By: Mark Diaz
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Possible Defenses To A Battery Charge In Texas
Assault and battery is a standard term in the US, making it sound like a single crime. In many states, assault and battery are separate offenses with different penalties and definitions. ‘Assault’ usually means threatening another party with violence, while ‘battery’ usually means the threatened act took place and the person made physical contact with the other person with force.
In Texas, those definitions are accurate, but a battery crime in this state is under the general criminal category of assault. Learn more about battery charges in this article, including potential consequences, defenses, etc. If you have been charged with this serious crime, do not delay and retain an experienced Galveston battery attorney before it is too late.
What Assault Means In Texas
Texas Penal Code Title 5 Chapter 22 defines assault in three ways:
- Intentionally, knowingly, or recklessly causing bodily injury to another person, including a spouse.
- Intentionally or knowingly threatening another person with imminent bodily harm, including a spouse.
- Intentionally or knowingly making physical contact with another party when you knew or should have known that the other party would see the contact as aggressive or offensive.
For instance, you could be charged with assault when you purposely punch someone in a bar fight, threaten to punch them by raising your fist but not hitting them, or poking the person in the arm offensively and provocatively. So, you can be charged with assault in Texas simply for making offensive threats, threatening gestures, or offensive contact. This means you could get charged with assault simply for getting into a heated argument with friends or family.
Causing bodily harm to another person is a Class A misdemeanor in Texas. A Class A misdemeanor can be punished by up to a year in jail and a fine of up to $4,000.
You could be charged with a felony-level assault if the assault occurred by choking or impeding the circulation a household or family member. This offense is a third-degree felony if you assaulted This can be punished by up to 10 years in prison and a maximum fine of $10,000.
However, if the person who received bodily injury was a public servant on duty at the time of the alleged assault, then the offense is charged as a third-degree felony. A third-degree felony can be punished by no less than two years up to 10 years in prison and a fine of up to $10,000. Examples of public servants are EMS workers, teachers, or bus drivers on duty.
There is an important distinction to be made here because a public servant (for purposes of this offense) does not include police officers or judges. The assault is committed against an individual in this category is a second-degree felony. A second-degree felony is punishable by not less than two years up to 20 years and a fine not to exceed $20,000.
Being charged with assault for threatening the other person or making offensive contact is a Class C misdemeanor. The punishment is a fine of up to $500. However, a Class B misdemeanor can be charged at a sports event if you threaten someone during the sports event. A Class B misdemeanor can be punished by up to 180 days in jail and a fine of up to $2,500.
What Is Aggravated Assault In Texas?
An assault crime can be elevated to aggravated in some cases. The circumstances that can lead to an aggravated charge is when a dangerous weapon is used or exhibited or if the assault causes serious bodily injury. Seriously bodily injury in Texas means the injury created a serious risk of death, severe disfigurement, or impairment or loss of the function of any organ or bodily member.
Defenses To A Texas Assault Charge
If you have been charged with assault or battery in Texas, it is a severe situation, but effective defenses are available. Your Galveston assault attorney will review your case and may make one or more of the following arguments:
Defense Of Property
Texas has the castle doctrine, which means you can defend your home, car, or property with force if reasonably necessary. The use of force could be justified if you reasonably believed that the other party was attempting to commit a violent act, illegally entered your property, or was trying to remove you from your property.
People in Texas have the right to defend themselves against those who intend to harm them. Some people could wind up arrested for assault or battery for trying to defend themselves. However, the Texas Penal Code states that someone is justified in using force if they reasonably believe that force is needed to protect them. But the force has to be reasonable. For example, if someone in a bar aggressively pushes you, you can legally respond similarly. But that does not mean you can hit the person with a weapon.
Defense Of Others
An assault or battery charge also could be questioned if you were using force to defend someone else. For example, if someone punches your friend at a concert, you can use reasonable force to protect your friend from additional harm. However, the physical act you take in response must be proportionate to what the assailant used.
Consent Or Assumption Of Risk
Consent or assumption of risk can be a solid defense in some scenarios. Suppose you and a group of friends are playing football in the backyard. Your friend cannot claim he was assaulted because he got tackled during the game.
In some situations, it could be a matter of mistaken identity. If you can prove that you were not at the scene of the alleged crime, the charges could be dropped. Possible evidence to support a mistaken identity defense is an alibi, video, or photos proving you were elsewhere at the time.
Suppose you slip in a bar and accidentally strike and injure another patron. This could be a valid defense because you lacked the intent, knowledge, or recklessness required for an assault charge. If you injured the person by accident, the charge could be dropped.
Lack Of Evidence
If the prosecution cannot prove your knowledge, intention, or recklessness, you cannot be convicted of assault or battery. If your attorney effectively argues this defense, the charges could be dropped.
What Are Possible Battery Plea Agreements?
If you were charged with battery in Texas, you may be allowed to enter into a plea agreement. This means you plead guilty to the charge, and in exchange, you receive a lesser sentence. Whether you agree to a plea deal is complex, and you should listen to your attorney’s advice. However, taking a plea deal can be beneficial because you can receive a lesser sentence and avoid the time and expense of a trial. Potential plea deals for an assault or battery charge might be:
Plea With No Jail Time
It is possible to avoid jail time for a simple assault or battery charge if you have a clean record and the case was not severe. In this case, you might get a deferred sentence and receive probation with no jail time. You might not even have a criminal record for a simple assault or battery charge, so it may be wise to take this deal if it is presented. Once you finish probation and do not commit another crime, it may be as if the incident never happened.
Plea With Jail Time
If you have a criminal history or there are aggravating circumstances, it is unlikely that your full sentence will be deferred. You could get a shorter jail sentence if you plead guilty.
These plea deals could be beneficial in some situations with strong evidence against you. But you should always listen to the advice of your experienced Galveston battery attorney. He will thoroughly explain your options and guide you in making this critical decision.
Repeat Assault Or Battery Charges
For a first-time offender, a simple assault or battery charge can often lead to a favorable outcome, and you could even avoid jail time. But the outlook of the court changes if you are a repeat offender. If you have a previous assault or battery record, you will probably have to serve jail time on the second or subsequent offense. Community supervision will likely be revoked if you were on probation for your last charge. If the earlier charge was a felony, the current charge will probably be upgraded, and you will be tried for a second or first-degree felony.
The consequences of repeat assault or battery charges can be dire in Texas. Therefore, it is vital to retain an experienced battery attorney in Galveston as soon as you are charged. Even with an extensive criminal history, an experienced criminal defense attorney is invaluable for preserving liberty.
However, even a first-time assault or battery charge is a serious matter. You could avoid jail time, but a conviction is a serious black mark on your record that can dog you for years. You should always have an experienced defense attorney fighting for you, whether it is your first, second, or subsequent charge.
Contact Our Galveston Battery Attorney Now
Were you charged with assault or battery in Galveston recently? You face severe consequences if convicted, which could affect your life for years. That is why it is essential to retain an attorney today, and our Galveston battery attorney at Mark Diaz & Associates can provide a robust defense. Contact our law office for a consultation today at (409) 515-6170.