As discussed below, Assault convictions can have some serious consequences. If you are accused of committing an Assault, you should contact an attorney as soon as possible in order to explore your options and to prepare your defense.
Law Regarding Assaultive Offenses
The law regarding assaultive offenses in Texas is set forth in Chapter 22 of the Texas Penal Code. Some common Assault Charges are Class C misdemeanor assault, Class A misdemeanor assault, Assault on a Peace Officer (third degree felony), Aggravated Assault with Serious Bodily Injury, and Aggravated Assault with a Deadly Weapon. Assaultive offenses against children, elderly individuals, and disabled individuals are set forth in Texas Penal Code Section 22.04 and are entitled Injury to a Child, Injury to an Elderly Individual or Injury to a Disabled Individual.
I. Assault Family Violence
The single most common Assault charge prosecuted in El Paso County Courts is a variation of Class A Assault, which is Assault Family Violence. Other types of assault are described below. Cases are charged as Assault Family Violence cases pursuant to Texas Family Code Section 71.003 where the alleged victim is related by blood or affinity to the defendant, where the alleged victim and the defendant are former spouses, where the alleged victim and the defendant are parents of the same child, where there is a foster child and parent relationship between the alleged victim and the defendant, where there is or has been a dating relationship between the alleged victim and the defendant, and where the alleged victim and the defendant have shared a household.
Assault Family Violence cases, although initially only Class A misdemeanors, can nonetheless have very serious consequences. Non-citizens convicted of Assault Family Violence can be denied Lawful Permanent Resident Status or can be deported. Family violence convictions can cause individuals to lose professional licenses and can prevent skilled tradesmen from being bonded. A person convicted of Assault Family Violence cannot possess a firearm for five years from the date that the person is released from jail or the date on which the person’s community supervision ends. Hence a family violence conviction can end a person’s career in the military or in law enforcement. Also, protective orders are frequently issued against individuals accused of family violence, and can prevent them from being able to return home or from having contact with members of their household. If a person is charged a second time with Assault Family Violence after having been convicted or having received deferred adjudication on an initial Class A Family Violence charge, the offense is charged as a third degree felony.
Fortunately, there are defenses to charges of Assault Family Violence. Often there is little or no physical evidence in Assault Family Violence cases. If the case is not dismissed before trial, the credibility of the accuser can often be effectively challenged at trial. Also Chapters 8 and 9 of the Texas Penal Code deal with justifications and defenses to criminal charges, and additionally, there are other defenses recognized in case law. The most common defense available in assault cases is the defense of “self-defense.”
II. Other Information Regarding Assaultive Offenses
i. Class C Misdemeanor Assault
To be guilty of Class C misdemeanor assault a person must "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 [Texas Penal Code Section 22.01(a)(3)].
ii. Class A misdemeanor assault
Class A Assault is an offense whereby it is alleged that the defendant intentionally, knowingly or recklessly caused "bodily injury" to the complainant. [Texas Penal Code Section 22.01(a)(1)]. However “bodily injury” is very broadly defined as any “physical pain, illness, or any impairment of physical condition [Texas Penal Code Section 1.07(8)]. Hence, the prosecutor only has to prove that the complainant experienced pain, even where there are no bones broken, or blood or scratches or bruises or red marks to get a conviction for Class A Assault. Assault on a Peace Officer is the same as Class A assault, except because the alleged victim is a peace officer it is charged as a third degree felony.
iii. Aggravated Assault
The offenses of Aggravated Assault With Serious Bodily Injury and Aggravated Assault With a Deadly Weapon are set forth in Texas Penal Code Section 22.02. “Serious bodily injury” is defined as bodily injury that creates a substantial risk of death or that causes death, serious permanent disfigurement, or protracted loss or impairment of the function of any bodily member or organ [Texas Penal Code Section 1.07(a)(46). Aggravated Assault with a Deadly Weapon occurs where a person uses or exhibits a deadly weapon during the commission of an assault. "Deadly weapon" means a firearm or anything manifestly designed, made, or adapted for the purpose of inflicting death or serious bodily injury, or anything that in the manner of its use or intended use is capable of causing death or serious bodily injury. Aggravated Assault with Serious Bodily Injury and Aggravated Assault with a Deadly Weapon are usually charged as second degree felonies.
iv. Injury to a Child, to an Elderly Person or to a Disabled Person
Charges of Injury to a Child, Injury to an Elderly Individual, or Injury to a Disabled Person are felonies, although the degree of felony depends upon the actor’s level of intent and the extent of injury to the alleged victim.
If you are in need of an attorney for an assault case, contact our office today at (915) 838-0338 for your free consultation.