What is an Assault?
- Assault involves violence or a threat of violence, because of the nature of the charge, an assault charge is taken very seriously. An assault charge can be filed as a misdemeanor or a felony if a weapon, serious bodily injury, or strangulation is involved.
- A police officer can arrest an individual immediately and charge them with assault if they witness them striking or trying to cause bodily harm to another person.
- If the accusation of assault is not witnessed by the police, the accuser will generally be required to file a police report before charges can be filed for assault.
- However if the allegations are for family violence, the accused can be arrested and charged without the police officer witnessing the assault or threats.
- An assault doesn’t have to be from physical harm. Just simply threatening violence and invoking fear in the victim is enough for police officer to arrest someone for assault, even if no violence was involved. There are three levels of assault, simple assault, assault with injury, and aggravated assault.
ASSAULT – MISDEMEANOR
Assault with bodily injury is a class A misdemeanor. It carries a penalty of up to one year in jail and up to a $4,000 fine.
ASSAULT – DOMESTIC VIOLENCE – MISDEMEANOR
The first charge of assault with domestic violence is also class A misdemeanor. It carries a penalty of up to one year in jail and up to a $4,000 fine, but it also carries additional baggage. A family violence finding means you:
- Can never own a firearm or even ammunition. It is a Federal crime to do so.
- A second family violence charge, in your whole life, is a felony punishable by up to 10 years in prison.
- If placed on probation, cannot seal your record.
ASSAULT – DOMESTIC VIOLENCE – FELONY
An assault involving domestic violence can be enhanced to a felony in certain cases. If you have been arrested for a domestic violence case in the last 12 months or there is an allegation that you choked or strangled the accuser during the course of the assault, the State may decide to enhance your charge to a third degree.
Penalties for Assault in Texas
While a first-time simple assault charge might not result in a prison sentence, most convictions will include jail time. The specific sentence will be determined by a number of factors, including:
- Your past criminal history, if any
- The laws of your jurisdiction
- The severity of the incident in question
- The quality of your legal representation
If a deadly weapon was used, the penalties will likely be much higher. The stakes significantly rise and you could even face second-degree felony charges for this act.
Simple assault penalties
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.
What to Expect Aftter Getting a Texas Assault Charge
If you are arrested on assault charges in Texas, it is important to understand the legal process that you will have to go through. This way, you’ll be more prepared at each step of the journey and give yourself a better chance of achieving a positive outcome.
Below, you’ll find a step-by-step walkthrough of the legal process following your arrest for assault.
Appearing Before A Judge
Within 48 hours of the arrest, you will appear before a magistrate, or judge, who will read you the charges and inform you of certain rights, such as your right to remain silent and your right to an attorney.
It is impossible to stress enough the importance of retaining experienced legal counsel as early on in the process. Ideally, your lawyer will appear at this meeting.
The judge will also inform you of your right to an examining trial, where reasons for the arrest or probable cause must be established by the prosecution.
Additionally, the judge will either set bail or order you to be released without bail. The judge has full discretion on your bail amount, though your attorney can request a bail reduction if you qualify.
Finally, the date for your next court appearance will be set.
The prosecution will file charges based on the level of your assault charge. The levels are as follows:
Class C misdemeanor: threatening bodily harm or causing offensive physical contact
Class B misdemeanor: assault on a sports participant related to a performance
Class A misdemeanor: causing bodily injury to someone, or causing offensive physical contact against an elderly person
Third degree felony: Assault on a family member, household member, dating partner, or other protected status individuals. Also applies to intoxicated assault, which is causing serious bodily injury to another while intoxicated.
Second degree felony: Assault on a family member, household member or dating partner, has a previous similar offense against the same person, or the offense involves choking
First degree felony: Aggravated assault against a domestic partner or other protected status individuals.
Aggravated assault charges will apply if it causes serious injury or a weapon is used during the offense.
This is the first court appearance after charges are filed. Your charges may be read in court, and you will have the opportunity to enter a plea of guilty or not guilty. Your attorney or the prosecution may ask for a continuance for further investigation into the case.
At this point, your attorney may negotiate a plea deal with the prosecutor for reduced charges and penalties. If a deal cannot be brokered, the case will proceed to trial.
A misdemeanor case will have six jurors and a felony case will have 12 jurors. The prosecution must prove you are guilty beyond a reasonable doubt, or the jury can find you not guilty.
If you are convicted for assault, the sentencing will fall along these lines:
Class C misdemeanor: Fine of up to $500.
Class B misdemeanor: Up to 180 days in jail and a fine of up to $2,000.
Class A misdemeanor: Up to one year in jail and a fine of up to $4,000.
Third degree felony: Up to 10 years in prison and a fine of up to $10,000
Second degree felony: Two to 20 years in prison and a fine of up to $10,000.
First-degree felony: Five years to life in prison, plus a fine set by the judge.
Aggravated assault punishments
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.
Defining Aggravated Assault in Texas
Felony assault, also referred to as aggravated assault, differs from simple misdemeanor assault charges in that it involves a serious bodily injury. Under §22.02 of the Texas Penal Code, a person commits an aggravated assault if the person causes serious bodily injury to another or uses or exhibits a deadly weapon during the commission of an assault.
Serious bodily injury involves injuries that can potentially lead to the death of the other person, serious permanent disfigurement, or some other significant impairment or damage to the other’s body. Broken bones or significant bruises can result in a misdemeanor assault being transformed into an aggravated assault.
