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Assault Charges in Texas: Understanding the Different Degrees and Penalties

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Texas is one of many states that take assault charges very seriously. It is not uncommon for the prosecution to charge someone with assault and pursue felony charges for an offense that would normally only result in a misdemeanor – even when the victim has no desire to continue the case and wants to drop the charges. If you are being charged with assault in Texas, it is important to know the different degrees and penalties for this offense and understand why an attorney is essential to help you obtain a better outcome.

What Actions Constitute the Crime of Assault in Texas?

The overall definition of assault involves three specific actions: intentionally, knowingly, or recklessly hurting someone physically and causing them to be injured, making deliberate threats of physical harm to another person, and making physical contact with another person in an offensive or provocative manner. A person has committed an assault offense if they engaged in one or more of these actions.

The severity of the crime and penalties depend on who was the target of the assault, the context in which the assault occurred, and whether any deadly weapons were used or displayed in the process. It is worth mentioning that certain situations where no actual bodily harm occurred can still result in an assault charge if the victim felt threatened or believed the offender would cause them to be physically in danger.

When Is Assault a Misdemeanor in Texas?

An assault can be charged as a Class C, Class B, or Class A misdemeanor, depending on the circumstances. If an assault did not cause any bodily harm, it is usually charged as a Class C misdemeanor, which could result in a $500 fine and no jail time. Class B misdemeanors are a bit less common in Texas and can occur at a sporting event if a non-sports participant, such as a spectator, provokes or attacks an athlete, referee, or anyone who is actively performing in a sporting event. A Class B misdemeanor can result in a $ 2,000 fine and up to 6 months in prison.

Class A misdemeanors are the most serious and also the most common type of misdemeanor charges. Whenever an assault results in physical harm, it is typically charged as a Class A misdemeanor. A conviction could lead to a $4,000 fine and up to one year in prison.

When Is an Assault Considered a Felony?

Assault can also be charged as a felony if certain factors are applicable. For example, a Class A misdemeanor assault can be charged as a third-degree felony whenever the violent act causes bodily harm to specific victims, such as family members of the offender, public servants in the line of duty, government employees on duty, security officers, and first responders (such as EMS, firefighters or healthcare workers).

A Class C misdemeanor can become a second-degree felony if a deadly weapon is used, even if no actual bodily injuries occurred. For example, if an individual threatens another person while holding a gun, that individual may be facing second-degree felony charges, which can result in two to twenty years in prison and a fine of up to $10,000.

Finally, a person can be charged with a first-degree felony if, for example, they commit aggravated assault using a deadly weapon and cause bodily harm to a family member. They may also face first-degree felony charges if they commit aggravated assault against a public servant on duty, a witness, a reporter or informer of a crime, or a security officer while on duty. A first-degree felony is the most serious felony charge in Texas (only second to a capital offense) and could result in a $10,000 fine and a maximum prison sentence of life.

Why Do I Need a Criminal Defense Lawyer for My Case?

Assault charges are aggressively prosecuted in Texas, and it is not uncommon for misdemeanor assault offenses to be charged as felonies in order to convince a defendant to accept a plea deal. If you are being charged with assault in the Lone Star state, it is in your best interest to seek the help of an experienced criminal defense attorney.

Your attorney can help you by conducting an investigation of your case, reviewing the evidence presented against you by the state, and questioning the charges brought against you. Your attorney may try to have your charges reduced or dismissed by questioning the validity of the evidence and whether they prove beyond reasonable doubt that you actually committed the crime.

In some cases, your attorney may also argue that you were acting in self-defense or find some other strategy to weaken the prosecution’s case. That often means your charges could potentially be dropped. If clearing you of all charges is not possible, your attorney may be able to de-escalate them from a felony to a misdemeanor or help you decide whether to accept a plea deal or take your case to trial. Each case is different, and there is no way to predict any specific outcome, but skipping the step of hiring a skilled attorney to represent you may not be the most sensible idea.

Instead of facing it all yourself or being stuck with an unfair plea bargain agreement or excessive charges, reach out to Seymour & Vaughn. Our legal team serves clients facing assault charges in New Braunfels, Texas, and surrounding areas. Call our office at 830-282-8751 to discuss your case and see how we can help you protect your rights and fight back for a better outcome. We are here to help.

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