If you or a loved one are arrested for an aggravated assault charge within the Texas area, it is vital you enlist the help of an experienced Harris County aggravated assault defense lawyer to build a strong defense case.
Aggravated assault is one of the most serious criminal charges a person can face within the Texas justice system. A skilled criminal defense lawyer won’t hesitate to inform you that this charge results in a second-degree felony, culminating in considerable jail time should you be found guilty of the crime.
The Love DuCote Law Firm can support you every step of the way should you be arrested for an aggravated assault. We have a proven track record of creating strong, case-ready defense strategies for anyone accused of aggravated assault.
If you’ve been accused of aggravated assault, your freedom depends on your immediate steps.
Simple assault or aggravated assault?
Even though much of the public within Harris County will know the meaning of an assault, the classification as a simple assault or aggravated assault is often determined due to the circumstances surrounding the event.
If the victim falls into one of the following categories, the case is likely to be upgraded to a second-degree felony by the justice system within Texas.
A simple assault can be upgraded if the victim is
- A public servant.
- A member of the accused’s family.
- A pregnant woman, related to the accused or not.
- A security guard.
- A member of the emergency services.
What Is An Aggravated Assault in Harris County, Texas?
Within the Texas Penal code, an accusation of assault can result in an assault charge or be extended to a higher charge of aggravated assault, carrying far higher penalties.
There are two consistent factors in most cases of aggravated assault –
Firstly, evidence of purposefully or recklessly causing serious bodily harm or death to another person.
Secondly is the possession or use of a deadly weapon during the assault. The term ‘use’ of a deadly weapon is incredibly broad and can include simply showing the deadly weapon during the time of the assault.
To further understand the definitions included within an aggravated assault charge, we’ve described each key element below.
Serious Bodily Injury
If the outcome of an assault results in serious bodily injury, this immediately elevates it from a simple assault to an aggravated assault.
In Texas, this is defined as any bodily injury that can result in a substantial risk of death, disfigurement, or long-term bodily damage to limbs or organ function.
A prosecution attorney must be able to prove the accused’s mental state beyond a reasonable doubt. Ultimately, this decision will be made by the evidence provided to the jury, which is why it’s imperative to hire a fact-driven Harris County aggravated assault defense lawyer to paint a clear picture for the jury.
- Intent – When a person acts with intent in relation to the actions of their conduct, the result of their conduct, or the desire to engage in the conduct that resulted in an aggravated assault.
- Knowingly – When a person acts with the knowledge of the outcomes, the conduct can produce or they are aware that their conduct is reasonably certain to result in aggravated assault.
- Recklessly – A person acting recklessly, whereby they are aware of the results of their conduct but continue to act in this way. To prove a person acted recklessly, it must be evident that the choice of continuation of their actions was a deviation from the choice a safer individual would have made and therefore results in labeling their conduct as reckless.
The inclusion of a deadly weapon in an aggravated assault heightens the severity and seriousness of the case.
The elements that make up what defines a deadly weapon must be factually driven and determined by the jury within the case.
The importance of defining a deadly weapon within an aggravated assault case is usually most important during sentencing, as this can greatly increase an accused’s sentence, resulting in them having to serve at least half of the prison sentence before any eligibility for parole can be considered.
The Texas Penal code defines a deadly weapon as –
- a firearm or any other weapon manifestly designed, adapted, or made for the purpose of causing death or inflicting serious bodily injury
- Any item whereby its manner of use can result in death or serious bodily injury
Aggravated Assault Including A Deadly Weapon
Assault with a deadly weapon within Texas is tried as a felony aggravated assault, and anything can be defined as a deadly weapon if the prosecuting attorney can prove intent and recklessness.
The most common deadly weapons are guns (loaded or unloaded), knives, and swords. However, bats, hammers, and glass bottles can also be defined as deadly weapons if they can be proven to cause serious bodily injury.
There is not a concise list of deadly weapons, as, in the right circumstances, a pen could be classed as a deadly weapon if the intent and manner of use can be proven.
Penalties For Aggravated Assault
Due to the seriousness of bodily injury included in aggravated assaults, the punishments are also severe and most often include jail time.
The penalties you can face for a conviction vary depending upon the victim and your previous criminal background.
Second Degree Felony Assault
An aggravated assault will always be at least a second-degree felony. This can result in between two and twenty years in prison and/or a $10’000 fine.
First Degree Felony Assault
An aggravated assault can be increased to a first-degree felony for any of the following reasons.
- The victim is a member of the accused’s family or a dating partner.
- An accusation of assaulting an on-duty emergency services worker or uniformed security guard.
- A previous conviction for aggravated assault.
- An accusation of assault to a witness or informant for another crime that you can be proven of intending to harm, even if this is on behalf of another person.
- The victim is a public servant.
The penalties for a first-degree felony are five to ninety-nine years in prison and a fine of up to $10’000.
Restitution To Victims
A person convicted of assault or deadly misconduct in the state of Texas can be required to pay a restitution fine to the victim. This fine involves reimbursing the victim for any expenses as a result of the crime, such as covering the cost of medical treatment, therapy, or repairs to any damaged property.
In some cases, the alternative to jail time can be community supervision or probation, which can be authorized by the judge working on the case. This is only eligible for offenders with misdemeanors or felonies under 10 years of incarceration. Probation is not an option if there was use of a deadly weapon during the offense.
In cases of assault, it is a certainty that this charge will remain on criminal records for life. An experienced Harris County aggravated assault defense lawyer can support a case by ensuring the penalties are appropriate in regards to all the circumstances within the case.
It is imperative that a defense lawyer is appointed at the earliest opportunity to guarantee support throughout the case. An experienced aggravated assault defense lawyer can work with the accused during every step to potentially have the charges dropped or dismissed. By using their extensive knowledge to possibly negotiate a settlement deal, an experienced defense lawyer could prevent the case from being put before a jury.
Regardless, the penalties for an assault can be severe with serious consequences and require proper legal counsel. The penalties can vary if sexual assault, deadly weapons, and serious bodily injury are included. Any previous charges for assault of any kind can also increase the penalty.
Building A Defense Strategy For Aggravated Assault Charges
A person accused of aggravated assault is still innocent until proven guilty in the eyes of the law. If you have been accused of aggravated assault or assault with a deadly weapon, the prosecutor must prove beyond reasonable doubt that the crime was committed as described in Texas legal statutes.
There are various strategies that an experienced Harris County aggravated assault defense lawyer can explore to help their client defend themselves against unfair allegations of aggravated assault.
If a person accused of the assault was assaulted first, they might be able to claim self-defense. This would require extensive work with eyewitnesses, evidence, and potential reconstructions of the events to prove self-defense.
This defense can also include the protection of premises. If the assault victim was attempting to enter, steal or damage your property in a manner that required reasonable force to stop the initial crime, this could be used to explain the use of aggravated assault. However, this can only be used should you have feared for your life.
This context is dependent upon circumstances; for example, the use of a deadly weapon in this situation is harder to prove as self-defense. It is all dependent upon the events leading up to the assault. If a gun was used as a result of someone trespassing in your yard, it could be much harder to warrant this use as reasonable force.
Contact An Experienced Harris County Aggravated Assault Defense Lawyer Today
If you or someone you love has been arrested for an aggravated assault in Harris County, Texas, your freedom depends on the immediate steps you take.