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Facing Assault Charges in Dallas, Texas?
Cases involving assault charges are common in courtrooms in Dallas and throughout the State of Texas. It does not require a lot of evidence for an individual to be arrested on an assault charge. These allegations could arise from numerous acts that are deemed threatening, violent, and/or offensive.
Texas prosecutors will work relentlessly to enhance assault charges to aggravated and/or felony offenses. When successful, a conviction for felony assault carries harsh and lingering penalties, including years behind bars, hefty fines, and a permanent criminal record.
Assault is a wide area of law that can include a wide range of circumstances varying in severity. It is important to understand what constitutes assault in Texas and how the legal system addresses these charges. Understanding the different types and penalties can help ensure that you are prepared to fight your case.
Types of Assault
Assault is a broad category in law that could be applicable for a wide range of violent and non-violent acts. Many people who are facing assault charges were involved in minor non-violent altercations. Texas law vaguely defines assault and does not require physical contact, meaning that these charges could occur as a result of verbal or non-verbal words and behaviors that another individual perceives as a violent threat.
For example, mimicking the act of physical assault, such as pretending to hit, smack, kick, etc., could also be perceived as threatening behavior and grounds for an assault charge.
Generally, assault is defined as causing intentional harm or offensive contact to another person.
By legal definition, an individual could be charged with assault if they are accused of committing one of the following acts:
- Intentionally or Recklessly Causing Physical Harm to Another Individual
- Threatening to Harm Another Individual
- Performing Any Act of Physical Contact That Is Knowingly Offensive
For example, throwing a punch and missing the alleged victim is still considered assault under Texas law.
Other Examples of Assault Include:
- Attempting to Spit on An Individual
Intentionally committing a non-related act that results in another person being harmed is also considered assault. For example, an individual could be charged with assault for intentionally throwing an item and accidently striking another person causing harm. Although, they did not intentionally hit the other person, they did intentionally throw the item that caused the harm.
The prosecution will use these vague definitions of assault to their advantage and push for enhanced charges that carry maximum penalties.
Types of Assault
There are a wide range of allegations that could result in an assault charge in Texas. Each category also poses various levels of severity and penalties. It is important to understand the severity of the type of assault charge you are facing in your unique case.
Common Types of Assault Include:
- Simple Assault
- Verbal Assault
- Aggravated Assault
- Domestic Violence
- Assault with a Deadly Weapon
- Sexual Assault
There does not need to be physical injuries and/or proof that the alleged act occurred for an individual to be convicted on an assault charge. The likelihood of a conviction significantly increases if the defendant neglects to hire a reputable criminal defense lawyer.
The severity of an assault charge is determined by several factors that are unique to each case. Criminal assault charges can be enhanced due to title of the victim, severity of injuries, and other circumstances.
The prosecution could utilize numerous circumstantial factors that allow for a simple assault charge to quickly escalate to felony allegations. Any violent criminal conviction, including felony assault could result in excessive harm to your family, reputation, and future.
For example, the criminal charges and penalties would be significantly higher in a case in which if a weapon was used during the alleged assault.
Enhanced Charges May Result When the Victim Is:
- A Child
- The Elderly
- A Disabled Person
- A Pregnant Woman
- A Spouse
- Social Services
- Law Enforcement
Abandoning and/or endangering a child is also a form of assault. An individual could face child abandonment charges for something as simple as leaving a child alone in a vehicle.
Assault charges can be tried as a federal offense, depending on the circumstances, severity, and number of charges that the defendant faces. It is also common for defendants to face several types, degrees, and counts of assault within a single case.
People often ask about the difference between assault and battery. The crimes of assault and battery consist of essentially the same elements and are not handled separately under Texas law. In Texas, all cases that could be labeled as “battery” in another state are charged as assault cases in Texas. Assault and battery are closely linked but, in Texas, assault is the only consideration.
Enhanced Felony Charges
Misdemeanor assault charges fall within 3 categories A, B, or C, each based on the severity of the crime and with varying penalties. A minor physical assault, such as a touch or shove without injury, or verbal threats of injury could be charged as a Class C misdemeanor. It can be frustrating for a defendant to face charges over minor altercations but there are tactics to beat these charges. Oftentimes, misdemeanor assault charges lack evidence, and your defense attorney can utilize tactics to have these charges dropped before trial.
The prosecution will use tactics in an attempt to raise assault charges to a heightened severity. Assault charges can also be increased to felony charges if the circumstances of the case meet certain criteria.
Assault May Be Charged as A Felony Based On:
- The Defendant’s Criminal History
- Relationship with the Alleged Victim
- Other Facts in The Case
Domestic Violence is a serious assault crime in Texas. Accusations for domestic violence can apply to more circumstances than most individuals are aware. The defendant and the alleged victim are not required to reside in the same home if their relationship falls within the definition of ‘family’. Click here to read more about the relationships, criteria, and other circumstances of domestic violence.
