Galveston Criminal Attorney Discusses Assault and Its Consequences
By: Mark Diaz
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Galveston Criminal Attorney Discusses Assault and Its Consequences
Questions And Answers On Assault In Texas
The most common type of assault that we see is a class A misdemeanor assault. Since it’s a class A misdemeanor, the range of punishment is up to a year in the county jail, and a fine not to exceed $4,000. The reason that I say it’s the most common that we see is because most of the assault cases that come through my office are assault cases involving family violence. One spouse committing an act of violence against the other spouse.
Typically, it’s a man charged, though not always, we do have several pending assault cases right now where it is the wife who is charged with assaulting the husband. The big thing about family violence cases is that they carry with them an affirmative finding of family violence, which then has some collateral consequences, including a restriction on gun ownership and gun possession for a period following the conviction. This causes a problem for a lot of clients. Clients don’t want to take that affirmative finding of family violence and then be prohibited from something like hunting. So oftentimes this becomes a sticky point in assault cases.
There are other types of assault as well, Class C assault, which is a fine-only offense, doesn’t typically involve injury, it’s more like harmful or offensive touching. The offender is issued a Class C citation. The thing about that classification is that it can also carry a finding of family violence, triggering the same collateral consequences. That’s something that we’re always on the lookout for.
Your vanilla assault is two guys in a bar. That’s just Class A assault, the same range of punishment; up to a year in the county jail and the fine not to exceed $4,000. However, there is no family violence finding. What constitutes family violence is very broad. It’s almost as bad as if you’ve ever had a date with this person, that can be considered family violence. It is something that can, in the correct case, get litigated in court.
After we get to the misdemeanor assaults, we get to felony assault of offenses. Injury to the elderly, that can be a state jail felony, which is six months to two years in the state jail and a fine not to exceed $10,000. We have an assault of a public servant, that’s a third-degree felony, which carries two to 10 years in the Texas Department of Criminal Justice and a fine not to exceed $10,000. When I say two to 10 years, as with all these punishment cases, you also can be probation eligible.
We see a lot of assault on public servant cases inside of the jail, and during an arrest for another offense. It has happened to our clients where they aren’t happy that they’re being arrested and they decide to fight the officers, and they find themselves charged with assault of a public servant. I had a case recently, where my client had a warrant for something simple, and he decided to fight instead of going in on the warrant and found himself now with a third-degree felony. There were two officers, and he was trying to fight both of them. So he has found himself with two third-degree felonies.
Collateral Consequences Of Family Violence
We talked earlier about family violence and the collateral consequences of the family violence finding. Being found guilty of a misdemeanor assault involving family violence has another collateral consequence. That is that if you are charged again, in the future, after having been convicted of that misdemeanor, it becomes a third-degree felony, which puts you back to two to 10 years in prison and a fine not to exceed $10,000.
The important thing to note is that the victim does not have to be the same. If you had a toxic relationship in your past and ended up with a conviction for an offense of assault involving family violence, and you find yourself charged again, you will be charged with a felony for that prior conviction.
There are much more serious felony charges that can come.
Another one we see quite frequently is what we know as choking. In the penal code, it’s impeding breath or circulation. That also is a third-degree felony, the same range of punishment; two to 10 years and a fine not to exceed $10,000. The thing about that one is if you have no history, but you are accused of choking, you are charged with a felony. We see a lot of those cases. I don’t want to give away too much of how we defend those, but the key element is that you have to impede the airway.
The officers have to get that testimony out of the victim for you to be correctly charged in that case.
Moving on from there, we have aggravated assault, which can be serious bodily injury, or it can be if you use a deadly weapon. That will get you a second-degree felony, which is from two to 20 years in prison and a fine not to exceed $10,000. When it comes to aggravated assault or serious bodily injury, the charge can come if the assault causes the loss of use of a body part or function for some period of time, then it would qualify as serious bodily injury.
If I break your arm and your arm is in a cast, you’ve lost the use of your arm. That can be a serious bodily injury. If I break your jaw and you have to have your jaw wired shut, you’ve lost the use of your mouth for eating. That would be a serious bodily injury. The injury has to be severe enough for you to lose body function or the use of a limb for some period of time, and that period is not defined.
Aggravated Assault Against A Family Member
Then we have another family member thing which is, if you commit aggravated assault, either by serious bodily injury or with a deadly weapon, that would be aggravated assault against a family member. That is a first-degree felony, which carries a punishment range of five to 99 years or life and a fine not to exceed $10,000.
Each assault case is different regarding the facts and how we would defend it. It’s hard for me to tell you how to defend each type of case because I would have to have a fact pattern. A lot of times, especially in family violence cases, it comes down to the cooperation of the complaining witness. Many times, the complaining witness does not wish to cooperate with the state, which sometimes results in the case getting dismissed, sometimes does not. It depends, again, on the history.
Contact A Galveston County Assault Defense Lawyer
If you have been charged with assault in Texas contact our assault defense lawyers in Galveston County at 409-515-6170 now for a free initial consultation on how we can defend your case.