It can be scary to be charged with aggravated assault in Texas. One of the first questions you might ask is how aggravated assault differs from a simple assault and what kind of enhanced penalties you might face if you’re convicted.
Aggravated assault means a more serious form of assault. If someone is charged with aggravated assault, they can face a severe penalty compared to simple assault. While anyone has the right to defend themselves in court without a lawyer, aggravated assault is not the time in which you want to find yourself without experienced criminal defense representation.
Assault Charges Under Texas Law
In Texas, a person can be charged with simple assault or aggravated assault. To be charged for carrying out a simple assault, as explained in Title 5, Chapter 22 of the Texas penal code, you must have done one or more of the following:
- “intentionally, knowingly, or recklessly causes bodily injury to another, including the person’s spouse;
- intentionally or knowingly threatens another with imminent bodily injury, including the person’s spouse; or
- intentionally or knowingly causes physical contact with another when the person knows or should reasonably believe that the other will regard the contact as offensive or provocative.”
For most people, a simple assault charge is a class C misdemeanor, which is punishable by a maximum fine of $500. However, a simple assault charge can be bumped up to a class B misdemeanor or even a class A misdemeanor depending on the circumstances of the case.
For example, a simple assault charge can be a class B misdemeanor if the assault is carried out against someone participating in or officiating a sporting event. In this case, the simple assault can result in up to 180 days in jail and a maximum fine of $2,000.
In cases involving a simple assault on an individual who is disabled or elderly, the penalty can involve up to one year in jail and a maximum fine of $4,000.
In other cases a simple assault may even rise to the level of a felony. Depending on the severity of the felony, an individual convicted of simple assault could spend years in prison and pay thousands of dollars in fines.
Aggravated Assault Charges Under Texas Law
An assault can be charged as an aggravated assault when either of the following occurred during the commission of the crime:
“A person commits an offense if the person commits assault as defined in Sec. 22.01 and the person:
- causes serious bodily injury to another, including the person’s spouse; or
- uses or exhibits a deadly weapon during the commission of the assault.”
If you assault someone, and you did it with the intention of causing serious bodily injury to the person, or you carried a deadly weapon as you committed the assault, you could be facing some very serious penalties.
If you’re convicted of aggravated assault in Texas, you will get a second-degree felony on your criminal record, which also carries a prison term ranging between two and 20 years. Additionally, you might be ordered to pay a fine of up to $10,000.
In the event the aggravated assault you carried out caused someone or their spouse to suffer serious bodily injury, you could face up to 99 years in prison plus a maximum fine of $10,000.
Possible Ways to Defend Against an Aggravated Assault Charge
If you have been charged with aggravated assault in Texas, it may be possible to defend yourself under a variety of theories, including:
- You didn’t use a weapon during the assault
- You didn’t put someone in fear of suffering a bodily injury
- You were protecting yourself from injury
- You were protecting someone else from being injured
Under Texas law, you have a right to defend yourself from the threat of physical harm. If you have been charged with aggravated assault but you were acting to protect yourself, it’s important to get in touch with an experienced Texas criminal defense lawyer as soon as possible.
In other words, the law doesn’t require anyone to stand around and just let another person threaten their safety. You have the right to act in self-defense. However, it can be a challenge to prove that you were defending yourself rather than carrying out an unprovoked aggravated assault. For example, some stand your ground cases can involve this type of question or gray area. This is where it’s critical to have the experience of a knowledgeable Texas criminal defense lawyer on your side.
Discuss Your Case with a Texas Criminal Defense Lawyer
Being charged with aggravated assault can be an overwhelming experience. It helps to have an experienced defense lawyer working for you. The penalty for an aggravated assault conviction can be serious, resulting in the long-term loss of your freedom. Don’t leave your case to chance.