Obstruction or Retaliation in the State of Texas By Jason Trumpler, P.C. on October 10, 2017

Obstruction or Retaliation Lawyer in Austin, Texas

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The Texas Penal Code defines Obstruction or Retaliation as intentionally or knowingly harming or threatening to harm another by an unlawful act in retaliation for or on account of the service or status of another as:

  1. A public servant;
  2. Witness;
  3. Prospective witness;
  4. Informant; or,
  5. An individual who is trying to report a crime.

It is also a crime to threaten to harm or harm a public servant, witness, prospective witness, etc. to delay their service.

The legislative purpose of the statute was unambiguous. It was to protect police officers and other witnesses from legitimate threats and attacks by individuals to keep them from testifying or otherwise doing their job.

In recent years, however, local jurisdictions like Hays County and Comal County have been charging Obstruction or Retaliation when law enforcement arrests them for offenses like public intoxication. Law enforcement arrested these individuals because they were so intoxicated that they were a danger to themselves or others. During the process of arrest, they usually resisted arrest and made drunken incoherent threats to the officer, such as "I am going to kill you," or harm you in some way, shape, or form. These people were, in general, blackout drunk from partying on the square or the river and had no idea what they were saying. When they awoke in the cell the next morning, they had a pile of 3rd-degree felony charges. Law enforcement gave them a separate Obstruction or Retaliation for each threat they made to each officer who was present during their arrest for public intoxication, an arrest they did not remember because they were black drunk. So an arrest for a Class C Misdemeanor went from being a pretty lousy annoyance to something severe, very fast, and the client has no recollection of it.

Worst of all, the legislative purpose of the statute was not to protect officers from the drunken asshole or the clinically insane, who just ramble off anything that comes to mind, but to protect them from those that make legitimate threats of harm. Unfortunately, in today's day and age, it is getting harder to tell the difference, and it is getting harder to persuade prosecutors and juries of this fact.

Moreover, there is no statutory protection in the State of Texas for actions taken by individuals who are intoxicated. Voluntary intoxication in the State of Texas does not constitute a defense to a crime, so mostly you have to hope for jury nullification. Fortunately, juries can still be reasonable. They can see that an individual that is blackout drunk, who is otherwise honorable, with no assaultive history, did not mean the violent threats he or she made to a police officer during a public intoxication arrest.

If the State has accused you of Obstruction or Retaliation, you must retain a strong legal defense team. An experienced attorney will help you review your case, inform you of your rights, and present a well thought out defense to the district attorney, judge, or jury if necessary. Contact the Law Offices of Jason Trumpler today at 512-457-5200.

Potential Consequences

In addition to verbal threats, Obstruction or Retaliation also applies to posting threats/leaking personal info (phone numbers, addresses, etc.) of a public servant or their family online as a threat or retaliation for some public service they provided. For example, if you are under arrest and threaten to harm the arresting officer or his family in some way, you may be accused of obstruction/retaliation.

Even though individuals typically make threats of this nature in the heat of the moment, the State and the court still take threats of retaliation very seriously. Usually, Obstruction or Retaliation is a 3rd-Degree Felony. The punishment range for a 3rd-Degree Felony is:

  • 2 to 10 years in the Texas Department of Criminal Justice Institutional Division; and,
  • Up to a $10,000 fine.

If the State alleges you committed Obstruction or Retaliation against either a member of a jury or if it results in the harm of a peace officer (like a cop), the State may enhance charge to a 2nd-Degree Felony. The punishment range for a 2nd-Degree Felony is:

  • 2 to 20 years in the Texas Department of Criminal Justice Institutional Division; and,
  • Up to a $10,000 fine.

In addition to fines, jail time, and prison time, a felony record can severely impede your ability to secure housing, employment, and lead a successful life. One crucial thing the prosecution must prove is that you intended to cause harm and that harm did not happen accidentally. A strong legal defense can prepare the best possible argument for your case in court.

Contact Us at 512-457-5200

Jason Trumpler is an experienced criminal defense attorney with 20-years of experience. He has successfully won or otherwise gotten cases thousand of cases dismissed. He practices in Travis, Williamson, Hays, Bell, Comal, Bastrop, Burnet, and Lee counties. Contact our offices today at 512-457-5200.

Austin Criminal Defense Attorney Jason Trumpler can also help if the State has charged you or someone you know with any other type of criminal offense, including, but not limited to:

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Jason Trumpler

The Law Offices of Jason Trumpler

Jason Trumpler has handled thousands of criminal cases over nearly 20 years. He is a current or past member of several national, state, and local legal associations, including:

  • American Bar Association
  • Austin Bar Association
  • Williamson County Bar Association
  • National College for DUI Defense®
  • Texas Criminal Defense Lawyers' Association
  • National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers
  • Austin Criminal Defense Lawyers Association
  • DUI Defense Lawyers Association

Contact our firm online or call us at (512) 457-5200 for a free case review.

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