An individual can face 1st, 2nd, or 3rd degree felony assault charges if they have a history of domestic violence charges in the past depending on the severity of injuries. It is important to note that previous convictions are not required to pertain to the same family member.
Strangulation/Impeding Breath or Circulation
Charges are automatically enhanced to felony charges if serious injuries and/or strangulation occur during any assault. Strangulation is defined as intentional covering of the mouth, throat, and/or nose in an attempt to prevent another individual from breathing.
Sexual assault is a felony offense and is defined by separate criteria than a basic assault charges. Sexual assault charges are the most severe form of assault allegations with the most extreme penalties. Examples include rape, sexual abuse, and indecent exposure. These cases require immediate legal assistance. Click here to learn more about the definition, severity, and penalties for sexual assault.
Aggravated assault is the most serious form of an elevated assault charge. Any crime that falls within the category of aggravated assault is charged at a minimum of a 2nd degree felony. Aggravated assault can easily be enhanced to a 1stdegree felony offense depending on the severity of injuries the defendant’s relationship with the victim.
Texas Defines Aggravated Assault As:
- Assault that causes serious bodily injury to another, including the person’s spouse.
- Use or exhibit of a deadly weapon during the commission of an assault.
Simply using a weapon to invoke fear during an assault raises the act to an aggravated charge. This is true regardless of if the weapon was used to harm the alleged victim.
The definition of serious bodily injury is vague and at the discretion of the judge and jury. Generally, serious bodily injury involves any injury that requires immediate medical attention, hospital stay, and may require extensive recovery time. It is handled on a case by case basis.
Examples of Serious Bodily Injury Include:
- Permanent Injury
- Damage to Internal Organs
- Mental Impairments
- Substantial Risk of Death
An assault on a police office or public servant is an automatic aggravated offense and charged as a felony. This requires the defendant to knowingly commit an assault against an officer or other government worker, including EMS, social services, correctional facility staff, etc.
Penalties for Assault Charges
The penalties for an assault conviction will depend on several circumstances that are unique to your case, including the title of alleged victim, severity of injuries, and additional current and past criminal charges.
Any assault that involves drugs, weapons, or is committed against a vulnerable individual is likely to face a higher severity of penalties.
3rd Degree Felony
Threats or physical assault on government workers, including EMS and security guards, is generally charged as a 3rddegree felony.
An individual could face sentencing of up to 10 years in prison if convicted on 3rd degree felony charges.
2nd Degree Felony
2nd degree felony assault could apply in numerous cases, including acts that resulted in serious injury, assaults against vulnerable persons, or an assault on a police officer.
Convictions of 2nd degree felony assault could face up to 20 years in prison and a $10,000 fine.
1st Degree Felony
A conviction of 1st degree felony is the most serious assault charge that an individual could face in Texas. This may be applicable in cases of repeat domestic violence, strangulation, sexual assaults, and other aggravated cases.
Any assault that results in severe physical and/or emotional trauma to the alleged victim is likely to be charged as a 1stdegree aggravated assault.
A 1st degree felony conviction carries penalties ranging from 5 years to life in prison and a $10,000 fine.
Assault is considered a violent crime and there are additional penalties that extend beyond mandatory prison sentences and fines.
A conviction for assault could have devastating effects on your family unit, including marital and child custody issues.
These charges would also have a significant impact on your professional and personal reputation. The impact of these charges could potentially destroy your current and future housing, employment, and educational opportunities.
Penalties for Sexual Assault
Sexual assault is assessed under different legal terms than standard assault charges because of the nature of these crimes. Sexual assault charges carry harsh and lingering penalties, including mandatory sex offender registration. Penalties for a sexual offense could potentially destroy your family, employment, and future opportunities.
Gallian Defense Firm specializes in defending these unique and high-risk cases. Click here to continue reading about the different types of sexual assault charges and penalties.
Criminal Defense Assault Lawyer
Texas has a reputation for its harsh and unforgiving legal system. While many states have steadily reduced the number of incarcerated populations, Texas remains the epicenter of mass incarceration. This is evident by the disproportionately high number of Texans in state jails and prisons. Nearly 700,000 people in Texas are in the criminal justice system by incarceration, parole, probation, and other legal repercussions.
One out of every ten people incarcerated in Texas state prisons are serving anywhere from 60 years to life.
These harrowing statistics demonstrate the importance of having an experienced criminal defense assault lawyer fighting for you in the courtroom.. This is especially true for individuals who are facing several charges and/or have a previous criminal history.
