Tex. Pen. Code § 38.15 defines the criminal offense of interfering with public duties. Individuals commit this crime when they act with criminal negligence in interrupting, disrupting, impeding, or otherwise interfering with specific classes of persons while in the performance of their official public duties. The interference may occur concerning:
- Peace officers, animals used in law enforcement, and animal control officers
- Emergency medical services personnel
- Public health, safety, or environmental workers
Interfering with public duties also may include interference with the transmission of communications over citizen’s band radio channels for emergency purposes. Additionally, this code section creates a rebuttable presumption that individuals have interfered with a peace officer if they intentionally disseminated personal identifying information of peace officers or their family members. Applicable forms of information might include home addresses, telephone numbers, emergency contact information, or social security numbers. This presumption, however, does not apply to information disseminated by radio or television stations or newspapers.
This code section does provide for some defenses to prosecution for interfering with public duties. For example, individuals who take actions to warn drivers of the presence of peace officers have a defense to prosecution under this section. Likewise, it is a defense to prosecution if the allegedly interfering behavior of individuals consisted only of speech.
Interfering with public duties is a Class B misdemeanor offense under Texas law. A conviction for a Class B misdemeanor offense can result in up to 180 days in jail and a $2,000 fine. Individuals also can face a term of probation of up to two years. Additionally, a conviction for interfering with public duties may have collateral consequences, as well. You risk a permanent criminal conviction that can harm your current job and your employment opportunities in the future.
The criminal defense lawyers of Peek & Toland have handled the legal defense of countless individuals who are facing criminal charges. We are here to protect your rights and advocate on your behalf. Our goal is to get the best outcome possible in your case. Call our office today at (512) 474-4445 to set up an appointment with our criminal defense attorneys.