The blog from Leo & Oginni, Houston's Personal Injury and Trial Lawyers, covers a wide range of topics involving Texas law on car accidents, criminal cases, and more. Know what to do if you have sustained injury or a criminal charge by reading here.
What is Interference With Public Duties in Texas?
What Is Interference With Public Duties?
In its most basic form, the charge of Interference With Public Duties (38.15 of the Texas Penal Code)means that you have been accused of doing something to prevent a police officer, firefighter, EMS, or others from doing their job. The Texas Penal Code describes Interference With Public Duties as:
Sec. 38.15. INTERFERENCE WITH PUBLIC DUTIES. (a) A person commits an offense if the person with criminal negligence interrupts, disrupts, impedes, or otherwise interferes with:
- a peace officer while the peace officer is performing a duty or exercising authority imposed or granted by law;
- a person who is employed to provide emergency medical services including the transportation of ill or injured persons while the person is performing that duty;
- a firefighter, while the firefighter is fighting a fire or investigating the cause of a fire;
- an animal under the supervision of a peace officer, corrections officer, or jailer, if the person knows the animal is being used for law enforcement, corrections, prison or jail security, or investigative purposes;
How Do You Get An Interference With Public Duties Charge?
The easiest way to get an interference with public duties charge is to NOT do what a police officer tells you to do during a traffic stop. Not doing what an officer tells you may not rise to the level of resisting arrest, but this charge, interference with public duties, allows officers to charge you for making their job harder. Another example of interference with public duties is trying to distract a drug sniffing dog by offering the dog bacon or a hotdog.
Here is an example of how a traffic stop can escalate to an interference with public duties charge. One day you are on your way home from work and are pulled over by police because officers say you were texting and driving. You were not texting and believe you were pulled over because officers simply think you look like a person who might be up to no good. During the traffic stop you give your license and insurance to the officer, but make sure the officers understand your unhappiness with being pulled over (read; you cuss, call them names, ask for badge numbers, and demand a Sergeant come to the scene). Until this point, nobody has asked you to get out of the car and officers won’t give a detailed explanation of why you were stopped.
Now, the Sergeant arrives… The Sergeant approaches your driver-side door, sniffs the air a couple of times, and says the magic words, “I smell the odor of marijuana coming from your car, step out of the vehicle.” This is the point where things change from a texting and driving ticket into an arrest and a trip to jail.
Since you know the officer is not being truthful, because there is no marijuana (or anything illegal) in the car AND you were not smoking marijuana, you become more irritated with the situation and the officers. You tell the officers you will not get out of the car because they are lying about the odor of marijuana. Officers then use a window punch and break the passenger window of your vehicle and drag you through the window to get you out of the car.
Officers search your car and, of course, NOTHING is found. However, you are now under arrest for interference with public duties because you did not get out of the car when officers told you to.
What Should I do If I Am Charged With Interference With Public Duties?
As soon as you are arrested, as always, SHUT THE “F” UP! You need to contact a criminal defense lawyer to advise and help your situation. Interference with public duties is a Class B misdemeanor that will likely qualify for Pre-Trial Intervention programs so you don’t get a conviction on your record.
Attorneys at Leo & Oginni Trial Lawyers will speak to prosecutors and tell your side of the story to try to obtain a dismissal. If the facts are not on your side, John Leo and George Oginni will next try and negotiate to get into a program that will lead to dismissed charges. If all else fails, we stand ready to go to trial and defend your rights in court.
If you or a loved one has been arrested for Interference With Public Duties, visit us online at www.helpishere.law just give us a call at (713) 280-3204. Let the Criminal Defense Attorneys at Leo & Oginni Trial Lawyers evaluate your case for FREE! We will let you know how we can help and guide you through the process of defending your rights.