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If you are charged with assault, you will face serious penalties, including heavy fines and jail sentences. When so much is on the line, you need the support of a top-rated San Antonio assault lawyer. The Law Office of Jesse Hernandez is available 24/7 to answer your questions.
What Is Assault?
Texas Penal Code §5.22.01 defines assault as when a person intentionally or knowingly:
- Causes bodily harm to another person
- Threatens another person with bodily harm
- Makes physical contact with another person who will regard that contact as offensive or provocative
Penalties for Assault
Assault can take many different forms. Depending on the severity of injuries caused, the prior record of the person charged, and the person who was assaulted, the penalties and classification will change. A general breakdown of what you can expect for each type of charge follows:
- Misdemeanor charges: If minor injuries or the threat of injury occurred, your charges will typically be considered a misdemeanor. The penalties include fines up to $4,000 and 12 months in jail.
- Felony charges: If you have a prior violent crime on your record, assault an officer of the peace, or use a weapon, you may face felony charges. The penalties include a fine of $10,000 and 10 to 20 years in prison.
Whether you are charged with a misdemeanor or felony, these penalties can drastically affect your life. Don’t take these penalties lightly – make sure to secure the help of a top-rated San Antonio criminal defense attorney.
The Types of Assault
The State of Texas designates two forms of assault: simple and aggravated. These labels help differentiate major and minor examples of assault for more sentencing purposes.
Simple assault is defined as an intentional, knowing, or reckless action that causes bodily injury against another person. In the State of Texas, examples of simple assault include situations where there was no physical contact.
Examples of Simple Assault
- Swinging and missing. When you attempt to cause physical harm to another person (such as by throwing a punch), but fail to do so, it may be charged as a simple assault.
- Threatening to harm someone. This could include waving your fists at another person, verbal threats, or any other act that may convince someone you intend to harm them.
Proving Simple Assault
If you are facing simple assault charges, the burden will be on the prosecution to prove their case. The prosecution will need to provide evidence that you acted with intent, that the victim was reasonably apprehensive, and that harm was done. All three of these conditions must be met in order to meet the definition of a simple assault. Our Austin and San Antonio assault lawyers are prepared to respond to these allegations in court.
Legal Defenses for Simple Assault Charges
There are many reasons why a simple assault charge will ultimately be dismissed. A criminal attorney can argue that their client was acting in self-defense or in defense of property. The act could be classified as an accident, or something that was done with the consent of another person. If only one or two of the conditions above are met, the charge will be dismissed.
Aggravated assault is the term used to define intentional actions taken by the aggressor meant to cause a fear of imminent harm to another person. For an example of assault to qualify as ‘aggravated,’ there needs to be an aggravating factor such as serious bodily injury or the use of a deadly weapon.
Examples of Aggravating Factors
- Details about the victim. If the person who was victimized by the assault is a child, elderly person, public servant, or officer of the law, the crime will be treated with greater seriousness.
- The type of weapon. If the defendant used a deadly weapon (such as a knife, gun, or bludgeoning device), or wielded any other item in a threatening way, the crime may be recognized as an aggravated assault.
- Where the assault occurred. Assaults that occur on school property or at the victim’s home may be considered to be aggravated.
- Injury severity. If the victim was seriously injured as a result of the defendant’s actions, their injuries may elevate the crime to aggravated assault.
Legal Defenses for Aggravated Assault Charges
Our Austin and San Antonio assault lawyers have helped defend many clients facing charges of aggravated assault. One of the commonly accepted defenses for this crime is factual innocence, or the finding that the crime has been misconstrued or attributed to the wrong person. Evidence that the assault was in self-defense, in defense of others or of property, or involved a lack of intent can also result in dismissed charges. In some cases, provocation, consent, or the voluntary assumption of risk can also be argued.
Other Types of Assault
Domestic assault and sexual assault represent specific circumstances related to assault charges in Texas. Both acts can be charged as simple or aggressive assault.
Crimes committed against family members are handled in a particular manner in Texas State courts. If the person is a current or former partner (casual dating or a more serious relationship), the child of a current or former partner, or someone with whom the offender lives, the crime will be approached as a domestic matter.
The elements of domestic assault can include intentionally, knowingly, or recklessly causing or threatening bodily injury. Alternatively, domestic assault can also include non-violent physical contact which the defendant knew or should have reasonably known would be provocative or offensive to the victim.
Non-consensual, unwanted sexual contact against another person may be charged as a sexual assault in the State of Texas. Typically, the act must include penetration in order to be charged as sexual assault. Evidence of physical force, threats of violence, coercion, or manipulation can be presented to validate the victim’s claims about lacking consent.
Can Assault Charges Be Dropped?
Assault is a criminal charge. In the State of Texas, criminal charges are brought by the authorities, not victims. This means that the victim cannot make a decision to drop the charge after legal steps have been taken. Instead, state prosecutors carry the ability to dismiss a charge or proceed to court.
Get Tough, Aggressive, and Strategic Legal Defense
At the Law Office of Jesse Hernandez, our legal team is dedicated to providing our clients with superior legal support. Being convicted of simple or aggravated assault can result in steep fines, time served, and ramifications that ripple throughout your personal and professional life. It’s important to consult with our Austin or San Antonio assault lawyers if you have been accused of assault. Contact us for a free consultation today.
San Antonio Office: 3107 Broadway Street, San Antonio, Texas 78209. (210) 807-8656.
Austin Office: 2025 Guadalupe Street Suite 260, Austin, Texas 78705. (512) 982-4798.