A criminal defense attorney is legally responsible for fighting for your innocence and defending you in the courtroom, regardless of whether or not you committed the crime. Your lawyer’s job is to ensure that you are treated fairly and that your legal rights are protected.
Defenses for Assault
Texas’s harsh legal system is notorious for charging crimes more severely than is justifiable. Defendants who lack adequate legal representation are often convicted on unfairly severe charges and over sentenced. This is why it is critical to employ the services of an experienced criminal defense attorney to fight for you.
A criminal defense lawyer has access to tools and resources to build effective defense cases. Your lawyer can access all relevant information, including witness testimonies and other evidence. Your lawyer will then choose the best defense route for your case based on these unique circumstances.
There are several defense tactics that can be utilized to potentially clear and/or lessen assault charge allegations.
Defense Strategies May Include:
- Self-Defense or Property Defense
- Protect Another Individual
- Constitutional Violations
- Involuntary Intoxication
Which tactic would be most successful for your unique case will depend on several factors. Assault could also be justified if acts were committed out of necessity or forced.
Self-defense is a commonly utilized and often effective argument for beating assault charges. There are several elements that must be met for self-defense to be a viable defense tactic. One crucial element of an effective self-defense argument will be to prove that the defendant used the least amount of force necessary to fight off an attack.
Texas is a stand your ground state. This means that you are not legally required to retreat during a confrontation. However, this does require Texans to respond to violence with an amount of force that is appropriate during the confrontation.
For example, pulling out a gun during a verbal or minor physical altercation would not be considered reasonable.
Executing this defense strategy effectively would require your criminal defense lawyer to prove that your actions were necessary to protect yourself from and/or during an assault.
An individual who responds to verbal threats with physical violence would need to prove that they truly believed the assailant would follow through with these threats and they were in danger of imminent harm.
Protect Another Individual
Texans have the legal right to intervene if they witness a crime, including an assault on another individual. The same rule of using reasonable force applies when an assault is committed to protect another person during an assault or if there are threats of imminent harm.
Defend Your Property
An assault can also be considered legitimate when it is enacted to protect an individual’s property, including home and vehicle.
It is important to note that all forms of committing assault in defense, including cases of self, others, and property still require the defendant to have used an amount of force that is reasonable and applicable to the threat that is occurring.
Innocence, simply referred to as the absence of guilt, is the most commonly utilized defense tactic. Effective use of this tactic will depend on several factors in the case, including existing evidence and testimonies.
Claiming that the alleged crime never occurred is a viable defense in cases with no physical proof of an assault. The prosecution will need to prove that you did commit the crime.
Lack of Mental State
Criminal convictions require that an individual acted knowingly and intentionally. A lack of an appropriate mental state may be considered justification against allegations of reckless and unintentional assault.
Can An Assault Charge Be Dropped?
Oftentimes, especially in cases of domestic family violence, the alleged victim will try to ask the courts to drop the assault charges. In some states, the victim can request that charges be dropped against the defendant.
Unfortunately, that is not how the Texas legal system works. Once an assault charge has been filed the victim cannot retract their case. The case now lies in the hands of the prosecution, and they are the only ones who have the power to drop the assault charges.
The prosecution may be forced to drop an assault charge if the alleged victim changes their mind and refuses to work them. A criminal defense attorney can present arguments before the trial date which may persuade them to do so.
Beat Texas Assault Charges
Do not fight the prosecution alone. Hiring a criminal defense lawyer to stand by your side is the only way to beat these tactics and protect your freedom. Having a reputable and bold lawyer on your side is the first step to combating the tactics used by the prosecution.
Texas is known for its strict legal system, especially regarding violent crimes, including any form of assault. A defendant without legal representation is at the hands of the prosecution and they will press for maximum penalties. Hiring a criminal defense attorney is the best way to demonstrate that you are serious about beating these charges.
Gallian Defense Firm
Do not let the prosecution convict you of a violent crime. The right criminal defense attorney can stop the prosecution from enhancing assault charges to the felony level. Reach out immediately if you are facing allegations of assault in Dallas, Texas or surrounding areas.
Gregg Gallian will assess the unique circumstances and factors in your case to determine the best route of defense. This will depend on statements, evidence, and other elements that are available for legal professionals to access before the trial date.
Gallian Defense Firm continues to help hundreds of clients in Dallas and throughout the State of Texas beat serious criminal charges. Gregg Gallian is a former prosecuting attorney and experienced in handling all types and severities of assault cases. He and his team will work diligently to clear your name and reputation.
Don’t face the harsh legal system alone. Hiring the right criminal defense attorney can be the difference between a mandatory prison sentence and dropped charges. Let Gregg Gallian fight for you.
Contact Gallian Defense Firm today for more information and to schedule a free consultation.