Are you or someone you love facing an assault charge in Texas?
You may be wondering how to deal with it.
Well, assault charges in Texas are serious. You need to deal with it carefully and put up a vigorous defense to avoid a conviction.
The first step is to understand what you have been charged with. What are the laws and penalties, and how you can defend yourself.
Here is what you should know about assault charges in Texas.
What is assault in Texas?
According to Texas Penal Code §22.01, assault is where a person knowingly threatens another with bodily harm or causes injuries to them. Injuries can be any illness, pain, or impairment resulting from the assault.
Sometimes, you may unintentionally injure others through reckless acts, and that can be classified as an assault too.
Reckless acts occur where you do things knowing they may have negative results, but, you choose to ignore the risks involved.
For example, if you push someone, and they fall and therefore, are injured, that can be classified as an assault.
Provocative acts such as poking someone’s chest, may not injure the person but offend them. This can also be classified as an assault.
Types of assault in Texas
There are two kinds of assault; simple assault and aggravated assault.
When you cause any bodily harm that inflicts minor injuries, such as bruises, this is considered a simple assault.
In cases where serious injuries such as the loss of a limb or broken bones result from your actions, this is aggravated assault.
It is important to note that an assault doesn’t have to involve physical contact; threatening to harm someone can also be considered an assault in Texas.
Sometimes, assault doesn’t have to cause injury, but it may be offensive to the other person. For example, where a person touches another inappropriately in cases of sexual assault.
If you assault a member of your family or someone in your household, this is domestic assault. This often happens in cases of domestic violence.
Penalties for assault in Texas
The circumstances of an assault will determine whether it is a felony or a misdemeanor.
In Texas, you can be charged of a Class A, B, or C misdemeanor.
A Class A misdemeanor when you physically injure another person or you physically contact an elderly person offensively. Such a crime will earn you up to a year behind bars and a fine of up to $ 4000.
An assault is classified as a Class B misdemeanor where you assault an official associated with a sports performance. Such an assault conviction means up to 180 days behind bars and a fine of up to $ 2000.
If you commit offensive physical contact or threaten bodily harm, you will be charged with a class C misdemeanor. If you are convicted of this, you can expect to pay up to $ 500 in fines.
A third-degree felony occurs if you assault a government official, a public servant, a emergency service worker or security guard. This also applies to family members, household members, a partner, and other persons with protected status. I fconvicted, you will get between 2 and 10 years in prison and a fine of up to $ 10,000
Intoxicated assault is also classified as a third-degree felony attracting the penalties mentioned above.
If you have previously been charged with assaulting a partner, a member of your household, or other family members, this is a second-degree felony. It can land you behind bars for between 2 to 20 years and a fine of up to $10,000.
A first-degree felony applies when you commit aggravated assault against a protected status individual, such as a domestic partner. This will get you five years to life behind bars and a fine set by the courts.
Assaulting a pregnant woman in Texas
The State of Texas is also very serious about assault cases, and the legislature is always passing new laws to make penalties for assault harsher.
In June 2019, Texas legislators passed House Bill 902, making it a felony to assault a pregnant woman. As a result, the penalty is between two and ten years behind bars. Previously, this was treated as a Class A misdemeanor, which is punishable with up to a year in jail.
Enhanced assault charges
In Texas, the courts can also view a simple assault as a grave crime depending on the seriousness of the assault or the record of your previous crimes. In such cases, your assault charge will be enhanced and will attract harsher penalties.
For example, a domestic assault charge can be enhanced from a misdemeanor to a felony, if the offender has previously been convicted of another domestic assault.
Alternative punishments for assault in Texas
Apart from serving jail time, there are other forms of punishment for assault cases in Texas.
- Community supervision
Sometimes, instead of facing jail time, the court rules that a defendant found guilty of assault goes through community supervision.
Community supervision is 180 days for a felony assault and 30 days for a misdemeanor assault.
During community supervision, you will be expected to follow the court’s instructions on how to perform the community supervision. If you don’t, you will spend the rest of your sentence in prison.
Community supervision comes with specific responsibilities such as passing drug tests, regular meetings with your probation officer, and keeping off any criminal activity and company.
- Paying restitution
When you have have been convicted of an assault, you may be required to reimburse your victim. This may include any money they used due to your crime, such as hospital bills.
- Deferred adjudication
In some cases, the court may postpone sentencing you for some time, if found guilty of assault, in return for complying with specific requirements such as probation or working in the community as a volunteer.
If you obey the court’s requirements, the case brought against you may be dismissed. However, the details of the case will remain part of your criminal record.
On the other hand, if you do not satisfy the court’s requirements for deferred adjudication, you will be sentenced. Deferred adjudication is most often offered to you if you are a first time offenders.
Self-defense laws in Texas
There are self-defense laws in Texas that allow you to fight someone while protecting yourself or your property during a crime.
However, these laws only require reasonable force and not extreme acts of violence. For example, you cannot respond to a slap with excessive force, such as by stabbing or shooting them.
Another defense against assault charges is where you are defending another person against violence.
What to expect
If you are accused of an assault in Texas, you may be arrested as the police investigate the claim.
You must remember it’s just an allegation.
This doesn’t mean you are guilty. Under the law, you are innocent of any crime until proven guilty.
If you are charged, this means the prosecution has some evidence and want to pursue a case against you.
Sometimes charges against you may not stick due to weak evidence, but if they do, the prosecution will take your case to court, where you must establish your innocence or guilt with a lawyer’s help.
If found guilty, the court will set a punishment for you according to provisions of Texas laws.
Please note that if you are convicted of assault in Texas, this entered into your permanent criminal records.
A criminal record, especially for assault, may make it more difficult for you to get a job and locks you out of other valuable opportunities.
Therefore, make effort to consult an experienced criminal defense attorney to help you deal with the charges.