Posted on 8/24/20

At the end of July, six protesters in the Texas Capitol were arrested on a variety of charges. The criminal charges arose from actions that allegedly happened during protests against police brutality between May 30-31. Two of the suspects face felony criminal mischief charges, rioting charges, and a charge of felony assault on a public servant. After the May 30 protest, the Republican governor called in the National Guard to help reinforce state and local law enforcement and guard the Capitol. 

Criminal Mischief Charges

When law enforcement officers charge protestors with crimes, they often include criminal mischief. Criminal mischief crimes vary in Texas, but often include the following types of behavior:

  • Breaking windows

  • Setting fires

  • Destroying government or school property

  • Defacing another person’s home

  • Keying vehicles

  • Marking public or private property with spray paint

Most of the time, prosecutors bring misdemeanor criminal mischief charges in Texas. However, in some circumstances, like the one mentioned above, prosecutors bring felony charges that carry jail time up to 10 years. In the mentioned above, one of the defendants is accused of damaging property at the Governor’s Mansion and at the Capitol. 

Most criminal mischief charges in Texas do not rise above a state felony. But, when someone causes over $30,000 in damage, they can receive heavier fines and be sentenced to 10 to 20 years in jail. When the damage exceeds $300,000, someone will face first-degree felony charges, which are incredibly serious and carry a prison sentence between five and 99 years. 

Misdemeanor Riot Charges 

If you knowingly participate in a riot in Texas, you could face rioting charges. According to Texas law, rioting includes the group of seven or more people who:

  • Create an immediate danger of injuring people or damaging property

  • Substantially obstructing governmental functions or services or obstructing law enforcement

  • Depriving any person of a legal right, or disturbing any person in the enjoyment of that right by force, threat of force, or physical action.

One of the best defenses to rioting charges is to prove that the assembly you were in was lawful at first and that you left the assembly once it became clear that they intended to engage in rioting. Typically, rioting is a Class B misdemeanor charge in Texas. However, when the suspect commits an offense in the furtherance of the purpose of the assembly, he or she will be charged with the class of that offense. 

Contact an Experienced Texas Defense Lawyer Today

If you have been arrested and charged with crimes related to protest, you need an experienced criminal defense lawyer. Many times, it is difficult for law enforcement officers to see which protesters are committing crimes. You may have been arrested due to being mistaken as another person. Whatever your situation, Abel Law Firm can help. Contact our law firm as soon as possible to schedule your initial appointment to learn how we can help you.

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