Daniel Peugh is a former Chief Prosecutor for the Denton County Criminal District Attorney’s Office. He has an insider’s knowledge of local Judges, Prosecutors, and Probation Officers. At The Peugh Law Firm we try cases and we get jury verdicts. Our ability to make our case before judges and juries benefits all of our clients at every level of representation. Most of our clients do not go to trial. Still, the plea bargain offers our clients receive are based in large part on what the prosecutors know we can do if the case goes to trial.
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The different types of criminal assault are listed on the table below along with their punishments. As you are reviewing the chart to find the charge that interests you, know that I have handled everyone of these types of assault and, in most cases, I have handled more of the specific type of case than I can count. As you scroll down through the written materials you will find information about the different types of assault in the order that they appear on the chart. In other words, the Murder information is towards the bottom of this page. (Sexual Offenses such as Sexual Assault and Indecency with a Child are listed farther below.)
Assault Offensive Contact
Class C Misdemeanor
Fine Only up to $500
Assault Causes Bodily Injury
Any pain or impairment
(blood, bruisng, red mark)
Class A Misdemeanor
$0 – $4,000 fine, and
0-365 days in jail
Assault Causes Bodily Injury Family Violence
Any pain or impairment
(blood, bruisng, red mark)
Class A Misdemeanor
Can be Ennhanced
$0 – $4,000 fine, and
0-365 days in jail
Assault Causes Bodily Injury Family Violence second Offense or More Impeding Breath or Circulation
Any pain or impairment and a prior for Assault Family Violence Commonly known as a “choking” case
Third Degree Felony
2 – 10 years in TDCJ
Assault on a Public Servant
Any pain or impairment and the victim is a public servant
Third Degree Felony
2 – 10 years in TDCJ
Deadly weapon used or serious bodily injury results
Second Degree Felony
2 – 20 years in TDCJ
Causing Victim’s Death
First Degree Felony
5 – 99 years or Life in TDCJ
Life without parole TDCJ Or the Death Penalty
Assault – Family Violence
By far the most commonly alleged assaultive crime is Class A Misdemeanor Assault Causes Bodily Injury involving a Family Member. This is what the charge means:
Bodily injury- is defined as any pain, illness, or physical impairment. Physical impairment has been defined to include something as slight as a red mark.
Family Member- has been defined to include current spouse, ex-spouse, children, anyone that lives in the same household as the accused, someone you are dating, someone you used to date, and someone with whom you have a child.
These charges most often result when two people who are married or dating get into a heated argument. When that argument escalates into grabbing, pushing, pulling, or hitting and someone calls the police, Class A Assault Family Violence Charges result.
Most of the time, when the police are called someone is going to jail. Usually, it is the male that is arrested. Even when the other party does not wish to press charges, Family Violence is an area where the State completely takes over. The police will take over in the beginning making arrests even when alleged victims do not want an arrest made
To gain release from jail a person accused of Assault-Family Violence will have to post some type of bond. Whether the person posts all the money himself or hires a bonding company, the bond process costs money.
In addition, assault family violence cases can result in an accused person having special conditions placed on his or her release from jail. One condition can be to not return to the residence of the victim. If the accused and the victim live at the same residence, the accused cannot go home without violating his or her bond conditions and risking re-arrest.
It is also common for victims of alleged Family Violence to seek Protective Orders in District Court. Alleged victims do this because the Prosecutor’s Office will represent alleged victims in protective order cases for free. Do not let a protective order be taken against you. Fight it. Issued Protective Orders carry many harsh consequences. The Order itself will include a finding that “family violence has occurred and is likely to occur again.” That is on your public record. You may be required to pay for and complete long and expensive “Batter’s” classes. You can be Ordered not to live in your own home if the person seeking the Order lives with you. If you work at the same job as the person seeking the Order, you can be ordered not to go to work.
Protective Orders can make it illegal for you to possess a firearm under federal law. This provision can subject you to federal prosecution. Violation of a Protective Order is, at best, a Class A Misdemeanor carrying up to one year in jail under State Law. If it is alleged that you have violated a protective order violently, you will be charged with a felony. You can face prison time for alleged violations of protective orders.
