As it sounds, deadly conduct means engaging in behavior that puts someone else at risk of death. However, loss of life isn't necessarily required for a person to be charged with this offense. If they do something that causes serious bodily injury or could potentially lead to that result, they are committing an offense under Texas Penal Code § 22.05.
To get a better understanding of that statute and what's prohibited under it, let's delve into it a little deeper.
Putting Someone Else at Risk of Injury
The deadly conduct law has a couple of different subsections that define unlawful actions, one of which is engaging in behavior that would cause serious bodily injury to another person.
Texas law defines serious bodily injury as harm that could cause:
- A substantial risk of death,
- Serious permanent disfigurement, or
- Loss of the use of a limb or organ
For a person's actions to be unlawful, they must have carried them out recklessly. That means the person must have been aware of the potential results of their conduct but disregarded them and continued with doing whatever it was they intended to. Texas says that a person disregards risks when they deviate from the way an ordinary individual would have acted under similar circumstances.
The conduct under this section of Texas Penal Code § 22.05 is considered a Class A misdemeanor.
If a person is convicted of this offense, the penalties they could face include:
- Up to 1 year in jail, and/or
- A fine of up to $4,000
Firing a Gun at a Structure or Person
The second subsection of the deadly conduct statute is that concerning the discharge of a weapon.
It states that a person violates the law when they knowingly shoot a gun towards:
- People; or
- A habitat, building, or vehicle, and they showed disregard as to whether or not the place was occupied
Under the law, when a person does something knowingly, that means they are aware of their actions and the consequences that could ensue.
The interesting thing about the deadly conduct statute is that if a person points a gun at someone else, they could be charged with this crime whether or not they thought the gun was loaded.
This offense is considered more severe than that of the previous section. As such, it is charged as a third-degree felony and carries harsher punishments.
A conviction for felony-level deadly conduct could include a:
- Prison sentence between 2 and 10 years, and/or
- Fine of up to $10,000