Recent developments in the Jessie Smollett attack have suggested the victim may have fabricated the story of the assault. If that turns out to be true and the evidence shows he intentionally lied to the police then he will probably be the one facing criminal charges.
What type of criminal charges does a person face in Texas if they intentionally lie to a police officer about facts in a criminal investigation? The typical charge is False Report to Peace Officer, Federal Special Investigator, or Enforcement Employee. That offense is a Class B misdemeanor and carries a penalty range of up to six months in the county jail and up to a $2,000 fine.
To commit this type of offense a person must act with intent to deceive and knowingly make a false statement that is material to a criminal investigation to a peace officer, federal special investigator any employee of a law enforcement agency that is authorized to conduct and investigation.
In reality charges are rarely brought under this statute. Threat of bringing this charge sometimes occurs in domestic violence cases when the victim doesn’t want to prosecute and tells the police or the prosecutor the original story wasn’t true. If the police or prosecutor wants to play hard ball they may threatened to bring a False Report to Peace Officer charge.
Police often are lied to during their investigations but they investigators usually don’t go forward with bringing charges. Since the punishment range in Texas is low many detectives don’t want to put the time and effort into bringing this type of charge to court.
Should I talk to the police? That’s the first question a citizen who has come under police suspicion has for the criminal defense attorney. Of course the answer varies on the facts of the case, but the correct answer always is, not until you have talk to an experienced criminal defense attorney.
The average person, especially one who has never been trouble with the police intuitively thinks they need to sit down and discuss with the case with a detective. They believe that the police will think they are guilty if they don’t cooperate. What they don’t understand is the majority of the time the police detective has already made up his mind about the suspects guilt and is only looking to either get a confession or at least get incriminating statements that help the detective prove their theory of the case.
Often times the best way a citizen can protect himself is by remaining silent. Sometimes the police can’t really identify a suspect and any admission just proving that the were present at the incident gives them enough evidence to charge. That’s just one example. There are many things that can go wrong if you talk to the police early in the investigation.
The citizens experienced criminal lawyer can determine whether it’s a good idea to interview with the police. That decision can’t be made until a criminal lawyer has had a full discussion with client and any other relevant witnesses. It is also important to get all available information from law enforcement so that you know their version of the events.
The criminal charge of Deadly Conduct can be filed as a misdemeanor or a felony under Texas law. The misdemeanor penalty range is a Class A which is up to one year in jail. The penalty range for the felony is a third degree which is 2-10 years in prison range of punishment. If a person has never been convicted of a felony then they can also receive probation.
A person can be charged with Deadly Conduct under three scenarios.
1 If a person recklessly engages in conduct that puts a person in imminent danger of serious bodily injury. This definition can cover many different situations and is charged as a misdemeanor.
2 A person can be charged with a felony Deadly Conduct if they knowingly discharge a firearm at or in the direction of one or more individuals.
3 A person can also be charged with a felony Deadly Conduct if they knowingly discharge a firearm at a house, building or vehicle that’s occupied.
In Texas a misdemeanor shoplifting offense can turn into a felony robbery case. How does this happen? Shoplifting in Texas is when a person takes property without the owners consent. In a typical shoplifting case the person commits an offense when they take property from a retail business with paying for the merchandise. The degree of the offense is determined by the value of the property but typically the charge will be a misdemeanor.
This type of misdemeanor can become a felony if a person is injured during the course of the shoplifting. For example a person takes some property from a drug store and is confronted by a store manger as they exit. If that person tries to resist detention or engages in a physical fight over the property and the store manager suffers bodily injury then the police can charge the defendant with robbery.
The injury suffered doesn’t have to be a serious injury. The victim need only experience some type of pain. Furthermore the defendant can recklessly cause the injury and still be charged.
A robbery charge in Texas is a second degree felony that has a penalty range of 2 to 20 years in prison. That’s a huge difference from a shoplifting charge that usually only carries up to 180 days in jail.
An experienced criminal defense attorney can often use the facts to pursued a prosecutor to reduce the robbery charge during plea bargaining. It all depends on the facts and the types of relationships and negotiating skills of the criminal attorney. The policies of the District Attorney’s Office will also be a factor.
The story of Kevin Spacey’s Sex Assault allegation offers several lessons that can be useful in any case dealing with sexual assault allegations.
