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What Is Considered A “Deadly Weapon” Under Texas Law?

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What Is Considered A “Deadly Weapon” Under Texas Law?


Many criminal offenses are charged more severely if the defendant used a “deadly weapon.” For example, Texas law defines robbery as a second-degree felony when someone commits a theft, and while doing so “intentionally, knowingly, or recklessly causes bodily injury to another.” But if the robber used or exhibited a “deadly weapon” in the process, then it is now a first-degree aggravated robbery.

Texas Man Receives Life Sentence for Robbing Car Dealer with Pipe Wrench

You might assume that a “deadly weapon” is just another way of saying a gun or a firearm. But many objects, even those not designed as weapons, can be classified as a “deadly weapon” for purposes of criminal law. And as noted above, the law does not even require proof that the defendant used the item as a weapon. It is enough to exhibit–i.e., threaten–the victim to trigger a deadly weapon enhancement.

A recent decision from the Texas 11th District Court of Appeals, Anderson v. State, provides a useful illustration. This case involved a robbery at a used car dealership. According to prosecutors, the defendant approached the owner of the dealership–the victim–and told him he wanted to buy a car. The two men then went into the victim’s office to deal with the paperwork. But when the victim went to make some copies, the defendant pushed him to the ground.

The defendant then threatened the victim “with a glass thermometer that [the victim] described as having a sharp, two-inch-tall point.” But the defendant then saw a pipe wrench and decided to grab that instead. The victim testified the defendant then threatened to kill him with the wrench if he resisted. At that point, the defendant proceeded to take approximately $1,200 in cash and the keys to a car.

Prosecutors subsequently charged the defendant with the first-degree felony of aggravated robbery with a deadly weapon. A jury found the defendant guilty. The court sentenced the defendant to life in prison. On appeal, the defendant argued the prosecution failed to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the pipe wrench was a “deadly weapon.”

The 11th District rejected the defendant’s argument and affirmed his conviction and sentence. The appellate court noted the legal standard in Texas was whether the object in question “could be a deadly weapon under the facts of the case.” Indeed, many Texas courts have found that “objects used to threaten deadly force are deadly weapons within the meaning of the Penal Code.” The critical factor is the defendant’s intentions, not the nature of the object.

In this case, the 11th District said, the jury could reasonably conclude that the pipe wrench “was capable of causing death or serious bodily injury” to the victim based on the defendant’s actions.

Contact Texas Criminal Defense Attorney Keith French Today

If you are facing any type of assault or robbery charge involving the use of a weapon, you can assume that prosecutors will seek the maximum punishment allowed by law. That is why you need to work with a qualified Pearland criminal defense lawyer who will look out for your interests. Contact Keith B. French Law, PLLC, today to schedule a case evaluation.


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