Have you or a loved one been charged with assault in Texas?
First, you should know that an arrest and a charge are NOT the same thing.
An arrest simply means that you were taken into custody by law enforcement officers on suspicion of committing a crime. Further, an arrest is based on an allegation which may or may not be true. Indeed, thanks to the right to due process established by the American constitution, you are considered innocent until proven guilty.
While an arrest doesn’t mean you have been charged with anything, a charge can follow an arrest. Such a charge means that the prosecutor, perhaps from the district attorney’s office, decides to charge you with a specific crime for which there are specific penalties or punishments. A charge is more serious than an arrest.
If the charge remains, it then goes before a court, where the defendant can establish his or her innocence with help from a criminal defense lawyer.
But if found guilty by a judge or jury, the defendant is convicted and faces the punishments set forth by Texas law for the particular crime of assault.
In Texas, the offense of assault can be categorized as “simple assault” or “aggravated assault.”
A simple assault means that a person intentionally, knowingly or recklessly causes bodily injury to another person, or even just threatened to do so. An assault in Texas doesn’t necessarily mean there was physical contact.
Many forms of physical contact can also be considered an assault, even if no violence was involved. For example, a male supervisor touching a female employee inappropriately in a workplace could be considered sexual assault.
As for causing bodily injury in a simple assault, this offense is a Class A misdemeanor with punishments of up to 1 year in jail and a fine of up to $4,000. Threatening bodily injury or making physical contact which provokes another person is a Class C misdemeanor punished with no jail time but rather only with a fine.
An aggravated assault, on the other hand, means that a person caused serious bodily injury to another person, or used or brandished a deadly weapon during an assault. Serious bodily injury means the injury leads to protracted loss or impairment of a body part or organ, serious permanent disfigurement or death, or a substantial risk of death.
In Texas, an aggravated assault is a second degree felony with punishments including 2 to 20 years in prison and a fine of up to $10,000. If the assault also involved certain circumstances such as domestic violence, it can be considered a first degree felony with punishments that include up to life in prison.
Other aggravated assault charges in Texas can include impeded breathing (choking), assault with a prior conviction and continuous family violence.
As for possible defenses if you are charged with assault in Houston, Harris County or elsewhere in Texas, these include:
This is a common defense for those facing an assault charge in Texas. But what is self-defense as a claim to beat an assault charge?
Basically, a claim of self-defense means you must prove that the assault you made was justified as a defense against a person who acted violently or made threats of violence toward you. For threats, there must be a real perceived threat of violence against you in order for you to respond with violence in self-defense.
Although Texas law allows you to protect yourself against violence by others, your self-defense cannot be extreme. Instead, it must be the minimum amount of force possible in order to ensure your protection. You also cannot have provoked the initial violence or threat of violence against you.
Unlike in some states, Texas doesn’t demand that you have a duty to retreat. Rather, you have legal right to respond to violence with self-protective violence, as long as that is proportionate with the violence or violent threat against you.
In other words, if someone pushed and slapped you, you don’t have a right to attack them and break their arm. But you do have a right to push back to prevent further violence against you.
In Texas, you not only have a legal right to defend yourself in the face of violence against yourself, but also a legal right to defend others against violence or threats of violence toward them. Depending on the circumstances, you also have a legal right to stop crimes in progress.
Texas law also provides that you can use force to defend your property. For example, if you catch a burglar invading your home to remove your property, you can use force to stop this criminal act.
The so-called “Stand Your Ground” law in Texas holds that such force, when reasonable, can be used to defend property such as your home or car.
A skilled and experienced criminal defense lawyer in the Houston area may find other ways to help you beat an assault charge in Texas. These defense tactics may involve negotiating with prosecutors to get the assault charge dropped or dismissed before it goes to trial.
Sometimes in assault cases, including domestic assault or family violence, the alleged victim may reconsider after the heat of the moment and later inform prosecutors that he or she doesn’t want to press the case and wants the assault charge to be dropped.
However, that doesn’t mean the assault charge will be dropped.
But in some circumstances, the prosecutor may decide that a conviction will not be possible and will drop an assault charge. Your Texas assault defense lawyer can help make that happen by presenting information and arguments to the prosecutor on your behalf.
If the assault charge is dropped or dismissed, you would not go to trial.
Clearly, an assault charge is too serious not to get a knowledgeable defense lawyer to fight for your legal rights. If you face an assault charge in Houston, Harris County, Fort Bend County or Montgomery County, contact the Neal Davis Law Firm today. We’ll give you a legal review of your assault case, and then you can decide how you wish to proceed.