Some of the cases that arise in the Dallas-Fort Worth area’s criminal courts are those that allege assault. In simple terms, an assault is any unauthorized physical contact with another person that causes an injury or offense.
However, it is also possible to face assault charges even if physical contact never occurs. A person may still commit an assault if they merely threaten bodily harm against another. It is easy to see why people may be confused as to why they are facing charges alleging assault.
A Dallas assault and violence lawyer can help to explain the legal concept of assault and why the local prosecutor has chosen to pursue the case. Armed with this knowledge, an attorney may be able to act to protect your rights in court and to pursue a more favorable outcome. Call the Law Offices of Randall B. Isenberg at (214) 696-9253 to see how we may be able to help you.
The Legal Definitions of Assault
Every criminal accusation in Dallas must have its basis in state law, and assault is no exception. According to Texas Penal Code § 22.01, an assault can occur in three ways.
The simplest is when a person “intentionally, knowingly, or recklessly causes bodily injury to another.” A clear example includes reaching out and slapping another person. Similarly, it is illegal to make any physical contact with another person when that contact is reasonably “provocative or offensive,” even if that contact does not cause bodily harm. Under this definition, it is assault when an individual spits on another person. Even though this act does not cause bodily harm, the act is offensive and counts as a violation of the law.
Finally, it is illegal to threaten another person with bodily harm. In our above example of slapping someone, it is just as illegal to slap and miss as it is to make contact if the slapper intended to frighten the other person. A Dallas assault and violence lawyer may be able to work with you to explain the legal concepts behind assault and to craft a defense against the specific accusations in your case.
The Concept of Intent Is Essential in Any Assault Case
One common defense in many assault cases involves the idea of intent. A close reading of the statute linked above shows that the prosecutor needs to prove that not only did a defendant threaten or come into contact with an alleged victim, but also that the defendant acted with the appropriate intent to cause harm. In other words, the defendant must have had the proper state of mind to commit the offense.
For most assault charges, this means proving that the defendant intentionally or knowingly committed the assault. This can mean throwing a punch with the intent to hit another person or knowing that swinging a baseball bat could threaten nearby people.
In other situations, it is possible to face assault charges even if a person did not intend to cause bodily harm. If a person acts recklessly or with blatant disregard for the safety of others and causes an injury, this counts as assault under the language of the statute. The legal team at the Law Offices of Randall B. Isenberg can provide more information about the concept of intent in assault cases and potentially leverage these ideas into defenses against your charges. Call (214) 696-9253 for your free consultation today.
Potential Punishments for a Conviction
The laws that define assault in Dallas are complicated when discussing potential penalties for a conviction. In many cases, an assault is a Class A misdemeanor. The law applies this penalty to situations involving the intentional or reckless infliction of bodily harm. According to Texas Penal Code § 12.21, this means that a conviction can result in a jail sentence of up to one year, a fine of up to $4,000, or both. Additionally, the court may enact a protective order that requires the assailant to remain out of contact with the alleged victim.
In other cases, an assault can be a Class C misdemeanor. This applies when the assault involves the threatening of bodily harm or inappropriate contact that does not result in an injury. Penalties here carry no possible jail term but can involve a fine of up to $500.
However, the seriousness of an assault allegation can quickly rise in specific circumstances. The identity of the alleged victim can be an aggravating factor in assault cases. For example, the assault statute makes an offense a felony of the third degree if the alleged victim is a public servant, such as a court worker on the job, or a member of the defendant’s family or household after a previous conviction for domestic violence. Even more serious penalties apply to assaults that target police officers or judges.
The most serious examples of violence cases allege aggravated assault. Under Texas Penal Code Sec. 22.02, an aggravated assault is an incident that results in serious bodily injury to another person or any assault that involves the use of a deadly weapon. According to Texas Penal Code § 1.07, the definition of serious bodily injury includes a person suffering a substantial risk of death or permanent disfigurement or impairment. Offenses here are always felonies, with the most serious cases carrying a potential for a life sentence. A Dallas assault and violence attorney can examine the nature of your charges and let you know the potential consequences for a conviction.
Reach Out Today to Learn How a Dallas Assault and Violence Lawyer May Be Able to Help You
If you are facing allegations of assault in a Dallas area criminal court, you need to act quickly to protect your rights. Assaults range in seriousness from minor misdemeanors with no jail time to life-altering felonies that carry mandatory minimum prison sentences.
In every case, the prosecutor needs to prove that not only did a defendant cause unwelcome physical contact, or threaten to do so, but also that the defendant intended to commit these acts. A Dallas violence and assault lawyer could help you fight back against these allegations and to create reasonable doubt in the minds of jurors.
Contact the legal team at the Law Offices of Randall B. Isenberg today. We may be able to work with you to understand your side of the story, gather evidence that can help to disprove the prosecutor’s claims and protect your rights in and out of court. Call us today at (214) 696-9253 to discuss your case.