Aggravated assault is treated as a felony in Texas. If convicted, the individual faces anywhere between two to 10 years in prison as well as fines up to $10,000. Potential fines and jail time can increase depending on the severity of the alleged crime.
Conviction for a felony is extremely serious and can have long-term ramifications. This is why it is essential to mount the best defense as soon as possible. If a conviction is inevitable, it is worthwhile to obtain a conviction for a lesser offense – such as a misdemeanor. An experienced San Antonio aggravated assault lawyer will know how to properly make the case to help achieve this result.
Alternatives to Conviction
In some instances, the evidence that the State has against the alleged criminal may be one-sided. An experienced attorney will know if a case is worth going to trial or if it may be necessary to take a plea bargain. In Texas, there are a few alternatives to jail time for a person who is charged with aggravated assault.
- Deferred Adjudication – the court places the individual on a probationary period in which they are required to participate in court-ordered activities such as community service or anger management classes. The individual must also refrain from breaking the law during this probationary time period. If the defendant is able to successfully comply with the court’s requirements during the probationary time period, the court may elect to dismiss the case. This is common amongst first offenders.
- Community Supervision – as an alternative to jail, the court may impose community supervision (similar to probation) whereby the defendant is held to a number of conditions such as submitting to regular drug tests, maintaining employment, keeping a curfew, and performing community service.
These are alternatives to jail time. The court may, on its own volition, impose a mix of jail time and other conditions as a part of sentencing. This is why having legal representation is crucial. A seasoned San Antonio aggravated assault lawyer will be able to negotiate the best possible terms on their clients’ behalf.
In general, aggravated assault is considered a felony of the second degree. The penalty for such charge varies, but the presumptive sentence is between 2 and 20 years in state prison. This may include a fine not to exceed $10,000.
The aggravated assault charge can be increased to a first-degree felony if the person:
- Uses a deadly weapon during the commission of the assault and causes serious bodily injury to a family member, foster child or parent, guardian, member of a household or someone you are in a dating relationship with;
- Uses a deadly weapon against an individual they know is a public servant, while the public servant is lawfully discharging an official duty, or in retaliation, or on account of an exercise of official power;
- Uses a deadly weapon in retaliation against or on account of the service of another persona as a witness, informant or person who has reported the occurrence of a crime;
- Uses a deadly weapon against a person the actor knows is a security officer while the officer is performing his or her duty; or
- Is a public servant and commits an assault with a deadly weapon while representing their organization.
A first-degree felony conviction can lead to very harsh sentencing. The presumptive consequences of this conviction can include between 5 and 99 years in prison, along with the possibility of fines reaching $10,000.
WHAT IS AGGRAVATED ASSAULT?
Aggravated assault in Texas is a very serious charge. These charges are levied against a person who uses or threatens to use something considered a deadly weapon against another person. There are different degrees of aggravated assault, each of which has specific criteria. The most serious of these is a first-degree felony. Both other types are second-degree felonies.
First degree aggravated assault is an attack on a family member in which serious bodily injuries occurs and a deadly weapon was a factor. One of the second-degree aggravated assault charges occurs when you either inflict some bodily harm, meaning causing pain to another person or if you threaten someone with an item that is considered a deadly weapon. The other second degree aggravated assault charge occurs when you cause someone a serious injury. In this case, no deadly weapon has to be present because of the severity of the injuries.
You must understand a couple of definitions if you are facing an aggravated assault charge – serious bodily injury and deadly weapon. These are the cornerstones of these charges
Serious bodily injury includes those that cause scarring, broken bones, impairment, disfigurement, loss of hearing and similar conditions. For some points, such as scarring, disfigurement, and impairment, the condition must be permanent.
A deadly weapon is an object that can cause harm. A gun, knife and similar weapons are considered deadly weapons. Even a stick might be considered a deadly weapon in some instances. Typically, the circumstances will determine if an object is a deadly weapon.
CAN I GO TO JAIL FOR AGGRAVATED ASSAULT IN TEXAS?
Aggravated assault convictions can result in time in prison. A first-degree charge can lead to five years to life in prison. The second-degree charges can result in 2 to 20 years in prison. When you consider these possibilities, you can see why a defense is crucial in these cases.
It is sometimes possible to not have to deal with time in prison, but you must handle your defense carefully. You might be able to settle a plea deal for a lesser charge. You might also be able to have the case handled through deferred adjudication, which means you won’t have to face a conviction if you follow the program and you may be able to have the record sealed. In some cases, you might be able to be sentenced to probation instead of time in prison.
Aggravated assault charges can also be resolved if the case is no-billed, which means that it is dismissed by the grand jury. It can also end in a not guilty verdict by a jury or by being dismissed by the prosecutor. These events aren’t likely going to occur automatically, so you must ensure that your defense plan has these goals in mind.
WHAT HAPPENS IF YOU GET CHARGED WITH AGGRAVATED ASSAULT?
When you are charged with aggravated assault, you will be arrested. You will remain in jail until you can post the bail that is required by the court. You won’t be able to have contact with the alleged victim or any co-defendants as long as the case is pending.
Other penalties, including losing a license to carry, are possible if you are facing an aggravated assault charge. Speak to your attorney to find out what other possible penalties you might face because of your charge.
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