Unique Family Violence Consequences
In addition to Protective Orders, Family Violence allegations carrying a number of consequences that are not a concern with other types of cases.
Enhancement- Family Violence Assault charges can be enhanced so that the punishment for a second or subsequent Family Violence Charge is much more severe than a first offense. If it is alleged that you have committed Assault Family Violence and in can be shown in Court that you have been previously been convicted or placed on probation for Assault Family Violence, you will face Third Degree Felony charges.
Protective Orders- See above.
Divorce and Child Custody – allegations of Assault Family Violence can have serious effects on Divorce and Child Custody cases. Among the things that Family Violence can effect are; appointment of a managing conservator for children, visitation rights to children, the division of property in a divorce, the payment of spousal maintenance, child support, and protective orders and restraining orders can issue as a part of a Divorce or Child Custody Action.
Gun Laws – A conviction or probation for an Assault Family Violence can make it illegal for a person to possess a firearm under Federal Law. Hence, an Assault Family Violence charge can subject you to Federal prosecution and restrict your Second Amendment Rights.
Immigration – allegations of Assault Family Violence can effect an immigrant’s status in this country including resulting in deportation, exclusion, or denial of naturalization. Whereas, person’s believed to be victims of Family Violence can be allowed to remain in this country even if their current status in the country is illegal.
What if the victim does not want to press charges?
The fact that the victim does not want to press charges is good but, not great. It is good because it means that there will not be an angry victim preventing the prosecutor from giving you a break. It is also true that prosecutors will take into consideration a victim’s wishes when deciding how to settle a case.
It is not great in that it will not, by itself, result in the charges being dismissed. Most prosecutor’s offices now have a “no drop” policy when it comes to Assault Family Violence. These “no drop” policies assume that Family Violence victims are unwilling or unable to defend themselves and therefore the State must defend them through the Criminal Justice System. Further, prosecutors have learned that, in trial, it is better to have a fragile victim opposed to you than to have a vindictive victim trying to help you. Jurors will want to help the prosecutors help the fragile and jurors will not want to help a person who comes off as vengeful. As a result, prosecutors do not need the victim legally or factually when they are prosecuting Family Violence Assault.
Prosecutors will look at four things when deciding how to handle an Assault Family Violence Case. First, they will assess how severe an assault was committed. Bodily Injury, as defined above, is a very wide range. A case with two black-eyes and a lot of blood will be handled differently than a case where the injuries are a red mark on the skin or pain from pulled hair.
Second, they will look at how easy it will be to prove the accused guilty. This is a matter of amount and quality of available evidence. If the case is a “lay down” win, the defendant is going to feel it. Conversely, if the prosecutors are afraid they will lose at trial, anything can happen with the case. Obviously, better attorneys instill more fear of a not guilty and get better deals.
Third, prosecutors look at how bad a person the defendant is. How, many arrests and convictions does the accused have? Is this assault part of a larger crime spree? Worse, was this guy on parole for murder when he beat this person up? Prosecutors sometimes take “bad guys” to trial even when they think they’ll lose to avoid the appearance of giving an “undeserving” person a break.
Finally, prosecutors do consider whether or not the alleged victim wants to prosecute. All four of these factors can weigh in the defendant’s favor, with the right representation. All four of these factors can be an opportunity missed, if you employ the wrong lawyer.
There are many legally recognized defenses to assaultive conduct and they apply equally to Assault Family Violence. Your attorney needs to know and have experience with all possible defenses. You are not guilty just because someone says you did it and the police arrested you. Moreover, you are not automatically guilty just because you are a man and the alleged victim is a woman. Self-defense is a common defense to all forms of assault including Assault-Family Violence. You are still legally allowed to defend yourself even if you are a man and you are defending yourself against a woman.
In my practice I am seeing more and more Assault Family Violence cases that can be defended by simply arguing, “it just didn’t happen.” As mentioned above, there are a lot of politics involved in Family Violence cases. I have represented clients who were falsely accused of assault simply because the allegation gave the accuser some desired benefit. I tried a case in Denton County a while back where, in trial, it became clear that there was just no evidence of assault. On cross examination the State’s witnesses had to admit that there were no pictures of injury, no medical records of injury, and no eyewitnesses to the alleged assault other than the female accuser and my client.
