Assault is a serious crime in Texas and can result in the accused spending time in jail or even being sentenced to prison, depending on the circumstances. The type of assault a person is ultimately charged with depends on who they assaulted and whether a weapon was involved.
A person may be charged with an assault if they knowingly, recklessly, or intentionally caused physical harm or injury to the victim.
Some other factors that may lead to a person being charged with assault include:
- The accused threatened another person with imminent physical harm.
- The accused made unwanted physical contact with another person they considered to be offensive or caused them discomfort.
If you are still unclear about what Texas considers assault, contact our law office to schedule a free consultation to learn more information. Our knowledgeable assault defense attorney can answer your questions and discuss legal options if you are facing criminal charges.
Can Assault Charges Be Upgraded in Texas?
How an assault is charged in Texas depends on the type of contact or threat involved. For example, assault by threat or offensive contact usually starts as a Class C misdemeanor. A Class C misdemeanor conviction typically results in a maximum $500 fine.
However, suppose the victim is a sports participant, and the accused is not; in that instance, the charges can be enhanced to a Class B misdemeanor punishable by up to 180 days in jail and/or a fine of up to $2,000. Finally, if an older adult is the victim of offensive contact, the charges can be upgraded to a Class A misdemeanor. A Class A misdemeanor is punishable by up to one year in jail and/or a fine of $4,000.
Some individuals convicted of misdemeanors believe a misdemeanor conviction does not count against them. Nevertheless, a misdemeanor conviction, much less one involving assault, can haunt you for the rest of your life.
If your charges have been upgraded, you must have qualified legal representation to advise you of your rights and protect your freedom.
What Can Cause an Assault to Be Charged as a Felony?
Even though assault can be charged as a misdemeanor, charges can quickly be upgraded to a felony, depending on the circumstances involved.
Third Degree Felony Assault
Suppose the accused assaulted any family or household member, including their current or former spouse or those involved in a dating relationship. In that case, they might be charged with a third-degree felony. Additionally, if the accused has a prior assault with a family violence conviction, they may also be charged with a third-degree felony.
Additionally, anyone accused of assaulting public servants, emergency personnel, security officers performing their duty, or government employees may also be charged with a third-degree felony. In Texas, a third-degree felony is punishable by two to 10 years in prison and a fine of up to $10,000.
Second Degree Felony Assault
If the perpetrator threatened someone with the use of a deadly weapon, they may be charged with a second-degree felony. A conviction can result in the accused being sentenced to anywhere between two to 20 years in prison and a fine of up to $10,000.
First Degree Felony Assault
If the accused has assaulted a family, household member, or dating partner and caused serious bodily injury, they may be charged with first-degree felony assault. Additionally, suppose the alleged offender commits an assault against a public servant to retaliate against them or an individual who reported them for committing a crime. In that case, they may also be charged with a first-degree felony.
If convicted, the accused could be sentenced to 5 to 99 years or life in prison and a fine of $10,000.
Texas law enforcement officials and prosecutors are often overzealous in their desire to achieve results and often upgrade charges without legal cause. If you have had your assault charges upgraded, then you must speak with a qualified attorney who can thoroughly evaluate your case.
Are There Any Legal Defenses For Assault Charges?
Even though Texas does have stringent laws on the books regarding assault cases, there are several legal defenses that an experienced lawyer can use to have the charges dismissed or reduced.
The accused must prove the assault was committed to protect themselves against the other person threatening or acting violently towards them. For self-defense to be a viable option, the accused must demonstrate there was a real perceived threat of violence made against them that caused them to act. Additionally, the accused could not be found to have provoked the incident and only used a minimum amount of force to protect themselves.
Defense of Others
Texas citizens have the legal right to defend themselves against the violent actions of another and defend others against violence. Therefore, depending on the circumstances involved, individuals have the legal right to stop crimes or criminal acts that may harm others. However, as with self-defense, individuals can only use a reasonable amount of force to stop an attack.
Defense of Property
Texas law also allows individuals to use reasonable force to defend their property. In many instances, individuals may have to use force to remove someone who has broken into their home with the intent of stealing property. The same principle applies to individuals protecting their vehicles and other property from criminal acts.
Does Your Assault Defense Attorney Have Trial Experience?
One of the overall objectives of our law firm is to ensure that individuals charged with Texas assault crimes are treated fairly and their rights are protected. Our legal team has extensive experience negotiating with prosecutors to have the charges possibly reduced or even dismissed.
Nevertheless, our assault defense lawyer is client-centered, and if the prosecution is unwilling to negotiate, we are fully prepared to go to trial. Our law office has a proven record of obtaining favorable results for clients.
Contact the Cory Roth Law Office of Houston, TX, at 832-400-4133 to schedule an initial consultation to discuss your case.