Spring, TX asked in Criminal Law for Texas

Q: is it obstruction of justice for a peace officer to keep info from another peace officer at a scene?

I used self defense when my wife attacked me, i explained the situation to both officers, they both seemed confused as she had called while i ran for safety. One went inside to talk to her, and the other stayed with me. I explained other instances where she had been violent towards me, one of which happened just 6 weeks prior in their jurisdiction where she gave me a concussion. When I began to explain what happened he started to raise he voice and stop me from talking insisting it had "nothing to do with tonight." When the other officer came out she seemed excited to announce that I was the aggressor. I began to talk about the other incident, but he jumped between us and said "i told you that has nothing to do with tonight, and I will look into it." They said they were going to walk me out of the complex, but when we got to their cars they went behind them 3-5x's to argue, and finally arrested me.

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2 Lawyer Answers

Victoria Collins

Answered
  • Criminal Law Lawyer
  • Fort Worth, TX
  • Licensed in Texas

A: No, it doesn’t sound like obstruction of justice took place: it sounds more like a decision had to be made to protect both parties. In Texas, an arrest is mandatory in a domestic abuse report. Unfortunately for you, you’re spouse made the call and you did not. Prior incidents are irrelevant as to who is the aggressor in the current situation.

1 user found this answer helpful

Kiele Linroth Pace

Answered
  • Criminal Law Lawyer
  • Austin, TX
  • Licensed in Texas

A: It isn't obstruction, but you should tell your criminal defense attorney about the discussion between the officers before they arrested you. These days, most officers wear body-mounted cameras and/or wireless microphones. If the first responders disagreed when their investigation occurred immediately after then incident then how could a jury be unanimously convinced, beyond a reasonable doubt, by second-hand information presented months or even years later by a prosecutor that wasn't even there?!? However, your attorney must act quickly to request copies of those recordings before they are destroyed.

It is true that what happened previously is irrelevant with regard to who was the first aggressor on this occasion. However, the Rules of Evidence explicitly ALLOW a defense based on Self Defense to bring up past incidents that illustrate the alleged victim's character for violence. Since it is a Family Violence case you can go into a bunch of stuff that would be excluded from evidence in a stranger-vs-stranger assault. (Article 38.371 Code of Criminal Procedure)

The requirement of Self Defense are fairly technical, and there are special rules for Family Violence, so it is important that you hire a local attorney with experience handling Family Violence cases involving self defense.

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