When a person is arrested for allegations of assault in Texas, it will inevitably be a fearful time. Simply being confronted by law enforcement can elicit concern. When there are accusations of wrongdoing, it is even worse. When the crime is assault, it can be confusing as to what that means.
There are several tenets to an assault charge and that can include many factors including who the victim is, the circumstances, if weapons were used, the extent of the injuries the victim might have suffered and more. In some situations, the charges can go from assault to aggravated assault. Understanding the law in these cases is important when considering the options to lodge a defense.
Assault vs. aggravated assault: How do they differ?
Under the laws of the Lone Star State, assault charges will stem from a person injuring another person; threatens another person with bodily injury; or causes physical contact with another person when they know it could be offensive or provocative. This includes the person’s spouse. With that, if the person charged tells another they are going to injure them, bumps into them in an inappropriate way or hits them, it will be an assault charge.
The gravity of the penalties will vary. A third-degree misdemeanor will result from assaulting a public servant who is going about their duties or if the victim is a person with whom the suspect is involved in a relationship or is a family member. It can also involve choking them intentionally and inhibiting their breathing.
If it is committed against an elderly person or a disabled person, it is a Class A misdemeanor. It is a Class B misdemeanor if it happens by a sports participant against a person who is not a sports participant and is, for example, an official in the contest.
Aggravated assault will be charged if there was serious bodily injury due to the accused person’s actions. It can be from a physical confrontation or using a weapon for the assault. This is a second-degree felony, but it can be a first-degree felony if the assault was with a deadly weapon and was committed against a person with whom there was a relationship.
It is also a first-degree felony if it is committed by a public servant acting under the authority of their job; against a person who is a public servant who is performing their duties; as retaliation against a witness of a crime; against a process server; or a security officer doing their job. Recklessly discharging a firearm while in a motor vehicle and shooting at a building, vehicle or residence is also aggravated assault.
A positive outcome generally requires a comprehensive and experienced defense
Often, people who are arrested for assault or aggravated assault do not have a criminal history and are unsure of what they might be facing. A conviction on a crime that has the negative connotations of assault can result in jail time, fines and damage to the person’s reputation. Felony charges can result in severe penalties and a long-term jail sentence. Their employment, family and future can be harmed in innumerable ways.
The first step to an effective criminal defense is understanding the charges and the potential penalties. Next, it is vital to show from the perspective of the accused what happened and assess the law to try and reach a favorable outcome. For those who do not have a criminal record, there may be options to have the charges reduced or have a plea bargain. Depending on the case, there could be a way to get an acquittal. The assault might have been in self-defense. Having aggressive, knowledgeable and experienced representation is a key to that defense and should be understood from the start.