficient to prove the crime.
Allegations Of Threat Can Not Be Proven
In order for the State of Texas to prove the crime of retaliation or obstruction, they must show that harm was done, or a credible threat of harm was made to the public servant or witness. What is a “threat?” It is critical for your criminal lawyer to analyze the specific comments being relied upon by the State of Texas to determine if they constitute a threat under the law. Statements that are made that lack specificity regarding the alleged threat can be used by your criminal defense attorney to argue reasonable doubt regarding the charge.
There may also be certain mitigating factors involved, which your attorney can discuss with you during your initial consultation. To learn more about how you can challenge your obstruction or retaliation charges, contact our seasoned team of criminal defense lawyers today.
Never represent yourself, as we have the experience, skill, and dedication to help fight for your rights and potentially have your charges reduced, if not dropped completely. While we cannot guarantee a certain outcome in your case, we will take all measures legally possible to maximize your chances of receiving a positive outcome.
The Fulgham Law Firm is a team of experienced and aggressive criminal defense attorneys with over 80 years of combined criminal law experienced and over five hundred criminal jury trial in the courts of Fort Worth, Tarrant County, and other courts in North Texas.
Call us right now to get help.
We have helped hundreds of people in Texas, and we can help you too. We will set you up with a free conversation with Mr. Fulgham which will help you know what to do next. The Fulgham Law Firm serves Fort Worth and Tarrant county areas.