Under Tex. Pen. Code § 38.171, individuals commit a Class A misdemeanor offense if they fail to report a felony that could result in serious bodily injury or death. A Class A misdemeanor conviction can result in up to one year in jail and a maximum $4,000 fine. To violate this section, individuals must:
- Observe someone committing a felony under circumstances that a reasonable person would believe that an offense has been committed that could cause serious bodily injury or death to others, and
- Immediately report the commission of the crime without placing themselves in danger of severe bodily injury or death and upon the reasonable belief that no one else has reported the offense
For instance, if you witnessed a man assaulting another man with a deadly weapon, such as a knife or a gun, you would have a duty to notify the police. However, you cannot be convicted of this crime if you reasonably believe that someone else has reported the crime to police. You also may escape conviction if you honestly think that you would be in danger of severe bodily injury or death if you immediately reported the crime.
Finally, in some cases, you may be unaware that someone is committing a felony offense. For example, if you observed a man holding the hand of a little girl in the store, you probably would not jump to the conclusion that the man had kidnapped the girl. Instead, you might assume that the man is the girl’s father or another male relative. As a result, you likely would not be found guilty of violating this section, as you had no way to reasonably believe that the man was committing a felony.
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.