Texas Penal Code 42.13 – Use of Laser Pointers
WHAT IS USE OF LASER POINTERS IN TEXAS?
The Texas law against using laser pointers criminalizes shining a laser pointer at law enforcement officers, uniformed safety officers, and first responders.
WHAT IS THE USE OF LASER POINTERS LAW IN TEXAS?
Tex. Penal Code § 42.13. USE OF LASER POINTERS.
(a) A person commits an offense if the person knowingly directs a light from a laser pointer at a uniformed safety officer, including a peace officer, security guard, firefighter, emergency medical service worker, or other uniformed municipal, state, or federal officer.
(c) An offense under this section is a Class C misdemeanor, except that the offense is:
(1) a felony of the third degree if the conduct causes bodily injury to the officer; or
(2) a felony of the first degree if the conduct causes serious bodily injury to the officer.
(d) If conduct that constitutes an offense under this section also constitutes an offense under any other law, the actor may be prosecuted under this section or the other law, but not both.
WHAT IS THE PENALTY CLASS FOR USE OF LASER POINTERS IN TEXAS?
The penalty category for use of laser pointers depends on whether the person’s conduct resulted in bodily injury, or serious bodily injury to the target of the laser pointer. If the officer suffered no injury, use of laser pointers is a Class C misdemeanor, punishable by up to a $500 fine.
Use of laser pointers is a third degree felony, punishable by two to ten years in prison, if the officer suffered bodily injury. It becomes a first degree felony, punishable by five to 99 years or life in prison, if the conduct caused an officer to suffer serious bodily injury.
WHAT IS THE PUNISHMENT RANGE FOR USE OF LASER POINTERS IN TEXAS?
The punishment range for use of laser pointers charged as a first degree felony is five to 99 years or life in prison, and a maximum fine of $10,000. Use of laser pointers charged as a third degree felony carries two to ten years in prison, and up to a $10,000 fine. If charged as a Class C misdemeanor, use of laser pointers carries a maximum fine of $500.
WHAT ARE THE PENALTIES FOR USE OF LASER POINTERS IN TEXAS?
A person charged with use of laser pointers may be eligible for probation after a conviction, or deferred adjudication without a conviction. The maximum term for Class C misdemeanor deferred adjudication is 180 days. A person may be placed on probation or deferred adjudication for a first degree or third degree felony for up to ten years.
WHAT ARE THE DEFENSES TO USE OF LASER POINTERS IN TEXAS?
There are no statutory defenses to use of laser pointers, so an accused may attempt to negate one of the elements the State is required to prove beyond a reasonable doubt.
For example, identity is typically the most difficult element to prove in use of laser pointer cases. The State may prove identity through circumstantial evidence, and law enforcement body-worn cameras and dashboard cameras are able to capture details from some distance.
WHAT IS THE STATUTE OF LIMITATIONS FOR USE OF LASER POINTERS IN TEXAS?
The limitation period for use of laser pointers categorized as a misdemeanor is two years. If classified as a felony, the limitation period is three years.
USE OF LASER POINTERS IN TEXAS
Laser pointers mimic sighting lasers on firearms, which may cause an officer to act as if his or her life is in danger. In 2003, the Legislature created a criminal offense for directing a laser pointer at law enforcement officers and other safety personnel to discourage this behavior.
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DRIVING WHILE INTOXICATED .15
Driving facts involved failing to maintain a single lane and speeding. Client refused breath test and forced law enforcement to obtain search warrant for blood. Blood test result was not used after challenge from Defense, and State waived and abandoned charge.
DRIVING UNDER THE INFLUENCE
Client was a college student, worried about the collateral consequences of an alcohol offense. After negotiation and review of the traffic stop, the case was dismissed. Client received no criminal conviction. The charge was later expunged and deleted from client’s record.
DRIVING WHILE INTOXICATED .15+
Client was involved in minor accident. Client was at fault in accident. A young executive, client was concerned that a criminal conviction for DWI would result in termination. After review of the traffic stop, it was clear the officer lacked probable cause for arrest. State eventually dismissed DWI charge. Client received no criminal conviction.
Client, a military veteran, was facing up to one year in jail. State could not prove intoxication by alcohol, and was prepared to proceed on loss of use by marijuana. After challenging the State to prove that marijuana was ingested at or near time of driving, and that marijuana impaired client’s driving, the State dismissed the case on the day of trial.
DRIVING UNDER THE INFLUENCE
Driving facts involved a false claim by police that taillight was out. After challenging the reasonable suspicion for the traffic stop, the State was forced to dismiss the case when video did not match police report. Client has since expunged arrest, and has no criminal record.
DRIVING UNDER THE INFLUENCE
Client is a public school teacher and faced immediate termination upon conviction. The facts of the case were bad. State was unwilling to budge in negotiation, and matter was set for trial – the last shot at avoiding a conviction and preserving client’s livelihood. State was forced to dismiss on day of trial. Client has no criminal record, and has since expunged the DWI arrest.
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