A conviction for aggravated assault or deadly misconduct becomes part of your permanent criminal record. If you are convicted later of another crime, the court can consider your prior conviction and impose a harsher sentence in the new case. A conviction for a violent crime – even a misdemeanor – can hurt you when you are looking for a job or applying to rent a house or apartment. A convicted felon loses the right to vote and carry firearms and can lose certain professional licenses.
An experienced attorney can determine whether you have any grounds for dismissal of the charges against you, explore plea options or represent you at trial. Only someone familiar with the local criminal court system and cases like yours will know how good your chances are for a favorable outcome in court or at the negotiating table. Kirk F. Lechtenberger is a knowledgeable attorney who will take all of this into consideration, assist you in making decisions about your case, and protect your rights.
What is Assault?
Under the criminal laws of Texas, assault can be charged if you:
- Intentionally, knowingly, or recklessly cause bodily injury to someone else, including your spouse.
- Intentionally or knowingly threaten someone else, including your spouse, with imminent bodily injury.
- Intentionally or knowingly cause physical contact with another when the person knows or should reasonably believe that the other will regard the contact as offensive or provocative.
That means not only can you be charged for punching, kicking or choking someone during a fight, but if you tell someone you are going to beat them up, and that person has a reasonable fear that you are able and about to do it, you can be charged with assault.
And not only that, but just poking someone in the chest with your finger can be considered assault. Surprised about that? The police may arrest you on assault charges after an argument if they are called by neighbors, or just happen to be nearby.
In many cases, the police may arrest you with very little evidence if they feel you are being belligerent or difficult. That doesn’t mean you committed a crime, however, and you should seriously consider fighting the charges to keep your record clean. No one should be stuck with a permanent criminal record just for getting in a heated argument. Call us to get your case evaluated and to find out how we can defend you and keep your record clean.
Misdemeanor Assault and Felony Assault
Normally, a simple assault that results in minor injury is a Class A misdemeanor, punishable by not more than 1 year in a county jail and/or a fine of not more than $4,000. However, prosecutors can bump it up to a third-degree felony – 2 to 10 years in a Texas prison and/or a fine of not more than $10,000 – in some cases.
If you are charged with simple assault, it can become a third-degree felony if the state proves that you:
- Committed the assault against a family member or someone with whom you are in a romantic relationship, and you have a previous domestic violence conviction.
- Knew the person was a public servant or government contractor carrying out official duties, or you committed the assault on a public servant in retaliation for doing his job.
- Knew the person was a security guard or emergency services worker, and you committed the assault while the person was doing his job.
When the assault involves only touching or threatening, it’s a Class C misdemeanor, for which the penalty is a fine of up to $500. But the criminal charge can become more serious under some circumstances with aggravating factors. For example, the assault becomes a Class A misdemeanor if the victim is elderly and becomes a Class B misdemeanor if the victim is a sports official.
Assault with a Weapon / Aggravated Assault
The stakes also go up if you are charged with causing serious injury or using a weapon while committing assault. Aggravated assault is a second-degree felony, and the penalty is 2 to 20 years in a Texas prison and/or a fine of up to $10,000.
Aggravated assault can become a first-degree felony, with a penalty of 5 years to life, in cases of domestic violence, or if the assault was committed against a public official, security guard, informant, or witness to a crime.