Deadly Conduct: A Gun Charge You May Not Know
In the United States – and in the State of Texas – you have the right to legally own and use a weapon within highly specific parameters. You do not, however, have the right to do so in a manner deemed reckless, dangerous, or threatening. In fact, doing so could lead to a gun charge you may never have heard of – deadly conduct.
The Crime of Deadly Conduct
A deadly conduct charge can be either a misdemeanor or a felony, depending upon the seriousness of the circumstances that surround the crime. The basic charge of deadly conduct involves the accused allegedly brandishing or using a weapon in a manner that is considered dangerous or reckless – or knowingly discharging a weapon in the direction of people.
The Elements of a Deadly Conduct Charge
In order to bring a deadly conduct charge, the following elements must be present:
There must be a danger of harm
There must be a threat of serious bodily injury occurring
The accused must have been in the necessary state of mind (having intent or being reckless)
The accused must have discharged or brandished a weapon
Danger of Harm
If the accused knew or should have known that his or her actions could put someone else at risk of being seriously injured, then the element of danger of harm is met. If the accused engaged in conduct that could reasonably be construed as having the potential to cause bodily harm, there is danger of harm involved.
Serious Bodily Injury
To qualify as a serious bodily injury, there must be a substantial risk of death and/or loss of function, impairment, or disfigurement. If the danger of harm is associated with a serious bodily injury, this element is present.
State of Mind
The accused’s state of mind at the time of the alleged crime must be considered. If he or she is determined to have been reckless to the point of being aware of and ignoring the danger (to others) inherent to his or her actions, the state of mind component is likely met. Further, if the accused is determined to have intended to use the firearm without regard to the danger to others involved, it also meets the state of mind element.
Discharging or Brandishing a Weapon
If the accused is alleged to have brandished or fired a gun in the direction of another person or of a home, building, or vehicle (with a person or people inside), this element is accounted for. In other words, merely waiving a gun in the direction of a house with people in it could leave you facing a charge of deadly conduct.
An Experienced Killeen Criminal Defense Attorney Can Help
If you are facing a gun charge of any kind, Brett Pritchard at The Law Office of Brett H. Pritchard – proudly serving Killeen, Texas – is an impressive criminal defense attorney with the experience, dedication, and legal insight to help. For more information, please do not hesitate to contact or call us at 254-501-4040 today.