Are You or a Loved One Facing Assault Charges?
In a perfect world there would be no violence at all. Unfortunately, we do not live in a perfect world, nor do all of us behave perfectly in every situation. This means that on occasion we can get overly heated when interacting with others, which can sometimes lead to violence. If you live in Denton County, Texas you may want to know whether residents are in serious trouble if they’re charged with assault and battery in Denton County.
The truth is that the government takes these charges very seriously, so if you are facing such charges you definitely need an experienced attorney to represent you. Also, these charges come with very severe penalties, including incarceration.
What is Legally Considered Criminal Violence in the State of Texas?
In a lot of states criminal violence is separated into two categories, which are assault and battery. That’s not the case in Texas where all charges of criminal violence are categorized as assault charges. All violent crimes fall under a single umbrella charge of assault, whether the allegation is only threatening to injure someone or if they’ve actually inflicted the injury.
Even though all these charges are under a single umbrella charge, there are three levels of charges for assault in Denton County, which are spelled out in Texas law. They are “assault by offensive contact”, “assault causing bodily injury” and the more serious “aggravated assault.”
Assault by Offensive Contact
Assault by Offensive Contact is when the perpetrator threatens someone else with imminent bodily injury or just touches them knowing well that they would consider such a touch to be a provocation or at the very least, offensive. This type of assault is a Class C Misdemeanor and is only punishable by fine only. However, it can create a permanent unattractive public record for a person. Be careful how you handle such a ticket, there can be long-term consequences.
Assault Causing Bodily Injury
Assault Causing Bodily Injury is when the perpetrator knowingly, intentionally, or recklessly injures or inflicts bodily injury on the victim. “Bodily Injury” is defined by law as, “any pain, any impairment or any illness that is the result of an assault.” Under Texas Law, if you strike someone and that strike leaves a red mark, you will be charged with Class A Misdemeanor. Class A Misdemeanors are punishable by up to one year in jail and up to a $4,000 fine. Worse still, if you are adjudicated on a Family Violence Assault, you can never get it off your record. These types of situations are where good lawyers earn their money.
The offense gets elevated to an aggravated assault when a simple assault causes serious bodily injury to the victim or when the perpetrator brandishes or uses a deadly weapon while committing the assault. “Deadly Weapon” is defined by law as, any object or implement that is capable, in the manner of it’s use or intended use, of causing serious bodily injury or death.
Texas law considers “Serious Bodily Injury” to be one that impairs the functioning of any limb or of a bodily organ or leads to the loss of either. It is also any injury that causes a severe or permanent disfigurement of a body part or organ. Also, any injury that poses a serious risk of death or ultimately causes death would constitute serious bodily injury.
Penalties in Texas for People Convicted of Assault
Being charged with assault in Texas is a life-altering experience with penalties being determined by the severity of the assault. Some people get off with just paying a fine, while others face felony-level penalties including prison sentences. If you or a loved one are facing charges for any degree of assault, you need a highly skilled attorney working on your behalf.
The prosecutor assigned to your case will undoubtedly seek the harshest possible punishment. However, if you have an experienced criminal defense attorney by your side he/she can question the prosecution’s witnesses and evidence and hopefully prove your innocence due to self-defense, or at least lessen the severity of your penalties.
Here are some of the penalties associated with various assault charges:
Assault by Offensive Contact
This misdemeanor offense involves someone threatening another person, but they never actually carry out those threats. For example, they threaten bodily injury or touch the other person offensively or provocatively, but they do not actually injure them.
The perpetrator of this type of offense can be allowed to go free by just paying a fine of no more than $500. This level of assault is the only one that does not come with jail time.
Class A Misdemeanor Assault Causing Bodily Injury
A class A assault occurs when the perpetrator knowingly, intentionally or recklessly commits the assault, which causes pain to the victim without their consent. The penalty for those convicted of such an assault would include sitting in jail for up to a year plus paying a fine of no more than $4,000.
When the assault is perpetrated on a public servant, governmental official, security officer, or emergency personnel, the assault is elevated to a third-degree felony. This crime comes with a prison sentence of anywhere from two to 10 years plus a fine that could reach $10,000.
When someone assaults an emergency worker or security officer who is on duty doing their job as laid out in their government contract, the assault is a second-degree felony.
Furthermore, assaulting an officer or team member in a correctional facility who is doing their job as laid out in their government contract, the assault is a second-degree felony.
Also, someone who commits assault family violence when they have previously been convicted of assault family violence means that they can now be charged with third-degree felony assault. Moreover, an assault that restricts the victim’s breathing, escalates into violence, would also be considered under Texas law a third-degree felony.
Penalties for Aggravated Assault
There are two levels of charges and penalties for aggravated assaults: first-degree felony and second-degree felony. Both felony assault convictions come with a fine of up to $10,000.
A conviction of first-degree felony aggravated assault comes with a prison sentence anywhere from five to 99 years or Life. A second-degree felony aggravated assault conviction can be penalized with prison time lasting anywhere from two to 20 years.
There is also serious collateral damage to the lives of convicted felons. For example, you can lose the right to hold public office, to vote in this country, or even have firearms.
Finding a job could also be difficult, because many companies do background checks, and you will have to explain your record. Also, it can also be more difficult to qualify for a home loan when you have a felony record.
Being Charged with Assault Does Not Mean a Conviction
People have accidents every day of the week, and if someone else is involved in your accident they can take it the wrong way and end up saying that you assaulted them. Sometimes people blow things out of proportion hoping the justice system will look favorably on them. This often happens when punitive damages are in play and in child custody cases.
Therefore, if you’ve been charged with assault, that doesn’t mean you actually committed the crime and should be found guilty. This is why our justice system allows time for an investigation looking into the facts before taking someone to trial and asking a judge or jury to determine whether or not they’re guilty.
A highly skilled attorney can represent you, scour the evidence, witness statements, and the circumstances surrounding your case. Then he/she can devise a persuasive defense that can prove your innocence. In the absence of that, there is a good chance that an experienced criminal attorney can strike a deal with the prosecution that avoids the uncertainty of a trial.
How Long Do Criminal Cases in Texas Take Before the Trial Starts?
When you are charged with assault in Denton County, TX your attorney can try resolving your case out of court or help you reach a settlement with the victim.
However, getting these types of cases dropped is very difficult, so you have to plan on going to court. If you have been charged with assault, your trial should start within six months of when you were arrested. Depending on how complex your case is, it could actually take up to a year.
Denton County Assault Charges Attorney
Whether you are totally innocent of the charges or may be guilty, your safest bet is to hire an experienced criminal defense attorney to help you navigate the justice system. At the Peugh Law Firm, we go above and beyond to defend our clients while ensuring that they avoid any pitfalls that may be encountered along the way.
Please contact us today to schedule a free consultation, so that we can take a hard look at the evidence in your case and see where the holes might be.