Fights and arguments are a reality in life. Sometimes the argument gets out of hand and punches are thrown. Assault arrests aren’t always the cases you see on the news such as bar fights or road rage incidents. There are many different situations where an individual can face an assault charge even if they didn’t get into a fistfight.
According to the Bureau Of Justice Statistics website (https://www.bjs.gov/content/pub/pdf/cv15_sum.pdf), about 5 million Americans over the age of twelve and older are victims of some type of assault every year. However, according to BJS, those numbers have been on a steady decrease in the last twenty years. Nonetheless, getting charged with assault in the state of Texas can be a serious crime.
Overview Of Assault Laws In Texas
It is explained what assault is according to the law in the Texas Penal Code Title 5 Chapter 22 (http://www.statutes.legis.state.tx.us/Docs/PE/htm/PE.22.htm). The law states that a person can be charged with assault under three conditions.
- It is considered assault if a person “intentionally, knowingly, or recklessly causes bodily injury to another, including the person’s spouse.” This means that if a person physically hurts someone either on purpose or due to reckless actions they can be arrested for assault.
- It is also considered assault by Texas law if a person “intentionally or knowingly threatens another with imminent bodily injury, including the person’s spouse.” This section of the law describes that it is possible to be charged with assault if a person verbally or even non verbally threatens to hurt someone.
- A person can face assault charges if they “intentionally or knowingly cause physical contact with another when the person knows or should reasonably believe that the other will regard the contact as offensive or provocative.” This last section describes that an assault charge can be given to a person if they cause “provocative or offensive” physical contact even if bodily harm does not occur.
In the state of Texas basic assault is a misdemeanor but the crime can get worse and can be a felony if certain conditions are met. For example, an assault charge can be a felony if the victim of the assault is a family member or police officer. If an assault results in serious injury or if a weapon is used to commit the assault, it can be considered aggravated assault which carries worse penalties.
According to the Disaster Center website (http://www.disastercenter.com/crime/txcrime.htm), in the year 2016 the state of Texas reported 121,042 violent crimes and 72,880 cases of aggravated assault. This amounts to 4.3 violent crimes and 2.8 aggravated assault cases per 1,000 people. The state of Texas is the second largest state in population and is ranked 18th in total crimes, 17th in violent crimes, and 22nd in aggravated assault cases nationwide.
Criminal Penalties For Assault In Texas
The penalties a person charged with assault can face vary with the seriousness of the crime. The penalty for a Class C misdemeanor (given for threats and offensive physical contact) is up to a $500 fine. A Class B misdemeanor can be given if the assault is against a sports participant and the penalty for that is up to 180 days in jail and/or up to a $2,000 fine. An individual can be charged with a class A misdemeanor if they cause bodily harm or if they assault an elderly person and can face up to one year in jail and/or up to a $4,000 fine. In the worse felony assault cases such as aggravated assault, a person can be sentenced to 2 to 10 years in prison and face a fine of up to $10,000.
In many cases, other punishment may be given to convicted criminals. In some cases, the court may order the defendant to pay restitution to help pay for the victim’s medical bills or property damage occurred during the assault. The defendant may be given community supervision or probation in lieu of jail time. In some assault cases, the person charged with the crime may be required to go through an anger management program.
Potential Defenses And Your Rights
One of the most common defenses in an assault case is the self-defense clause. According to Texas state laws (http://codes.findlaw.com/tx/penal-code/penal-sect-9-31.html), “a person is justified in using force against another when and to the degree the actor reasonably believes the force is immediately necessary to protect the actor against the other’s use or attempted use of unlawful force.” If a person can prove self-defense in a case they may not get convicted of assault.
In other situations, the wrong person may be charged with the assault due to mistaken identity. In more petty cases, false reporting or lying can be the cause of the assault charges. In any case, it is best to hire a lawyer to represent you in order to find the best defenses in the particular case.
When someone faces criminal charges like assault, it is a good idea to hire a lawyer for legal representation. A lawyer will evaluate the details of the case and find the best defenses to use. A lawyer will keep you informed throughout the legal process and will work hard to find the best legal options for you. Lawyers can handle much of the legal paperwork and actions for you including going to some court dates for you.