Texas Self Defense Laws Will Be The Key To The Defense In The Austin Protester Shooting

The Texas Self Defense laws will be the key to the defense in the recent controversial shooting of Austin protester Garrett Foster by Daniel Perry. The Texas Self Defense laws give criminal attorneys the ability to mount a strong defense in murder and aggravated assault cases under the right circumstances.

On July 25, 2020 Garrett Foster was participating in a BLM protest in downtown Austin. The defendant, Daniel Perry. was working a part time job as an Uber driver and had just dropped off a client and turn on to Congress avenue into the protesters and came to a sudden stop. The protesters surrounded his car and began to beat on the hood. Garrett Foster approached the drivers door armed with an assault rifle and demanded the driver roll down his window. A few seconds later Daniel Perry fired his handgun at Foster and struck him several times. Foster died of his wounds after being taken to the hospital.

How does the Texas Self Defense laws apply to this case? One important fact to determine is why Perry was driving a car toward the protesters. Under Texas Self Defense law a person can not instigate the incident and then claim self defense. In other words you can’t set up self defense by starting the fight. Perry’s lawyers claim they can prove Perry was working as an Uber driver and have records that prove that fact. It will be essential to Perry’s defense that his lawyers can prove he wasn’t trying to provoke a confrontation with the protesters.

According to Texas Self Defense Law the fact finder in the case must review the facts that led up to the shooting from the defendant’s perspective. The ultimate question that a jury or grand jury will answer is “Would a reasonable person in the defendants position belief deadly force was immediately necessary to protect ones life?” This is a decisions that is made in a split second and every fact that led up to the defendant’s decision to pull the trigger is important.

In this case the victim, Garrett Foster, had an assault rifle in his possession. Perry’s attorneys contend that Foster was raising the rifle at Perry which caused him to believe he was about to be killed. Video recordings from various cell phones show parts of what occurred. Numerous witnesses have been interviewed and some verify that Foster had the gun pointed towards Perry. Other witnesses have told police it was Perry’s actions that were threatening and Foster wasn’t pointing his gun towards Perry.

How these witnesses and video evidence are presented will be very important to Perry’s defense. This is a politically charged case and many of the witnesses were friends with Foster. The defense will have to investigate the witnesses background to determine if they have motive to slant their story against the defendant.

Under Texas Self Defense law the defendant’s background can be a vital part of the defense case. Will the fact finder view him as a reasonable person? Was he trained in firearms? Has he had any prior incidents of violence? Does he have a reputation for being a peaceful and law abiding citizen? These are all questions that have to be answered for a successful defense.

In this case Perry is an active duty sergeant with the army. He has served in Afghanistan and is trained in the use of firearms. That kind of background can be used to show Perry is a credible person who is trained to use firearms and has been in dangerous situations before. There are also news reports that Perry was arrested for domestic violence when he was 18 and that could play a factor but the fact that Perry served in the military after the arrest indicates that prior case may not hurt his defense.

This investigation will probably take months before it goes to a Travis county grand jury. It will be interesting to see what facts come to light and how the defense can use these facts in their case.

Texas Riot Charges

Texas Riot charges are rarely brought by Texas law enforcement. Due to arrest made in protest over George Floyd’s death Dallas Police have arrested numerous protesters for Texas Riot charges when the protest turned more violent. Most of the charges are likely to be for Class B misdemeanors which have a penalty range up to 6 months in jail.

Under Texas law a riot is defined as seven or more people assemble and the resulting conduct creates immediate danger to property, injury to persons, substantially obstructs law enforcement, or by force deprives a person from enjoying a legal right. If you participate in the riot you can be arrested and prosecuted.

Under this statute a person can face a much higher range of punishment if a more serious offense was committed during the riot and the offense was committed in furtherance of the assembly and it was an offense that should have been anticipated as occurring during the assembly. For example 27 bikers were indicted for first degree felonies for Texas Riot charges in Waco in 2018 stemming from the Twin Peaks shooting. The prosecutors theory was that the bikers should have anticipated their assembly at the Twin Peaks could result in the murder of other bikers. The charges were dismissed by the subsequent District Attorney.

It will be interesting to see how the Dallas County District Attorneys Office handles these cases. If they all remain misdemeanors they may be settled by negotiated dismissals if the defendants have no serious criminal records. I doubt the DA wants to have trials over these cases that stem from protest of George Floyd’s tragic death.

Can I Use Self Defense to Protect My Property

The issue of using self defense comes up in assault, aggravated assault, and murder cases quite often. Texas, along with all other states, recognizes that a person can use self defense under the right circumstances. People also often ask, “ Can I use self defense to protect my property?” The answer is yes if the facts show self defense was reasonable under the circumstances.

