Texas’ reputation for being tough on crime is clearly seen through the state’s capital punishment laws, incarceration rates, and shaming sanctions.
The Lonestar State has a history of imposing lengthy and largely punitive criminal punishments on those convicted of crimes.
As such, those accused of crimes, like assault and aggravated assault, often face challenges asserting their defenses and rights under the Constitution.
If you have been arrested or charged with simple or aggravated assault in South Texas, you should contact the Austin Hagee Law Firm at 210-987-9703.
A San Antonio criminal defense attorney at the firm can help you understand your charges, rights, and potential defenses.
What Is Aggravated Assault?
To commit an aggravated assault, the accused must first commit an assault. Texas defines assault as:
- Intentionally, knowingly, or recklessly causing bodily injury to another person;
- Intentionally or knowingly threatening another person with imminent bodily injury; or
- Intentionally or knowingly causing physical contact with another when the person knows or should reasonably believe that the other person will regard the contact as offensive or provocative.
A person commits aggravated assault if they assault another person and:
- Cause serious bodily injury to the victim, or
- Uses or exhibits a deadly weapon during the commission of the assault.
Texas considers aggravated assault a felony of the second degree. However, suppose the actor used a deadly weapon during the assault and caused serious bodily injury to a family member or intimate partner.
In that case, the offense is a felony of the first degree. There are other circumstances where aggravated assault is charged as a first-degree felony, such as:
- When the assault is committed by or against a public servant;
- When the assault is committed in retaliation against a witness, informant, or person who reported a crime; or
- If the alleged assailant shot a firearm from a motor vehicle at a house, building, or motor vehicle with reckless disregard for whether it is occupied and causes serious bodily injury to the victim.
If you are facing criminal allegations, contact a San Antonio criminal defense lawyer for aggravated assault at Austin Hagee Law Firm, PLLC.
Penalties for Aggravated Assault
In Texas, a felony of the second degree carries the possibility of up to 20 years in prison, with a minimum sentence of 2 years and a fine of up to $10,000.
A first-degree felony carries the possibility of up to 99 years in prison, with a minimum sentence of 5 years and a fine of up to $10,000.
Defenses to Aggravated Assault Charges
In some cases, a valid legal defense can help your attorney convince the prosecutor to reduce your aggravated assault charge or even drop the charge altogether.
Examples of a valid legal defense in an aggravated assault case include:
- The victim did not suffer serious bodily injury,
- You did not use a deadly weapon during the assault, or
- You acted in self-defense.
A San Antonio aggravated assault lawyer can review the details of your case and determine whether a legal defense applies.
What Is the Difference Between Assault and Aggravated Assault?
The term assault is frequently used to describe an array of conduct; however, there are critical distinctions between “simple assault” and “aggravated assault” in Texas.
Broadly, you can be charged with assault if you cause or threaten physical injury to another person.
The type of charge a person receives depends on the severity of the victim’s injuries, the relationship between the perpetrator and the victim, and whether a weapon was involved.
Simple Assault Charges
Texas Penal Code Title 5, Chapter 22.01 explains that a person commits simple assault if they do the following:
- Knowingly, intentionally, or recklessly cause another person bodily injury;
- Intentionally or knowingly threaten another party with imminent bodily injury; or
- Intentionally or knowingly causing physical contact to another individual that the offender knows or reasonably should know will be treated as provocative or offensive by the victim.
Simple assault charges range from Class C to Class A offenses and can be punishable by up to a year in jail and a fine of up to $4,000.
Aggravated Assault Charges in Texas
Texas Penal Code Title 5, Chapter Sec. 22.02, states that a person commits aggravated assault when they commit an assault and do one of the following:
- Cause serious bodily injury to another; or
- Use or brandish a deadly weapon during the assault.
Texas also uses assault in other crimes, such as sexual assault, aggravated sexual assault, and indecent assault. Each of these offenses includes specific elements unique to the charges.
What Does the Austin Hagee Law Firm, PLLC Bring to the Table?
Dealing with criminal allegations is a stressful, overwhelming process. A qualified aggravated assault attorney will stand by your side every step of the way.
The criminal defense attorneys at Austin Hagee Law Firm, PLLC, have experience from the other side of the aisle as prosecutors, so our team knows what to expect when we take your case to court.
We have extensive courtroom experience and know what it takes to bring out the strengths in our clients’ cases to secure a favorable outcome for them.
At Austin Hagee Law Firm, PLLC we are committed to ensuring our clients receive the best possible representation for their unique circumstances.
Are You Facing San Antonio Assault Charges?
If you have been charged with an assault offense in San Antonio, and want to better understand what the difference is between assault and aggravated assault, reach out to the dedicated criminal defense lawyers at the Austin Hagee Law Firm.
We have extensive experience handling high-stakes cases on behalf of our clients. With more than 100 dismissals under our belt, we understand what it takes to get your case resolved with as little impact on your future as possible.
To schedule a free consultation today, give us a call at 210-987-9703. You can also reach us through our online contact form.
How Long Can You Go to Jail for Aggravated Assault?
In most cases, aggravated assault is a second-degree felony. A conviction can result in 2 to 20 years in prison and fines of up to $10,000. In some situations, especially domestic violence cases, the offense can result in first-degree felony charges.
How Much Time Can a Juvenile Get for Aggravated Assault?
Texas considers children between the ages of 10 and 16 juveniles. But there is no difference in the definition of aggravated assault as it applies to adults or juveniles—the elements are the same for both.
So if a child uses or exhibits a deadly weapon or causes great injury during an assault, the prosecutor can charge them with aggravated assault. And for purposes of this law, a rock, a baseball bat, or any similar object can qualify as a deadly weapon.
Such a charge is typically a felony of the second degree. And if the juvenile is over age 14 and uses a deadly weapon or causes serious bodily harm, the State could charge and try them as an adult. In these cases, the juvenile can face 2 to 20 years in prison.
If the case remains in juvenile court, there is the risk that juvenile detention can eventually transfer into adult confinement, but this will depend on the age of the actor and the facts of the case.
When Can You Claim Self-Defense?
An attorney can assert self-defense if they can prove that your actions were justified as a defense against a person who acted violently or threatened you.
However, this defense is only viable if you can prove you used the minimum force necessary to protect yourself in the situation. This is often referred to as proportional reasonable force.
How Can I Get Aggravated Assault Charges Dropped?
In some cases, the prosecution or court may drop or dismiss aggravated assault charges. The prosecution may drop the charges if the witness lacks credibility or there is insufficient admissible evidence to charge or convict you.
In addition, an attorney can help you beat an aggravated assault charge by arguing the following:
- Violation of constitutional protection stemming from unlawful searches and seizures;
- Violations of procedures regarding arresting, booking, and questioning; or
- Arguing that there was a lack of probable cause to make an arrest or search.
Depending on the facts and circumstances of the charges, an experienced criminal defense attorney might be able to have the charges dropped or dismissed before or during the trial. If necessary, your legal team should be willing and able to try your case in front of a jury and fight to clear your name.