Many people are unaware of how assault charges are brought in Texas. They don’t realize the alleged victim of an assault does not have to press charges.
Assault charges are actually brought by the state or a prosecutor. The prosecutor is the person who carries that charge forward on behalf of the state. It’s a common misconception that a victim presses the charges.
The process may not always be a fast one. Once a police report is compiled, it can be forwarded to the District Attorney’s office to decide whether to proceed with a criminal charge.
In the case of a misdemeanor assault, the D.A.’s office would proceed by filing what is known as a “complaint”. In a felony case, the matter must go to a grand jury, a group of citizens who determine whether there is enough evidence to go forward.
Under Texas law, an assault can be a misdemeanor or a felony, as we describe on our website.
If you are charged with an offense, it can certainly drag although a plea agreement can shorten the process.
Even if the victim decides he or she does not want to proceed with the charge, the prosecutor may take it forward. In many family cases, the prosecutor may believe the victim is being pressured to drop the charges by a relative.
Texas has a separate offense of assault on a family member. Bear in mind, a family member is very widely defined and goes beyond your immediate family. It can also be someone in a dating relationship. You don’t need to be a long term or a serious relationship to be charged with an assault on a family member.
There are some more serious consequences of being charged with an assault against a family member. It may still be Class A misdemeanor, but even if you get deferred adjudication and successfully complete it, you will have a record for family violence that you cannot expunge or hide that from your record. When you have completed your sentence, you will still be considered to hold a prior conviction for family member assault. This will be relevant it you are accused of subsequent offenses.
Our Tarrant County criminal defense attorney has decades of helping people accused of assault charges in and around Fort Worth. Please call us at (682) 204-4066 for a free consultation.