WHAT IS ASSAULT?
Assault in the State of Texas is defined as the intention, knowledge or even reckless action that can cause bodily harm to someone. This can also include knowingly threatening someone with bodily harm. This definition even goes so far as to include activities with the intent of knowing your action will be perceived as hostile and knowing your action will be seen as provocative to someone. The theme of assault is the intention, the intention being a premeditated action against someone even if no physical contact happens. There are two main types of assault: simple and aggravated These types can play a role in how severe the consequences are.
A simple assault is when someone is slightly injured or has the fear of being injured, this type of assault does not need to involve a weapon. This type of assault can be simply getting in someone’s space knowing you are provoking them. Another type of simple assault could even be any physical contact such as simply pushing someone away from you. Simple assault can be charged against you when you resist an arrest by a police officer, a constable, a sheriff, a highway patrol officer, a state trooper or even the school police. These examples can be considered assault in the State of Texas and can start as a Class A misdemeanor against you.
Verbal assault is another simple type of assault that is commonly experienced by adults in the United States. A verbal assault is when you are verbally threatened in a way that makes you fear for your life, safety or well-being. This type of assault can happen simply while driving your car. For example, you could be simply driving to work and all of the sudden another driver is speeding and decides to have road rage causing an accident or an incident while you are on the road driving to work. You all of a sudden feel you are being threatened by another driver, thus making you feel nervous, scared or unsafe causing you to panic or feel fear for your person or life without knowing what will happen next. Verbal assault can also happen in a relationship, such as with your friends, your family, your neighbors or even in a marriage. This type of situation can make you feel small, not confident, scared and depressed, leading to isolation and fear of reaching out to family, friends or others for help. This kind of situation can also be trauma-inducing and may be difficult to cope with, causing you some health issues which can lead to mental health issues as well.
CRIMINAL PROCEDURE FOR ASSAULT
An assault is prosecuted against you in the Criminal Justice Court in the county in which a person performs the assault and as such, it would go through the Code of Criminal Procedures. There are several steps in the criminal process. For example, to name a few, an investigation of the incident, the charging of the incident, an arraignment or hearing to be heard before the Court and in some instances, a plea bargain is acceptable or the case can be simply dismissed for any reasonable cause. A defendant is considered innocent until proven guilty. The criminal process could be short and simple or long and complicated. An arrest for assault usually is made by a police officer, a constable, a sheriff, a highway patrol officer, a state trooper or even school police. You would be given a date and time to appear before the Criminal Justice Court and told that you must appear or a warrant will be issued for your arrest. Depending on the type of assault, you can be arrested on the spot and be incarcerated and forced to wait to go to court for an arraignment or a hearing to make your plea or argument. This could result in you waiting for weeks. When the case is heard in court before the judge, the judge will consider the charges that have been made against you and hear your argument as well as the other person(s) argument. The judge would then make a ruling in your case and advise you on posting bail, serving jail time or completing community service. If bail is not granted, it could be based on the assumption that you are deemed a threat to your wife, your husband, a family member, a friend, the injured party or the public. When bail is denied, you can either post bond and wait for your trial or spend the time in jail awaiting the trial. During this period, it is recommended to seek a criminal defense lawyer who can help prepare evidence to defend you and your case. The Law Office of Bryan Fagan has plenty of helpful lawyers who are readily available to defend you and your rights.
If you decide not to hire an attorney to represent you in your criminal case, the court will appoint a prosecutor of their choice. This is a defense attorney, also called a defendant’s attorney. This could lead to possibly losing your case if not all the proper documents are filed with the court. The next step in your criminal case is that you will be appointed to a court hearing date and time. At this hearing date, you will need to appear in court with your defense attorney who was appointed to you by the court.
At this hearing, your defense attorney will present any evidence in his possession that you provided to him or her to prove to the court you are indeed an innocent person who was falsely charged. While your defense attorney is making his argument, the plaintiff’s attorney or injured party, also known as the plaintiff, will be trying to bring all the evidence they have in their possession against you to make you look guilty. If you are found guilty of an assault in the State of Texas, and it is found to be classified as a Class A misdemeanor, it can be punishable by up to one year in jail, a fine of $4,000 or both jail time and a fine.
While a criminal case of an assault is proceeding you may or may not also face a civil case charge by the injured party claiming personal injuries or trauma. In this case, you might have to provide compensation for things such as physical and mental therapy and medical bills. And you can even possibly have to pay the other person for their loss of income because he or she is unable to work due to their pain, suffering and injuries they obtained by you. A civil case does have an expiration date in which the other party must file a suit against you, this is called a statute of limitation. The statute of limitation for a civil suit is two years. Meaning the assaulted or injured person has two years to file a civil case against you along with any criminal charges of assault.
In a civil case, if the injured person does not file a civil suit against you within those two years, then the injured party cannot claim a civil suit against you later after the deadline has passed.
OPTIONS TO DEFEND YOUR CASE
Some options can help prove your case of innocence; the most common defense is self-defense. To claim this defense, you must prove there was a threat or type of harm presented for you to act. There must be reasonable fear that you were in danger of being harmed and the fear or threat of harm did not come from your part of the altercation. It would also be beneficial to you to prove there was no way to escape the altercation or retreat from confrontation without the use of force.
Another way to defend your case would be the defense of others, this is similar to self-defense but that it would be the protection of another. To prove this, you must give reasonable cause that you felt the other party was in danger and you had to act on their behalf. A good way to bolster this defense option would be to ask the protected party to stand as a witness during your case.
Defense of property can also be used as a defense reason in your case. In the State of Texas, there is a law called Stand your Ground/Castle Doctrine; which states, if you are justified in using force against another; you deem it necessary to prevent or terminate the other party from trespassing. An example of this would be using a bat to fight off a home intruder in the middle of the night. The assault would be deemed as protection of one’s property and can be used as a defense for an assault charge.
There is also consented assault, which is when the other party consents to be assaulted but this can be tricky; as there is a limit to the assault consented that the other party can have that you might have not known you crossed. The famous TV series and movie franchise Jackass is a great example of consented assault, these men allow each other to be assaulted for pure entertainment and laughs without pressing charges against each other. This can be a great defense to go with if there were verbal or written agreements to the level of assault that were made before the assault happened. Then you would be able to prove the other party agreed with a certain level of assault to take place and anything more than that could have been simply an accident with no intention to harm.
NEED AN ATTORNEY, CALL US!
If you find yourself with this type of charge, it is highly recommended to get an attorney to give you the best chance possible of winning your case. At the Law Office of Bryan Fagan, there are multiple attorneys with knowledge and experience in Criminal Law that can help you navigate the court system. We offer free consultations in person and via Zoom to provide you with as much information as possible to give you the best defense.