Texas has a very liberal self defense law. The law gives a person strong presumptions if they are defending themselves from an unlawful attack, if they are in their home, vehicle or business. The Texas self defense laws also give Texans strong self defense rights when protecting their property. There are a few basic requirements that need to be met when a person uses force to protect property which are found in sections 9.41, 9.42, and 9.43 of the Texas Penal Code.

The first requirement is that the the person using force must have a lawful possession of the property and that they have a reasonable belief that force immediately necessary to stop a person from entering their land or taking their property. The law also allows a person to chase down a person and use force to get their property back if they have a reasonable belief force is immediately necessary to recover the property. The person using force must also have a reasonable belief that the person who took their property had no legal right to the property.

A person can even use deadly force to defend property if he has a reasonable belief deadly force is immediately necessary to prevent a person from committing arson, burglary, aggravated robbery, theft during night time, or criminal mischief at night time. The law also allows a person to use deadly force if to stop a person from fleeing with their property if they have a reasonable belief the property can not be protected or recovered any other way and any force less than deadly force would expose the owner to substantial risk of death or serious bodily injury.

So the answer to the question, Can I use self defense to protect my property is yes if your actions are viewed as reasonable. This is a strong self defense law but that doesn’t mean the police won’t charge you with a criminal offense. Especially if a life is taken. If the police don’t make an arrest right away they may send the case to a grand jury as a referral. It is important to consult with an experienced criminal defense attorney as soon as possible so that the facts can be developed to defend you against a criminal charge.

Texas Child Abuse Cases On the Increase

Due to the recent shelter at home orders Texas Child Abuse cases are on the increase according to hospital officials. A Texas hospital that usually sees about 8 child abuse cases in a month reported 6 cases in one week. Experts believe that increased stress caused by economic hardship, food shortages, and being crowded into a closed environment can lead to child abuse.

Texas Child Abuse cases are very serious felony charges. Depending on the facts a person can be charged from a first degree felony down to a state jail felony. If the investigation and evidence shows the child suffered serious bodily injury and the police believe the defendant intentionally and knowingly caused the injury the charge will be a first degree felony. A first degree felony carries a penalty range from 5 years in prison to 99 years or life.

If the evidence shows the serious bodily injury was caused by a reckless act then the defendant would be charged a with a second degree felony. A second degree felony carries a penalty range of 2 to 20 years in prison.

The injury doesn’t have to be a serious bodily injury in order for the police to charge a defendant with a felony. If a person intentionally causes bodily injury to child law enforcement can bring a third degree felony charge which carries a penalty range 2 to 10 years in prison. Under Texas law bodily injury only means the child felt pain. A simple slap or spanking with a hand can be enough to bring a felony charge.

There are many defenses to Child Abuse charges. If a person is under investigation or arrested for a Texas child abuse charge they should contact with an experienced criminal defense attorney before talking with the police. This could be the most crucial decision an accused citizen makes.

Intoxication Assault Conditions of Probation

Driving While Intoxicated is a serious charge. Injuring someone while driving while intoxicated is an even more serious charge. Intoxication Assault conditions of probation require more requirements for defendants than other types of probation.

Intoxication Assault is a third degree felony in Texas which means the punishment range is two to ten years in prison. Texas law also allows for the possibility of a defendant charged with Intoxication Assault to receive probation if the defendant has not been convicted of a previous felony. This usually occurs through a plea bargain.

If a defendant is successful in obtaining probation for Intoxication Assault he will have Intoxication Assault conditions of probation he will be required to follow and successfully complete.

One of these conditions is a requirement to spend at least 30 days in jail as a condition of probation. That is the minimum amount a defendant will serve as a condition of probation. You can’t get less jail time and you could get up to 180 days in jail as a condition. It should also be noted that any days in jail served as a condition of probation will not count as back time if the defendant’s probation is ever revoked.

The defendant will also be required to under go a drug/alcohol evaluation which could lead to additional conditions of probation such as a rehabilitation program. The defendant would also be required to pay for the cost of that rehabilitation program unless the court found they were indigent.

Finally all defendants who receive probation for Intoxication Assault will be required to complete an alcohol education program.

Josh Hamilton Indicted for Injury to a Child

Retired Texas Ranger baseball player Josh Hamilton was recently indicted for the felony offense Injury to a Child. The arrest affidavit alleges that Hamilton struck his 14 year old daughter with a water bottle, pulled a chair out from under her and struck her legs with his palm and fist. Hamilton is charged with a third degree felony. Under Texas law a third degree felony has a penalty range of two to ten years in prison and fine up to $10,000. A defendant can also receive probation if they have no previous felony convictions.