On cross-examination of the “victim,” she admitted that she was in America on a student visa, her visa had expired, and she was in the country illegally. Under further questioning, she admitted that she had met with an immigration lawyer and learned that “if she reported being a victim of family violence, she could stay in the country.” The “victim” admitted that she met with the immigration lawyer days before making the assault complaint to police and weeks after the assault allegedly occurred. The jury had no problem finding my client not guilty and he never even had to take the witness stand.
Every lawyer has heard of self-defense but, how many have really worked with it? How many lawyers have really sold a difficult defense case to a hostile jury? The answer is not many. You can make a lot of money as a defense attorney without ever trying a case. Lawyers all too often avoid trial. That is a disservice to clients who can prevail at trial and should have their day in court. It is also a disservice to clients who, “just want to plea and get it over with.” The prosecutors know who does and who does not try cases. That knowledge goes directly into every plea bargain offer. Make sure the attorney representing you is getting respect during the negotiation process. Hire me.
What if I did it?
OK, I admit it. Real people do not like trials. Only the mutants that we call lawyers like trials. Even if you feel very strongly that you did what you are accused of, hire a good lawyer. Criminal Defense, as much as I like to brag, is not all “not guilty” verdicts and dismissals. A big part of what I do for a living, my favorite part, is helping good people that just messed up. At one time in my career I was a bulldog of a prosecutor. I know very well that prosecutors, particularly the young ones, can think that they are saving the world by throwing good people to the wolves. You must have good representation. You do not need to be “made an example of.” The fact that I do try cases and that I do get verdicts will be respected in the plea bargain negotiations. My thorough investigations always turn up defensive issues that, at least, encourage prosecutors to offer a better plea bargain.
Assault Family Violence with a Prior Family Violence Charge
If you are charged with Assault Family Violence and you have been previously convicted or placed on probation for Assault Family Violence, you are facing a Third Degree Felony. The punishment is not less than 2 years and not more than 10 years in the penitentiary. The stakes are higher than with a first offense Assault Family Violence charge but, I find, the same defenses apply to these cases. If you haven’t already, read the above information on Assault Family Violence cases. You will find that the above information will be helpful with your felony charge. Get an experienced attorney who can use the 4 factors in an Assault Family Violence case in your favor. Get an attorney who has tried these cases and knows how to present a defense that will help a jury find you not guilty.
Assault Causes Bodily Injury
Assault Causes Bodily Injury without a Family Violence allegation is a Class A misdemeanor. Such an Assault is not subject to enhancement meaning, it will never be more than a misdemeanor. It is not steeped in politics as Family Violence cases are but, prosecutors still take them seriously.
The same defenses apply to regular Assault as apply to Family Violence Assault. Review the Assault Family Violence information above and you will get a good idea of what to expect with your regular assault case. You should have an attorney experienced in Assault trials representing you to get your best possible outcome.
Attorneys who have tried assault cases know how juries view them. That knowledge can make a big difference. For example, is it a same sex assault case? Is this two guys getting in a fight at a football game? Juries have strong feelings about this type of case and those feelings do not favor the prosecution. Can you attorney take advantage of that? I have.
Rely on Daniel K. Peugh for Comprehensive
Criminal & DWI Defense in Denton, Texas
Assault on a Public Servant
Assault on a public servant is the same as a regular assault case except that the victim is a public servant. These charges are almost always a situation where a person has hit or kicked a police officer. When that happens, the assault becomes a Third Degree Felony and carries a punishment of not less than 2 and not more than 10 years in the penitentiary. The stakes are higher than with a regular assault but, I find, the same defenses and even more apply to these cases. You should have an attorney experienced in Assault on a Public Servant and Resisting Arrest trials representing you to get your best possible outcome.
Attorneys who have tried these two types of cases know how juries view them. That knowledge can make a big difference. I have questioned prospective jurors for both Assault on a Public Servant cases and for Resisting Arrest cases Juries have strong feelings about this type of case and those feelings do not favor the prosecution. Can you attorney take advantage of that? I have.
Aggravated Assault is a Second Degree Felony. It carries a punishment of not less than 2 years and not more than 20 years in the penitentiary. Aggravated Assaults are most often alleged to have occurred in one of two ways. First, if a deadly weapon was used in the commission of an assault it is an Aggravated Assault.
