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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Sep 2005

    Default Interference with a Police Officer through Words Alone

    I am being charged in Texas with Interference of a Public Official. There is a section in the penal code that states that it is a defense to prosecution if the offense was verbal in nature only, which I am contending that it was. My entire defense will be based on freedom of speech and it seems to me that the very code they used to charge me with supports my position as well. Still I was charged and still I must make a first appearance before the court. I have not hired a lawyer yet and I promise that if I am unable to resolve this matter myself, then I will hire a lawyer.

    My question is this: how do I turn my first appearance into an opportunity to dismiss these charges? I intend to speak with the prosecutor and share with them my view about this section in the penal code. I'm not sure if that will work, but if it does not, will I get a chance to mention this to the judge? If not that, can I make a motion for dismissal based on this verbal only clause at the first appearance? I understand that sometimes first appearances don't always allow for pleas to be entered. If my case is one that get's rescheduled quickly and I don't get a chance to plea this month, can I make a motion for dismissal at the time I enter a plea, next month?

    The bottom line is that I want someone to take a look at this subclause part of the penal code that states that if my actions were verbal in nature only, then that is a defense to prosecution. To me that means that they cant prosecute. But like I said they filed charges anyway, so at what point can I ask the prosecutor or judge to respond to my penal code inquiry? Once someone in the court tells me that they don't care what that section has to say, then at that point I will have to hire a lawyer. I just don't want to have to do that unless I'm headed for a court room, which I certainly don't mind.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Sep 2005
    Behind a Desk

    Default Re: Penal Code Motion

    Are you talking about this statute:
    Quote Quoting Texas Penal Code, 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:
    (1) a peace officer while the peace officer is performing a duty or exercising authority imposed or granted by law;

    (2) 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;

    (3) a fire fighter, while the fire fighter is fighting a fire or investigating the cause of a fire;

    (4) 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;

    (5) the transmission of a communication over a citizen's band radio channel, the purpose of which communication is to inform or inquire about an emergency;

    (6) an officer with responsibility for animal control in a county or municipality, while the officer is performing a duty or exercising authority imposed or granted under Chapter 821 or 822, Health and Safety Code; or

    (7) a person who:
    (A) has responsibility for assessing, enacting, or enforcing public health, environmental, radiation, or safety measures for the state or a county or municipality;

    (B) is investigating a particular site as part of the person's responsibilities under Paragraph (A);

    (C) is acting in accordance with policies and procedures related to the safety and security of the site described by Paragraph (B); and

    (D) is performing a duty or exercising authority imposed or granted under the Agriculture Code, Health and Safety Code, Occupations Code, or Water Code.
    (b) An offense under this section is a Class B misdemeanor.

    (c) It is a defense to prosecution under Subsection (a)(1) that the conduct engaged in by the defendant was intended to warn a person operating a motor vehicle of the presence of a peace officer who was enforcing Subtitle C, Title 7, Transportation Code.

    (d) It is a defense to prosecution under this section that the interruption, disruption, impediment, or interference alleged consisted of speech only.

    (e) In this section, "emergency" means a condition or circumstance in which an individual is or is reasonably believed by the person transmitting the communication to be in imminent danger of serious bodily injury or in which property is or is reasonably believed by the person transmitting the communication to be in imminent danger of damage or destruction.
    Your first court appearance is ordinarily an arraignment, the formal reading of the charge and your entry of a plea. There may not even be a prosecutor present. If you want to raise these issues before trial such that the court may review your defenses and potentially dismiss the charges, you (ideally working with a criminal defense lawyer) would typically bring a pretrial motion.

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