One of the most frustrating aspects of assault charges in Dallas is that even if the alleged victim doesn’t want to press charges, the police and prosecutors commonly push forward. It takes an unwavering Dallas assault lawyer to push back hard enough to get to the right result – which for us means avoiding time in custody and avoiding a conviction.
Most assault cases have two things in common: anger and regret. Once things calm down and cooler heads prevail, most people wish they could turn back time, do things differently. Unfortunately, neither life nor the law works like that.
Assault charges can be very serious and follow you for the rest of your life. That’s why it’s imperative to contact an experienced Dallas assault lawyer as soon as possible to find out what to expect and how to move forward after your arrest. Depending on the degree and severity of the charge, your future and, possibly, your freedom could be at stake.
In this article, the lawyers at Varghese Summersett explain the types of misdemeanor and felony assault charges in Texas, as well as potential consequences and as possible defenses. We’ve had decades of experience handling North Texas assault cases and we will work diligently to find the best possible strategy and outcome for you. Please also take a moment to view the videos on this page by Dallas Assault Lawyer Benson Varghese, who is Board Certified in Criminal Law and offers tips on how to beat assault charges.
Assault encompasses a wide array of conduct. Assault can be as simple as threatening to beat someone up or as serious as sending someone to the hospital with grave injuries. “Assaultive Offenses” are defined in Texas Penal Code Chapter 22 and cover everything from a Class C ticket all the way up to a first-degree felony punishable by up to life in prison. The degree and severity of the charge depend on the defendant’s mental state, the extent of the injury or threat of injury, and the characteristics of the alleged victim, such as their age and health.
There are four basic categories of misdemeanor assault in Texas, which is also commonly referred to as simple assault.
The Crime: Assault by threat occurs when someone intentionally or knowingly threatens a person with imminent bodily injury – this can be verbal or non-verbal.
Example: Threatening to beat up a neighbor during a disagreement over a fence
The Consequences: Assault by threat is a Class C Misdemeanor in Texas and is punishable by up to a $500 fine. While jail time isn’t a punishment, you could still be left with an assault conviction on your record. A Dallas assault lawyer can help you resolve the case in a manner that will keep it off of your permanent record.
The Crime: Assault by contact occurs when someone intentionally or knowingly causes physical contact with another that is offensive or provocative.
Example: Spitting in someone’s face during an altercation at a sporting event
The Consequences: Assault by contact is a Class C Misdemeanor, punishable by a maximum $500 fine. While jail time is not possible, it could leave a conviction on your record if it is not settled in a way that will keep your record clean.
The Crime: Assault bodily injury occurs when someone intentionally, knowingly or recklessly causes bodily injury to another person.
Example: Pushing down a person during an altercation causing them to skin their elbows and knees
The Consequences: Assault bodily injury is a Class A Misdemeanor, punishable by up to a year in jail and a maximum $4,000 fine.
The Crime: Assault bodily injury against a family member occurs when someone intentionally, knowingly, or recklessly causes bodily injury to a family member.
Example: Forcefully grabbing a spouse’s arm during an altercation, causing pain
The Consequences: Assault bodily injury against a family member is punishable by up to a year in jail and a maximum $4000 fine.
A misdemeanor assault charge can be elevated to a felony if the assault caused injury to a specific category of victims, such as police officers or judges. You can also be charged with felony assault if serious bodily injury was intentionally caused; if a deadly weapon was used or threatened; or if the assault involved repeated acts of family violence. Here are common categories of felony assault in Texas
The Crime: Enhanced assaults occur when a person intentionally, knowingly or recklessly causes bodily injury to a specific category of people, including public servants, government contractors, security officers, emergency personnel, pregnant women, or a peace officer or a judge.
Example: Kicking a police officer during a street protest
The Consequences: An enhanced assault charge is a third-degree felony punishable by 2 to 10 years in prison and a maximum $10,000 fine.
