Deadly Conduct should be a simple charge to understand right? Was there conduct? Was it deadly? Ok, then that’s “Deadly Conduct.” But like anything in law we make the simple complicated so guys like me can wear a suit and argue in court.
What is Deadly Conduct in Texas? Two ways to get there.
A It’s any conduct that places another person in danger of serious bodily injury. The conduct has to be reckless or better, so negligence won’t get there. Pointing a gun at someone counts as well.
B Shooting a gun at a car or building and being reckless about whether people are in said car or building. Shooting a gun at a person.
What’s the punishment?
Under A it’s a class a misdemeanor. Under B it’s a third-degree felony.
So you have a CHL and are being charged with Deadly Conduct?
Texans love guns and we have some very permissive gun laws that allow you to open carry and concealed carry etc. One of the most expensive decisions you can make with a gun, in terms of paying a lawyer a few thousand dollars, is to unholster your gun in public. I get it, you carry a gun for protection, and you want to have it ready in case you need protecting. Or you hope that the sight of your gun makes the other person leave you alone.
Here’s the deal. I get a lot of cases where a gun-carrying Texan (GCT) feels threatened and pulls out their firearm from their holster, purse, or glove box etc. GCT will swear to me she didn’t point it at anyone, but the complaining witness usually calls 911 and says “GCT just pointed a gun at me!” I think the simple act of brandishing a firearm is enough to make most people feel threatened, and the angle of the barrel is harder to discern when the “holy shit I’m about to get shot” adrenaline kicks in.
Now GCT has hired me and doesn’t understand why the law that allows her to open carry is also so severely punitive when they actually display their firearm for protection. GCTs are hard-working people who usually have no criminal history, and the inanity and overly punitive nature of the Texas criminal justice system comes as quite a shock.