Deadly Weapon- is defined as anything that in the manner of its use or intended use is capable of causing serious bodily injury or death. Most often this will be knives, clubs, and firearms.
A second way to be charged with Aggravated Assault is to cause serious bodily injury.
Serious Bodily Injury- is defined as bodily injury that creates a substantial risk of death or that causes death, serious permanent disfigurement, or protracted loss or impairment of the function of any bodily member or organ.
There are many defenses to assaultive conduct including Aggravated Assault. You are allowed to defend yourself. You are allowed to defend another person. You are allowed to defend your property. Your attorney should not only know these defenses but also have experience in arguing these defenses. The punishments for Aggravated Assault can be harsh so, the stakes are high. Does your attorney know what a “display case” is and how it differs from other Aggravated Assault cases? He or she should.
Murder is a first degree felony with a punishment range of not less than 5 years in the penitentiary and not more than 99 years or life in prison. Obviously, the stakes are very high with this type of case. Defending a murder charge requires resources. You must hire a talented attorney and you must pay for the attorney to commit the time, energy, and effort to this serious allegation.
Realistically, an attorney cannot defend a murder case alone. The State will have a minimum of one expert on every murder case. That expert is the coroner. The coroner determines the cause of death and he or she must be challenged. Depending on the facts, the State can also produce crime scene investigation experts, ballistics experts, fingerprint experts, DNA experts, mechanics of injury experts, and toxicologists to name just a few. You will need a defense team to have your best chance for a favorable outcome in a murder case.
I routinely add experts of my own to my defense team. I have worked with coroners, ballistics experts, DNA experts, and many others. I am not intimidated by the prosecution team. I have the experience and connections to put together a formidable defense team. The good news is it can be done. The bad news is the cost of defense on this type of case can be very high.
All that is true for defending a murder case is true for defending a capital murder case and then some. There are only two possible punishments for capital murder. If the State is not seeking the death penalty then, the only punishment a person convicted of capital murder can receive is life in prison without the possibility of parole. If the State is seeking the death penalty then, a jury will decide whether or not the convicted person receives life in prison without the possibility of parole or a death sentence.
Aggravated Sexual Assault of a Child,
Sexual Assault, and Indecency with a Child, Etc.
Follow this link to review Attorney Daniel Peugh’s published work on Sexual Offenses.
These, and related offenses, are known collectively as sexual offenses. Sexual Offenses range in seriousness from third degree felonies (2 to 10 tears in TDCJ) to so called “super aggravated” offenses that carry a mandatory minimum of 25 years in prison without the possibility of parole.
All of these offenses carry with them the requirement of publicly registering as a sex offender, usually for life. In addition, when multiple allegations are made (as is common) the law allows for the punishments assessed on persons found guilty to be stacked upon each other. Stacking sentences, also known as running sentences consecutively, means that a person who receives a sentence of 20 years in prison on one charge and 15 years in prison on another charge will have to serve and discharge the twenty year sentence before he or she even begins getting credit toward the 15 year sentence. Further, many of these offenses carry special requirements for getting paroled from prison. In most cases, the law will require that a person serve at least one half of his or her sentence before he or she will become eligible for parole.
Obviously, the stakes are very high with this type of case. Defending a sexual offense requires resources. You must hire a talented attorney and you must pay for the attorney to commit the time, energy, and effort to this serious allegation.
Realistically, an attorney cannot defend a sex offense case alone. The State will have a minimum of one expert on every murder case. That expert is the sexual assault nurse. The sexual assault nurse does the examination of the alleged victim after an offense is reported and he or she must be challenged. Depending on the facts, the State can also produce crime scene investigation experts, fingerprint experts, DNA experts, mechanics of injury experts, and toxicologists to name just a few. You will need a defense team to have your best chance for a favorable outcome in a sex offense.
I routinely add experts of my own to my defense team. I have worked with nurses, mechanics of injury experts, DNA experts, and many others. I am not intimidated by the prosecution team. I have the experience and connections to put together a formidable defense team. The good news is it can be done. The bad news is the cost of defense on this type of case can be very high.