Texas Voting: The Unknown

Voting in the State of Texas

We are in full swing of early voting in the Great State of Texas.  This is Primary Election season, but it won’t be long and the General Election will be here. The 2008 US Census Bureau says that only 63% of all people registered to vote did. That doesn’t seem that bad, until you realize that only 72% of America is even registered to vote. In reality, only 45% of America is even voting in these elections, even though they could determine the fate of the country.

Primary vs General Elections

I spoke to friends last week who weren’t aware we were in election season.  Adults who forgot their civics education in high school.

In the Primary elections, voters indicate their preference for their party’s candidate (Democrat or Republican) for the upcoming general election.  This includes local, state and national elections.  In the Primary election there may be 1 or 12 persons running in your party for a position.  Voting in the Primary election narrows the names down to one person in your party to run in the General Election in November.

In the General Election, this is the final vote for your local, state and national elections.  The winners of the various primary elections are the remaining choices for the open positions.

What Do I Need to Vote?

First, you must register to vote.  Applications to vote are very accessible.  You can register when you apply for your drivers license or go to the Library.

You must be at least 17 years and 10 months when you apply.  The application must be received in the County Voter Registrar’s office or postmarked 30 days before an election in order for you to be eligible to vote in that election. 

All voters who registered to vote in Texas must provide the following:

  1. A valid Texas driver’s license number
  2. Texas Personal Identification Card number (issued by the Texas Department of Public Safety.)
  3. Texas Election ID Certificate
  4. Texas Handgun License
  5. U.S. Citizenship Certificate with Photo
  6. U.S. Military ID Card with Photo
  7. U.S. Passport (Book or Card)

What Can I Bring Inside the Voting Booth?

If you feel you need a little help remembering, you can bring printed materials, including a sample ballot into the voting booth with you.  You are NOT allowed to use a cell phone or other devices that can be used to take photographs.

The Art of Voting!

I recommend doing your research on each candidate and then, GO VOTE!

Should you have any legal questions, contact Conroe Law Office, Attorney John E. Choate, Jr. at johnc@conroelawoffice.com or 936.441.2999

Consultations are Free.

Deadly Conduct: An Assault Charge in Texas


We’ve all lost our temper at some point or another, and as you’ve most likely experienced yourself, often everything ends up resolved.

Some situations, however, only end when assault charges are filed. What you may not know is there’s more to assault charges than what you see in the movies or on television in a barroom brawl.

When you’re the kind of Texan who exercises your right to bear arms regularly… there’s an increased chance of being charged with “deadly conduct” should an altercation arise.

Deadly Conduct Charges in Texas

The Texas Penal Code (Sec. 22.05) defines deadly conduct as a crime committed when one person “recklessly engages in conduct that places another in imminent danger of serious bodily injury.” It is a term for several specific types of assault and heavily focuses on the potential harm of firearms.

Deadly Conduct Charges Usually Accompany Reckless Behavior

Deadly Conduct Charges Usually Accompany Reckless Behavior

While there is some overlap between deadly conduct and aggravated assault, especially at the lower levels, deadly conduct is usually charged in cases of recklessness as opposed to situations where offenders intend to hurt someone else.

Texas Penal Code (Sec. 22.05 (c) says “Recklessness and danger are presumed if the actor knowingly pointed a firearm at or in the direction of another whether or not the actor believed the firearm to be loaded.”

Bearing Arms in Texas is a Right That Comes with Responsibility

Firearms should be handled carefully at all times. This is a basic tenet of every gun safety course on the market. Essentially, you should always act like the gun is loaded, even if you’re sure it isn’t. Otherwise, one mistake could land you a deadly conduct charge.

There are four specific ways you can potentially receive a deadly conduct charge, and there are two primary punishment levels that you might face.

Four Ways a Texan Can Land a Deadly Conduct Charge

The first way you can get a deadly conduct charge is by taking an action that puts someone else in immediate danger of receiving a severe bodily injury. This is the textbook definition of reckless behavior.

Reckless Behavior

Reckless behavior is the lowest level deadly conduct charged and carries the lightest sentence. Intense road rage or other unsafe and reckless driving practices might be considered deadly conduct by law enforcement.

Acting recklessly doesn’t necessarily involve a weapon at all, but if you’re convicted of this Class A misdemeanor offense, you could still wind up in prison for a year and/or paying $4,000 in fines.

The next three charges are all considered third-degree felonies which can lead to a decade in a Texas prison and/or debt of $10,000.

Firing Your Weapon

Texas Penal Code Sec. 22.05,(b)  A person commits an offense if he knowingly discharges a firearm at or in the direction of:(1)  one or more individuals;  or (2)  a habitation, building, or vehicle and is reckless as to whether the habitation, building, or vehicle is occupied.

Firing a gun at a vehicle or building you know is empty is fine. Practice shooting at unoccupied barns or old cars is common. Simply assuming the structure’s empty…is not.

You must do your due diligence and know for certain that you are not firing at an occupied space. Otherwise, you are legally considered reckless and subject to felony deadly conduct charges.

Pointing a Firearm at a Person

If you’re from Texas, then you grew up understanding guns should never be treated as a joke. They should never be pointed at another person upon whom you do not intend to fire. You point your firearm at the ground when it’s not in use.

Texas Penal Code 22.05 (c) Recklessness and danger are presumed if the actor knowingly pointed a firearm at or in the direction of another whether or not the actor believed the firearm to be loaded.

According to the law, even if you sincerely believe your firearm to be empty and don’t intend to fire, pointing a gun at another person is felonious deadly conduct.

Firing at a Person

This is perhaps the simplest and most clear-cut of the deadly conduct behaviors, and borders on aggravated assault (or assault with a deadly weapon). Recklessly firing a weapon at or in the general direction of another person is illegal, and considered a third-degree felony.

Firing by accident or without checking whether the area was clear before firing are two scenarios in which you could be charged. Always check and make certain that there is no one in the direction in which you intend to fire, or you are committing a crime.

As with nearly every rule, there is one exception to the rule on deadly conduct in Texas…

One Exception to the Rule on Texas Deadly Conduct: Consent

If someone has legally consented to the actions taken by the person holding a gun, then the gun-holder has a solid defense against charges. In fact, a sincerely-held belief that someone has consented to the action is enough to present a defense against deadly conduct.

For example, a person may give consent by accepting a job in which potential deadly conduct is an understood risk, or by consenting to a scientific experiment using established methods.

Furthermore, if the action did not result in actual harm, perceived consent becomes an even stronger defense.

The easiest way to avoid deadly conduct charges is to avoid acting recklessly. Always be cautious when handling firearms, and keep others’ safety in mind. The simplest defense is never being charged in the first place.

For criminal advice, contact the Conroe Law Office –John E Choate, Jr Attorney at Law for a FREE Consultation.

johnc@conroelawoffice.com or 936-441-2999