The Crime: Aggravated assault occurs when a person:
* intentionally, knowingly or recklessly cause serious bodily injury to another person; or
* uses or exhibits a deadly weapon in the course of committing any assault crime, including threatening another with bodily injury or engaging in conduct that the victim will likely find offensive.
Example: Pointing a gun at another driver and threatening to shoot during an a road rage incident
The Consequences: Aggravated assault is a second degree felony punishable by 2 to 20 years in prison and a maximum $10,000 fine. However, if the aggravated assault is committed against a security officer, a public servant, a witness in a court case, an intimate partner, or if it involved discharging a firearm out of a vehicle and towards an occupied building or other vehicle the charge can be enhanced to a first-degree felony, punishable by up to life in prison.
The Crime: Aggravated assault against a family member occurs when an individual commits aggravated assault against a person he or she is dating, previously dated, someone in their family or a spouse.
Example: Hospitalizing an ex-girlfriend after striking her with or against an object
The Consequences: Aggravated assault against a family member is generally a second degree felony punishable by up to 20 years in prison and a maximum $10,000 fine. The charge can be elevated to a first-degree felony, punishable by 5 years to up to life in prison and a maximum $10,000 fine, if a deadly weapon or injuries were involved.
The Crime: Continuous family violence against a family member occurs when an individual commits assault against a family member at least twice within a 12-month period. A person can be convicted even if the prior assaults did not result in a conviction or arrest. The assaults also do not have to have been committed against the same victim.
Example: Hitting a girlfriend in the face twice within a year
The Consequences: Continuous family violence is a third degree felony punishable by 2 to 10 years in prison and a maximum $10,000 fine.
The Crime: Assault by strangulation against a family member, also called assault impeding breath, occurs when a person intentionally, knowingly or recklessly impedes the normal breathing or circulation of the blood of another person by applying pressure to the person’s throat or neck or by blocking the person’s nose or mouth.
Example: Squeezing the throat of a spouse during an altercation or covering their face with a pillow during an altercation
The Consequences: Generally, a first-time offense for assault by strangulation is a third-degree felony punishable by 2 to 10 years in prison and a maximum $10,000 fine. However, if you already have a family violence conviction on record, it is automatically elevated to a second-degree felony, punishable by 2 to 20 years in prison and a maximum $10,000 fine.
The Crime: Under Texas Penal Code 22.04(a), a person commits this offense if he intentionally, knowingly, recklessly, or with criminal negligence, by act or omission, causes a child, elderly individual, or disabled individual serious bodily injury; serious mental deficiency, impairment, or injury; or bodily injury.
Example: A passenger punching an elderly bus driver during a dispute on the bus
The Consequences: The punishment range for injury to a child, elderly, or disabled individual varies from a state jail felony to a first-degree felony based on the intent of the alleged offender and the extent of injuries sustained by the alleged victim. Speak with a skilled Dallas assault lawyer at our firm to learn more.
Just because you have been charged with assault doesn’t mean you are guilty. There are a number of defenses that could come into play that could justify your actions or mitigate your circumstances. However, if you take anything away from this article, do NOT speak with the police without an attorney present. This will not help your cause. Instead, contact a skilled Dallas assault lawyer and let them get your side of the story out at the appropriate time. An experienced attorney can identify and raise affirmative defenses and leverage it to achieve the best outcome possible. Possible defenses could include but are not limited to:
Assault charges stem from altercations that many people later regret, especially when they end up in handcuffs. Unfortunately, a fit of rage and momentary lapse in judgment can have long-lasting consequences. In addition to possible jail time and a criminal record, an assault conviction can impede your ability to get a good job, obtain a loan or possess a firearm. You will need an experienced Dallas assault lawyer to challenge the evidence, negotiate the best resolution and, if all else fails, take your case to trial. When your family, finances, and freedom are at stake, don’t leave anything to chance.
Call 214-903-4000 today to speak with a skilled Dallas assault lawyer at our office today.