In Texas there are many assault related charges and punishment ranges that a person could face. A very minor incident could be treated as a Class C misdemeanor punishable by a fine only. But often times even an “assault” involving very minimal contact is charged as a Class A (Assault Causing Bodily Injury), which is punishable by a fine of up to $4,000 and 1 year in jail. What determines the charge is often arbitrary and depends on how law enforcement treats the incident. For example, if the police write it up as a Class C ticket in Wichita Falls, then it will be processed through the City Attorney’s office for prosecution. On the other hand, a Class A arrest will be followed up by a more detailed report and sent to the Wichita County Criminal District Attorney’s Office.
I often get asked, “how can they charge me with assault causing bodily injury when the other person wasn’t injured?”. The answer to that requires me to explain that Texas courts have defined “Bodily injury” as “physical pain, illness, or any impairment of physical condition.” So needless to say, there does not have to be a visible injury which can be observed or photographed.
It is important to remember that an arrest for a Class A misdemeanor Assault Family Violence may be charged as a 3rd Degree Felony (which carries a sentence of 2-10 years in prison) if the person has a previous conviction for Assault Family Violence. Moreover, an “ordinary” assault could become a Felony (Injury to a Child, Elderly, or Disabled) if it is committed against a child 14 or younger, a person 65 or older, or a disabled person.
Then of course there is the Second Degree Felony Offense of Aggravated Assault (sentencing range of 2-20 years in prison). Generally speaking, this can be charged if a person commits an assault resulting in serious bodily injury or if he uses a deadly weapon in the commission of the assault. There are other factors that could cause this to be charged as a First degree Felony (5-life).
In an Assault case (like any criminal charge) the State must prove every element of the offense beyond all reasonable doubt. The accused is never required to prove his innocence. There may be also be one or more defenses available depending on the facts of the case. It is very important to have an experienced and competent attorney who can exploit weaknesses in the State's case and present the best defensive theory available.
If you or a loved one is accused of any type of crime or Assault, don’t hesitate to call my office right now for a free consultation.