Under Texas Penal Code Ch 22.01–Assault, an individual has committed a misdemeanor if they intentionally, knowingly, or recklessly:
- Caused bodily injury to another
- Threatened bodily injury to another
- Caused physical contact with another when you know the action will be seen as provocative or offensive.
If the assault was on specific subsets of people such as police officers, judges, security personnel, emergency response personnel, the elderly, the disabled, and public servants, you could be charged with aggravated assault. The definition of assault is broad and can include telling a person that you are going to physically harm them and having that person be afraid.
The charges can be severe if aggravating factors exist, such as causing injury to a family member or the injuries being severe enough to necessitate a hospital stay. Aggravated assault may be a second-degree felony in Texas and can be punishable by up to 20 years in prison.
Defenses to Penal Code Ch 22.01–Assault Charges
There are three types of defenses if you have been charged with Texas Penal Code Ch 22.01–Assault. They are:
- Disputing the evidence: this occurs when your attorney tries to invalidate the prosecution’s evidence based on the facts of your case. He or she may say that the state violated your civil rights, or it was a case of mistaken identity, or that the prosecutors failed to prove the charge or an element of the charge.
- Affirmative defense: if you admit to the offense but can offer evidence that your actions were legally justified, your lawyer can offer an affirmative defense to help get your charges reduced, the fines and penalties reduced, or the charge entirely dismissed.
- Self-defense: self-defense is the act of using threats or force to defend yourself.
To be arrested on the spot by law enforcement for assault, the police must witness you in the act of assaulting someone. If they are not there, they may issue a citation for you to appear in court, or they may get an arrest warrant from a judge. If this was a domestic assault, the police could arrest you on the spot.
The Process Following a Texas Assault Arrest
If you have been arrested for assault, you will appear before a judge or magistrate who will read the charges and inform you of your rights, such as the right to have an attorney present and the right to remain silent. You will also have the right to an examining trial, where the prosecution must establish the reasons for your arrest. The judge will then set bail, or you may be released on your own recognizance. The judge will inform you of your next court appearance.
You may be charged with a:
- Class C misdemeanor for threatening bodily harm or offensive physical contact
- Class B misdemeanor for assaulting a sports participant
- Class A misdemeanor for causing bodily injury to an elderly person
- Third-degree felony for assaulting a family member or other protected status individuals. This also includes intoxicated assault, assaulting someone while intoxicated.
- Second-degree felony for assaulting a family member by choking them
- First-degree felony is aggravated assault against a domestic partner or other protected status individuals.
- Aggravated assault applies if the injuries were severe or a weapon was used in the commission of the assault.
The Arraignment of an Assault Charge
The arraignment is your first court hearing after you are charged. You will then enter a plea of guilty or not guilty. At this point, your attorney or the prosecution may ask for a continuance in order to further investigate your case. If you and your attorney decide to request a plea deal for reduced charges, and the decision remains unclear, your case will proceed to a trial.
The Trial of an Assault Charge
A misdemeanor case has six jurors, and a felony case has 12 jurors. The prosecution must prove that you are guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. If you are convicted, the fines and penalties may be:
- Up to $500 for a Class C misdemeanor
- Up to 180 days in jail and a fine of up to $2,000 for a Class B misdemeanor
- Up to 1 year in jail and a fine of up to $4,000 for a Class A misdemeanor
- Up to 10 years in prison and a fine of up to $10,000 for a third-degree felony
- From 2 to 20 years in prison and a fine of up to $10,000 for a second-degree felony
- From 5 years to life in prison plus a fine set by the judge
If you have been arrested on a simple Texas Penal Code Ch 22.01–Assault charge or a felony assault charge, you deserve to have an attorney on your side. Call the legal team at the Law Offices of Randall B. Isenberg at (214) 696-9253 to get the help you need.