By: Mark Diaz
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Crimes Considered Assault That You May Not Be Aware Of
If you are charged with assault in Texas, there could be severe penalties. You could face years in prison, fines, and a permanent criminal record if convicted.
However, it does not need to be this way. The assault lawyers in Chambers County at Mark Diaz & Associates can help provide the most vigorous defense against these serious charges.
What Is Assault In Texas?
You can be charged with assault in Texas if the following three things apply:
- You recklessly or intentionally caused someone physical injury or harm
- You intentionally threatened someone with imminent bodily harm
- You intentionally used provocative and offensive physical contact against someone
This definition shows that there is a wide range of conduct that can be classified as assault. As you can see, you do not need to engage in an incredibly violent action to be charged with assault in Chambers County. For example, you can be charged with assault by simply grabbing someone by the arm or pointing a finger in the chest.
Note that you can be charged with assault in Texas for merely touching someone provocatively or threateningly. For example, if you grab someone’s shoulder or push them, this could be considered a form of assault. You can also be charged with assault for merely making a verbal threat or threatening motion with a weapon.
Texas Assault Charges Classifications
In Texas, assault is a misdemeanor or felony. Felonies have much more several penalties:
- Class C misdemeanor: If you threaten someone with harm, but no injury happens. It also may be when you touch someone else offensively, but there is no injury. Punishable by up to a $500 fine.
- Class B misdemeanor: If you assault a participant of a sporting event, you can receive six months in prison and a $2,000 fine.
- Class A misdemeanor: When the assault causes bodily injury or any offensive physical contact against an elderly or disabled person. This carries a $4,000 fine and up to a year in prison.
- Third-degree felony: When the assault that causes bodily injury is against a public servant acting in their capacity as a public servant. You can also be charged with this degree of an offense if the alleged assault is against a family member, member of the household or someone in which you are in a dating relationship with AND you have been convicted of that type of assault in the past. These are potentially punishable by up to a $10,000 fine and a term in prison for not less than 2 years and up to 10 years in prison.
- Second-degree felony: If the alleged assault causing bodily injury is against a Peace Officer or Judge. There is also, aggravated assault which occurs when you brandish a weapon or cause serious physical harm. Second Degree Felonies can be punished by a $10,000 fine and a term in prison for not less than 2 years and up to 20 years in prison.
- First-degree felony: When you engage in an aggravated assault against a public servant, informant, someone who reports a crime, or security officer. Punishable by up to $10,000 fine and term in prison for not less than 5 years and up to 99 years or life in prison.
Assault Defenses In Texas
There are severe consequences to an assault conviction in Chambers County, Texas. However, remember that being arrested and convicted are different things. An arrest only means law enforcement took you into custody because they suspect you committed a crime. Also, the arrest is based only on an allegation that could be true.
If the arrest leads to a criminal charge, the prosecutor has decided to charge you for a crime with specific punishments under the law. If the charge sticks, it can go to trial, where you must plead innocent or guilty. However, there are many valid defenses to assault charges in Texas:
The most common defense to an assault charge in Chambers County is self-defense. Claiming self-defense means you need to show the assault that was made was against someone who was acting violently or made violent threats. If there were threats, there had to be a threat of violence for you to defend yourself.
Texas law allows for self-defense, but it cannot go too far. Under the law, you must use the minimum amount of force to ensure your safety. Also, you cannot provoke the original violence committed or threatened against you.
Note there is no duty to retreat in Texas as in many states. Instead, you can respond with violence in self-defense immediately if you perceive a significant threat of violence. The self-defense must be proportionate with the perceived violence, however.
For example, if someone slaps you in an argument, you are not allowed to stab them with a knife. But you can punch, push, or slap them back to defend themselves.
Defense of others
You have the right in Texas to defend yourself and others. For example, you can legally protect someone with reasonable force if someone is assaulting another person. In addition, depending on the circumstances, you may be allowed to stop a crime in progress.
Defense of property
Texas law also allows you to use force in defense of property. For instance, if you catch someone breaking into your home to steal a TV, you can use force to stop the crime. This is the Stand Your Ground law in Texas that allows you to use reasonable force to defend your car and home.
However, it is essential not to go too far in defense of property. For example, if someone is stealing your car and you shoot them, you still could be charged with a crime. But if you assault the criminal with your hands, this would probably be considered reasonable force under the law.
Assumption Of Risk
Another possible defense against assault is the assumption of reasonable risk or consent. For instance, if a group of you agree to play football, one group cannot claim assault if someone tackles them and breaks their leg. This is because everyone in the group consented to play football, so any injury that results cannot be assault.
An experienced assault defense attorney in Chambers County may beat the charge another way. Depending on the case, your attorney may negotiate with the prosecutor to get the charge reduced or dropped.
Some assault cases, including domestic disputes, can involve someone who reconsiders pressing charges after the heat of the moment passes. For example, if someone in your home brought the charges, that person may want the charges dropped later. However, the state could continue with the case. In addition, there are situations where the state prosecutor proceeds with a case even when the spouse wants the charge dropped.
But in some cases, the state may decide it will be challenging to secure a conviction and drops the charges. Your attorney can make that happen by presenting strong evidence on your behalf.
Assault Charges Myths In Texas
If you were charged with assault in Texas, do not believe the following myths:
You Will Not Face Charges If Months Go By
It is easy to assume you will not face assault charges if weeks or months pass and nothing happens. However, a misdemeanor assault charge in Texas can be prosecuted within two years of the incident. So, a long time can pass before you hear about the case. If there is a felony case, the prosecution has three years. After that, the police could simply arrest you in your home or at work and bring charges later.
The Victim Can Drop Charges
The alleged victim may want to drop the charges, but this does not matter to Texas prosecutors. The prosecutor has the final word even if you want to drop the charges. You can file a non-prosecution affidavit but it is up to the state. If the prosecutors have strong evidence, they may move forward.
Hiring An Attorney Makes You Guilty
If you are accused of a severe crime such as assault, some may think that hiring an attorney is essentially admitting guilt. However, everyone charged with a crime in America has a right to a lawyer. Therefore, it is almost always in your best interest to hire an attorney immediately.
Your criminal defense attorney deeply understands the Texas criminal justice system. They can determine the best ways to defend you by analyzing the evidence and weaknesses in the prosecution’s case.
If you do not hire a lawyer, there is a high probability you will be convicted. In addition, it is common for the accused to say things before they have a lawyer that is used against them later. So, always talk to an attorney as soon as you are arrested.
Talk To A Chambers County Assault Lawyer Today
If you have been charged with assault in Texas, you are in a difficult situation. You could wind up in jail with thousands in fines, so the time to take legal action is now!
Mark Diaz & Associates will provide the most vigorous defense possible for assault charges in Chambers County. Our criminal defense attorneys also represent clients in Tiki Island, Jamaica Beach, League City, Texas City, Alvin, Algoa, Santa Fe, Hitchcock, La Marque, Bayou Vista, Bacliff, Kemah, Clear Lake Shores, Bolivar Peninsula, Dickinson, San Leon. Contact our Chambers County criminal defense lawyer at (409) 515-6170.