- Get the Judge to grant a motion to preserve the “victims” digital messages. Exculpatory evidence is often found in the victims cell phone but often the police don’t collect that evidence. An order by the to preserve these type of text can lead to the recovery of the potential exculpatory evidence.
- Listen to your criminal attorney not your friends. Spacey has retained very experienced attorney’s and they may have a strong defense based on consent. However Spacey released a strange video at the advice of his friend and manager right before his first court setting which could be use by the prosecution and undermine his lawyers strategy.
- Try to limit extraneous offenses. One offense standing alone may not make a strong case. However if there are other allegations from other alleged victims the prosecution will often try to convince a judge to admit those offenses into evidence. In that case the prosecutions case becomes stronger. Spacey’s lawyers will do everything in their power to prevent the admission of other allegations.
In the early morning hours of New Years Day two security guards were arrested and charged with murder for the shooting death of a patron in the parking lot outside of the Dallas nightclub. Witnesses told police that the security guards were attempting to stop and man from leaving in his truck after assaulting another person in the parking lot. It’s reported over twenty shots were fired. Part of the shooting was captured on video.
The attorney’s in this case will likely use self defense as their primary defense to these charges. Under Texas law a person can use deadly force to defend themselves or a third person. In this case the attorney’s will probably will use both. The key to self defense in murder cases is whether the jurors believe the defendant was acting as a reasonable person would under the same circumstances.
The multiple gunshots fired could create a problem for the self defense claim. Jurors sometimes hold it against a defendant if there are multiple shots fired. The criminal attorney will have to convince the jurors that the multiple shots were fired because the threat was still occurring and the threat was real. As in all trials jury selection will be critical in finding jurors who aren’t open to self defense claims or that are biased against a person using a gun to defend themselves
The Dallas Police and other local law enforcement agencies have increased their arrest and prosecution of felony family violence cases involving the choking or impeding of an airway. These types of assaults were raised to felony level in recent years by the Texas legislature.
The police will file a felony cases if they find any evidence that the victim of a family violence assault had their ability to breath impeded by any method by the suspect. This can be done by choking or smothering the hands, arms or any object. The police will take a statement from the victim and photograph any injuries they observe. The police are specifically trained to ask questions regarding whether the victim lost the ability to breath during the assault or struggle.
The charge is has very serious consequences. The penalty range is 2 to 10 years in prison. If you find yourself charged with this offense then you need to consult with an experienced criminal defense attorney as soon as possible.
Cowboys Wilson cleared in Frisco road rage case
Fox4 News, October 11, 2017
Dallas Cowboys linebacker Damien Wilson was cleared of all charges in a road rage case.
The 24-year-old was seen warming up at The Star in Frisco Wednesday morning but did not make an appearance for the media after practice.
The case stems for a confrontation in the parking lot at Toyota Stadium on July 4. Wilson was arrested for two counts of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon.
Click here to see the complete story on Fox4 News, Dallas
Dallas Observer, September 29, 2017
When now Dallas County District Judge Brandon Birmingham started working in the Dallas County District Attorney’s Office’s cold case unit, one set of files that was forbidden fruit, even for the highest ranking members of the office.
“There, in the warehouse of the DA’s office in a corner, was the file that we were never allowed to touch, the file of Jack Ruby,” Birmingham said Wednesday night at Dallas’ Sixth Floor Museum. “I was always very curious about why that was, what was in there. There was just this mystique about it.”
Birmingham, with another former high-ranking member of the DA’s office, Toby Shook, worked with Dallas County to donate its contents to the Sixth Floor Museum. On Wednesday night the treasure trove of Ruby, Oswald and John F. Kennedy assassination artifacts were on full display at the museum as Birmingham and Shook gave a walk-through of a trial they labeled the “biggest in Texas history.”
Click here to read the complete story at the Dallas Observer
FOX4News.com Staff, July 11 2017
ARLINGTON, Texas – The two former Arlington Police Department jailers who accepted a plea deal for the 2015 death of an inmate were both sentenced to a year of probation on Tuesday.
Pedro Medina and Steven Schmidt pleaded guilty Monday to misdemeanor charges for their role in 42-year-old Jonathan Paul’s death.
Paul was arrested in March 2015 after a traffic stop. He was restrained and pepper-sprayed because of his erratic behavior, and then moved to another cell and left on the floor. He died four days later.
Click here for the complete story on Fox4 News