Hamilton was only charged with a third degree felony because the indictment only alleges bodily injury. Bodily Injury is means the victim felt pain but didn’t suffer serious bodily injury. In this case Hamilton’s daughter claims she was hit with a water bottle and that Hamilton hit her legs with his fist and palm. If she was over the age of fourteen then the police could only have charged Hamilton with a misdemeanor assault. Under Texas law a child is defined a a person who is fourteen or younger.

There have been protective orders issued in the past between Hamilton and his ex-wife. This indicates a long history of conflict between parents which probably spilled over into their children’s lives. A history of custody issues involving children can often lead to evidence which can be helpful to the defense.

Abbott’s Executive Order Blocks Release of Inmates on PR Bonds

Governor Abbott issued an executive order Sunday which will have tremendous consequences for person’s charged with pending violent felonies or have been convicted of violent felonies in the past. Abbott’s Executive order does not allow persons who are in jail on crimes of violence or with a criminal history of violence to be eligible for a personal recognizance bonds which are also called PR bonds. Judges sometimes grant PR bonds to defendants which allows them to be released from jail without posting any money.

In recent weeks Judges in Texas have been under pressure due to the Corona virus to release as many inmates from county jails as possible. One way of doing this is by granting a PR bond. In Harris County a District Judge released an inmate charged with Murder when the inmate complained that he was afraid of catching the Corona virus in jail. Abbott’s Executive Order now takes that tool away from Texas Judges.

Criminal defense attorneys will no doubt fight back by alleging the Executive Order is a violation of the defendant’s Constitutional Rights. The Corona virus has already shut down court dockets and caused Judges to cancel trials and reset cases. Some defendant’s have been waiting over a year in jail for a trial. Now with Abbott’s Executive Order they will have an even longer wait.

What To Do When You Are Arrested For Domestic Violence

If you are arrested for a domestic violence charge here is a short list of things you do immediately.

Hire a criminal attorney who has extensive experience with defending domestic violence cases.

Meet with your criminal attorney and tell him all the facts about your case. Be sure to Include all previous incidents with the person who has accused you of assault .

Provide your criminal lawyer with all text messages, video and audio recordings, emails, photos and any other social media information that’s relevant.

Do not have contact with the accuser if there is a protective order. If you have a violation of your protective order you could land in jail and it could lead to another arrest.

Be prepared for a long battle. Time is on your side. Be patient and follow your criminal lawyers advice and you will have the best chance of having the charges dismissed, reduced or obtaining a not guilty verdict.

Dallas Domestic Violence Arrest Increase

Dallas domestic violence cases have been on the increase according to news reports. Since more people are stuck in their homes due to the corona virus there has been a spike in 911 calls. As a result the Dallas police are making more domestic violence arrest.

Jail is bad place to be, especially when the corona virus is spreading. The first thing to due if you are arrested for domestic violence is call a criminal lawyer. A Dallas criminal lawyer will know the best way to get you out of jail as soon as possible. A case is always easier to defend if you are out of jail.

Once you get out of jail meet with your criminal attorney as soon as possible. Your criminal attorney needs to know all the facts so he or she can advise you how to proceed. You need to provide your criminal lawyer with all text, emails, recordings and any other communication you have had with the accuser. This information will be vital to your defense.

Many criminal cases are being delayed due to the courthouses being shut down. Arrest are down for some crimes but not domestic abuse. The Dallas Police and other police departments will continue to make arrest for domestic violence cases. The Dallas District Attorneys office will continue to aggressive prosecute Dallas domestic violence cases. Get a good criminal lawyer to defend you rights.

Governor’s Disaster Declaration Increases Punishment Range for Some Texas Crimes

Governor Abbott declared a state of disaster for Texas because of the Coronavirus Pandemic. Most people don’t realize that when the Governor of Texas declares a state of disaster there are serious implications under the Texas Penal Code. Punishment increases by one degree for certain crimes if the evidence proves the offense was committed in an area that was at the time of the offense subject to the state of disaster.

Normally the state of disaster is confined to a particular geographic area that was hit by a natural disaster like a hurricane, flood or tornado. This situation is different because it covers the whole state. This statue covers crimes like arson, burglaries, theft, robberies and assaults.

So if you go to the grocery store and get into a fight over toilet paper and punch your neighbor in the face you may get charged with a State Jail Felony rather than Misdemeanor Class A Assault. That would mean you would be facing 180 days to two years in a State Jail rather than up to one year in the county jail if the same assault had been committed under normal circumstances. You would also expect to get hit with higher bond since the charge is a felony.

This section of the penal code also applies when the President declares an area of Texas as a State of Disaster. So during the Coronavirus State of Disaster prosecutors have two ways to prove the enhancement portion of the criminal charge.