Facing Charges of Aggravated Assault with a Deadly Weapon in Texas?
Aggravated assault in Texas is classified as a violent crime that can result in severe penalties. If you are facing aggravated assault charges, turn to Cofer & Connelly, PLLC’s criminal defense attorneys for a powerful defense.
Due to the impact that aggravated assault may have on someone, you may be wondering the following:
- What is the difference between aggravated assault and assault?
- What is a deadly weapon?
- What are the penalties for aggravated assault?
- What are the defenses to aggravated assault?
What is Aggravated Assault in Texas?
The Texas Penal Code harshly penalizes individuals found guilty of committing aggravated assault. Under Texas law Sec. 22.01, an assault occurs when someone does the following:
- Intentionally, knowingly, or recklessly causes bodily injury to another person;
- Intentionally, knowingly, or recklessly threatens to cause imminent bodily injury to another person; or
- Intentionally, knowingly, or recklessly causes offensive or provocative physical contact with another person.
Definition of a Deadly Weapon in Texas
According to Texas law, a deadly weapon is considered the following:
- A firearm or anything designed, made, or adapted for the purpose of inflicting death or serious injury to another person; or
- Anything that in the manner of its use or intended use is capable of causing death or serious injury to another person.
As a result, a deadly weapon is anything that could cause death or serious injury to another person. So, for example, if an individual was trained in martial arts, their fists could qualify as deadly weapons. If the said individual got into a fight with someone, they could potentially be charged with aggravated assault because their fists are a deadly weapon.
Definition of a Serious Bodily Injury in Texas
Under Texas law, a serious bodily injury is an injury that creates a risk of death or causes death, serious permanent disfigurement, or a long-lasting loss or impairment.
What are the Penalties for Aggravated Assault with a Deadly Weapon in Texas?
Generally, an aggravated assault is charged as a second-degree felony; however, in someone circumstances, the offender can be charged with a first-degree felony, which may result in the following penalties:
- Second-Degree Felony: A second-degree felony can result in two to twenty years in prison and a fine of up to $10,000.
- First-Degree Felony: A first-degree felony can result in life in prison and a fine of up to $10,000.
In some situations, a skilled aggravated assault defense attorney will work to get the aggravated assault charge lowered or reduced to a third-degree felony or a misdemeanor. Reducing the charge may result in less severe penalties such as:
- Third-Degree Felony: A third-degree felony can result in two to ten years in prison and a fine of up to $10,000.
- Class A Misdemeanor: Class A misdemeanors are the most serious misdemeanor classification and may result in up to 12 months in jail and a fine of up to $4,000.
- Class B Misdemeanor: A class B misdemeanor may result in up to 180 days in county jail and up to a $2,000 fine.
- Class C Misdemeanor: A class C misdemeanor is the least serious misdemeanor classification and generally does not result in jail time but a fine of up to $500.
Collateral Consequences for an Aggravated Assault Conviction
In addition to fines and jail time, an individual may also bear the burden of the following consequences:
- Inability to legally own or possess a firearm;
- Ineligibility for certain professional certifications;
- Inability to receive certain federal loans;
- Inability to rent or buy a home in certain areas or through certain companies; and
- Restraining order restrictions.
Unfortunately, being convicted of a felony may follow someone for the rest of their life even after they have paid their fines and done their time.
Can I be Convicted of Aggravated Assault with a Deadly Weapon in Texas and Get Probation?
While it may be unlikely to receive probation for aggravated assault with a deadly weapon, it may be possible with an experienced Austin aggravated assault attorney. Generally, the judge decides to sentence an individual to probation rather than sentence them to prison or jail time. If someone is given probation, they are required to follow a strict set of rules. Failure to follow the rules may result in the probation being revoked and a prison sentence being imposed. Examples of restrictions that may be placed on someone given probation are:
- Cannot possess a firearm;
- Cannot be arrested for anything;
- Must pass random and/or routine drug and alcohol tests;
- Perform a set number of community service hours;
- Check in regularly with an assigned probation officer.
It is important to note that an assault such as sexual assault cannot result in a probation sentence because of the nature of the crime.
Can Aggravated Assault Charges Be Dropped in Texas?
Yes, aggravated assault charges in Texas can potentially be dropped. However, the decision ultimately rests with the prosecutor handling the case and, in some cases, the court if a judge determines that there is insufficient evidence or legal basis for the charges. The alleged victim has no authority to drop the case/charges themselves.
Based on evidence, witness statements, and a variety of other factors, the prosecutor determines whether to proceed with or dismiss the charges. They assess the strength of the case and consider factors such as the severity of the alleged assault, the defendant's criminal history, and the interests of justice.
Once charges have been filed, the decision to drop them is not guaranteed. In cases where there is strong evidence or significant harm involved, prosecutors may choose to pursue the charges even if the alleged victim no longer wishes to proceed.
Defenses to Aggravated Assault with a Deadly Weapon in Texas
First and foremost, the prosecution must prove that there was an assault, meaning there had to be intent, knowledge, or recklessness involved when someone was threatened, injured, or put in fear of being seriously injured.
As an example, the defendant had a cell phone in their hand while entering a bank. The teller believed it was a gun and thought their life was in danger. The teller called the police, and the defendant was charged with assault with a deadly weapon. In this scenario, it would be difficult for the prosecution to prove that the defendant had the intent to make someone believe their life was in danger. Therefore, if the prosecution cannot prove or the defense can show that there was no intent, knowledge, or recklessness, then it is likely that the charge will be dismissed.
Additionally, an experienced aggravated assault attorney in Austin will evaluate the facts of the case and attempt to use the following defenses, if available.
- No Serious Bodily Injury: One of the requirements of aggravated assault is serious bodily injury. Therefore, an aggravated assault case will likely be dismissed if there was no serious bodily injury.
- Self-Defense or Defense of Others: Another defense is self-defense or defense of others. If someone believes their life or someone else’s life is in imminent danger and they “assault” the aggressor, it can be considered self-defense or self-defense of others.
- No Weapon Present: Another requirement of aggravated assault may be that there was a deadly weapon present. Therefore, if the defense can prove that there was no weapon during the commission of the assault, then the case may be lowered to assault, resulting in fewer penalties.
- Defense of Property: Texas is considered a "Stand Your Ground" state, meaning someone does not need to retreat when approached aggressively. Therefore, a self-defense claim can be made even if someone is on public property and does not retreat when they can.
Texas Aggravated Assault Statute of Limitations
The statute of limitations requires that a claim be brought within a specific amount of time after the incident, or it will be dismissed because the statute of limitations period has run. The statute of limitations aims to ensure that false accusations are not made years after an incident when there is less evidence to make or disprove a case.
Unless otherwise specified in statutes, the statute of limitations for most felonies is three years. This means that within three years of the incident or discovering the identity of the offender, whichever is later. However, the discovery must be reasonable there, meaning that the clock will begin when it becomes reasonable that the identity should have been discovered. As a result, if the incident occurred and the identity was reasonably available at that time, then the prosecution would have three years from the date of the incident to file a complaint. Failure to do so will result in the case being dismissed once it is brought.
Defense from Experienced Aggravated Assault Attorneys in Austin, TX
Our Austin aggravated assault attorneys here at Cofer & Connelly, PLLC have a track record of success defending individuals charged with violent crimes, including aggravated assault. Our success is due to our ability to defend our clients strategically, aggressively, and innovatively. Do not take a chance on your future by trusting just any lawyer to defend you against the charges.
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