When a police officer detains you, it is important to remember that you have certain constitutional rights. For instance, you do not have to answer the officer’s questions or give your consent to a search of your vehicle. But it is critical to understand that under no circumstances should you physically resist or obstruct an officer in the performance of their duties. This is a crime under Texas law–resisting arrest, search, or transportation–classified as a Class A misdemeanor. And if the act of resisting involves the use of a “deadly weapon,” you are facing a potential felony charge.
Houston Court Affirms Defendant’s Conviction After He “Slapped” Deputy’s Hands During Pat-Down Search
A recent decision from the 14th District Court of Appeals here in Houston, Holzworth v. State, illustrates the type of actions that can lead to an arrest and conviction for resisting an officer. This case began with a traffic stop in February 2017. A Harris County sheriff’s deputy responded to a call regarding a “suspicious vehicle” in a neighborhood where there had recently been a number of break-ins. The deputy identified a truck that matched the description and decided to initiate contact with the driver–the defendant in this case–who had exited the vehicle and was tying his shoe.
According to the deputy, he “called twice” for the defendant to “come talk to him,” but the defendant “ignored” him. Eventually, the deputy made contact and explained he “just wanted to identify” the defendant “and send him on his way.” At this point, the defendant took out his phone and used it to make an audio recording of the encounter. On the recording, the defendant repeatedly tells the officer, “Don’t touch me.”
The deputy said he decided to conduct a pat-down of the defendant for weapons. But as he began the search, the defendant knocked the deputy’s hand away twice. At this point, the deputy said he called for backup. And as the deputy continued to attempt his pat-down, the defendant resisted “the whole time.” Ultimately, the deputy did not find any weapons or other illegal contraband on the defendant.
Nevertheless, prosecutors charged the defendant with “resisting a search by someone he knew to be a police officer.” A jury found the defendant guilty. The trial court sentenced the defendant to one year in jail, which was suspended in favor of community supervision.
On appeal, the defendant challenged the sufficiency of the evidence against him. The 14th District rejected this argument and affirmed the defendant’s conviction. The appeals court noted the jury was entitled to believe the deputy’s account of what happened, namely that the defendant used force against him by striking his hand during the search.
Speak with a Houston Criminal Defense Lawyer Today
As mentioned above, the defendant chose to make an audio recording of his encounter with the deputy. This is not illegal. What is illegal is using any type of physical force–even just slapping away a hand–against an officer performing their duties.
When dealing with the police, you should always remain calm and not take any action that might escalate the situation. And if you are placed under arrest for any reason, contact a qualified Houston criminal defense attorney who can advise you of your rights. Call the Law Offices of Tad Nelson & Associates today in League City, Houston, or Galveston if you need immediate assistance, (281) 280-0100.