Assault and domestic violence charges that generally refer to crimes that may cause, threaten, or provoke injuries or violence against other people. The seriousness of any bodily injuries incurred by the victim, the intent and/or recklessness of the offender, how offensive or provocative any threats or contact made by the offender were, and who the victim was in any given case are all pivotal factors that will determine the severity of the offense and the penalties at stake. Depending on the particulars of the offense, some assault offenses may be charged as misdemeanors, while more serious assaults, particularly those of the domestic violence nature, will be prosecuted as felonies.
Assault crimes are generally separated into simple and aggravated assault crimes, with penalties varying depending on the circumstances and severity of the offense.
Simple Assault Crimes
In Texas, a simple assault crime consists of:
- Intentionally, knowingly, or recklessly causing bodily injury to another person
- Intentionally or knowingly threatening another person with imminent bodily injury, or
- Intentionally or knowingly causing physical contact with another that the offender knows or reasonably should know the victim will find provocative or offensive
Among these crimes, charges and penalties can significantly differ:
A simple assault will be charged as a Class C misdemeanor if…
- The offense mainly consists of threats of physical harm or offensive contact.
This charge is punishable by a fine of up to $500.
A simple assault will be charged as a Class B misdemeanor if…
- The offender knows that the victim is an athlete or sports official participating in a sporting event at the time of the assault
- The offender assaults the victim in retaliation for his performance in the athletic event
This charge is punishable by up to 180 days in jail and/or a fine of up to $2,000.
A simple assault will be charged as a Class A misdemeanor if…
- The offender causes bodily injury to the victim.
- A threat of physical harm or offensive contact is made when the victim is elderly or disabled.
This charge is punishable by up to 1 year in jail and/or a fine of up to $4,000.
A simple assault will be charged as 3rd degree felony if…
- The offender knows that the victim is a public servant, security officer, emergency services personnel, volunteer, or a government contractor performing services at a correctional facility, secure treatment, or rehabilitation facility.
- And the victim is performing his or her duties at the time of the assault, or the offender assaults the victim in retaliation for the performance of his or her duties.
This charge is punishable by between 2 to 10 years in prison and a fine of up to $10,000.
While simple assaults are typically the least severe types of assault charges, the presence of certain factors in your case have the potential to elevate otherwise small charges to more punitive penalties. If you are being charged with a simple assault, you should contact a criminal defense attorney as soon as possible to have your specific case analyzed.
Aggravated Assault Crimes
In Texas, aggravated assault crimes consist of:
- Intentionally, knowingly, or recklessly causing serious bodily injury to another person, or
- Using or exhibiting a deadly weapon in the course of committing any assault crime, including threatening another with bodily injury or engaging in conduct that the victim likely will find offensive.
In Texas, aggravated assault crimes are generally second-degree felonies, punishable by between 2-20 years in prison and a fine of up to $10,000.
Under certain conditions, however, aggravated assault crimes have the potential to be prosecuted as first-degree felonies, punishable by between 5 to 99 years in prison, or life in prison, and fines of up to $10,000.
Some of the circumstances that will result in a first-degree aggravated assault are:
- If the aggravated assault is committed by a public servant
- If the offender knows that the victim is a public servant engaged in his duties or if the aggravated assault was committed in retaliation for the performance of his duties
- The aggravated assault was committed in retaliation against a witness/informant
- The offender recklessly shoots a firearm from a motor vehicle at a house/building/motor vehicle and causes serious bodily injury
If convicted, aggravated assault charges can be life-altering. These charges are pursued aggressively by the state, and the penalties are severe. If you are being charged with an aggravated assault, it is absolutely crucial that you do not wait to contact an experienced criminal defense attorney that can help you navigate the judicial system, mount a defense, and fight for your freedom.
Domestic Violence Crimes
While both simple and aggravated assaults provide a general overview of assault crimes, Texas law details separate criminal offenses for crimes committed against an offender’s family member, household member, or someone the offender has or is currently dating. Crimes committed against this special class of victims constitute domestic violence crimes. These offenses are given higher than ordinary scrutiny and consideration, and as such, the penalties can be much more severe than other types of assault.
What are the common types of domestic violence crimes?
Many domestic violence crimes contain the same fundamental elements as simple and aggravated assaults, with the added factor that the victim is of the special class.
A domestic assault is essentially a simple assault committed against a family member, household member, or a current or former partner.
A domestic assault will be charged as a Class A misdemeanor if…
- The offender has no prior domestic assault convictions.
This charge is punishable by up to 1 year in jail and/or fines of up to $4,000.
A domestic assault will be charged as a 3rd degree felony if…
- The offender has any prior domestic assault convictions.
This charge is punishable by between 2 to 10 years in prison and fines of up to $10,000.
Aggravated Domestic Assault
An aggravated domestic assault is an aggravated assault committed against a family member, household member, or current or former partner.
An aggravated domestic assault will typically be charged as a 2nd degree felony.
This charge is punishable by between 2 to 10 years in prison and fines of up to $10,000.
An aggravated domestic assault will be charged as a 1st degree felony if…
- The offense was committed with a deadly weapon and serious bodily injury was sustained by the victim.
This charge is punishable by between 5 to 99 years in prison, or life in prison, and fines of up to $10,000.
Continuous Violence Against the Family
If an offender commits at least 2 domestic assaults in a span of 12 month, they can be convicted of continuous violence against the family.
A continuous violence against the family offense will be charged as a 3rd degree felony.
- An individual can be convicted even if the prior domestic assaults did not result in arrests or convictions.
- An individual can be convicted even if the 2 assaults do are not the same victim
This charge is punishable by between 2 to 10 years in prison and up to $10,000 in fines.
How can a criminal defense attorney help me?
If you have been charged with any assault or domestic violence charge, your freedom, money, and reputation is on the line. This is not a matter you can afford to take lightly. Contact an experienced Texas criminal defense attorney as soon as possible.
While these charges do come with serious penalties, a criminal defense attorney can help you fight back and achieve a favorable outcome.
There are many possible defenses to assault/domestic violence allegations. Texas courts have recognized self-defense, defense of others, and defense of property as valid defenses in countless cases. A criminal defense attorney will be able to analyze your unique case and generate strategies to mount a defense against the state.
Additionally, police and prosecutors do not always play fair when pursuing assault and domestic violence cases. A talented criminal defense attorney will be able to spot illegal and unconstitutional police and prosecutorial practices early on. Having a lawyer willing and able to challenge the state’s evidence, witnesses, and theories can be a crucial step in securing your freedom.
Furthermore, a criminal defense attorney will be able to advocate on your behalf for more favorable outcomes, even if you are convicted. While the specifics of your case will play a role in determining what alternatives to sentencing are available to you, having a lawyer on your side to advocate for deferred adjudication or community supervision in lieu of a lengthy prison sentence can be invaluable.
Assault and domestic violence charges are extremely serious, so you need an attorney willing to fight for you.
Do not wait to reach out.
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