Aggravated crimes are treated more seriously than other crimes and carry higher sentences on conviction in Texas.
To be charged with an aggravated crime, a defendant must have committed an act that rendered the offense more dangerous.
For example, if you break into a house, you would likely to be charged with burglary. However, if you were brandishing a loaded gun or a knife, the offense would likely be upped to aggravated burglary.
You don’t need to threaten anyone with the gun to be hit with an aggravated burglary charge in Texas. Having a gun at the burglary scene can be enough to be charged with an aggravated offense.
Some of the guidelines that investigators and prosecutors use when considering if a crime is aggravated in Texas include:
The Possession or Use of a Weapon
The use of a weapon is one of the most common ways an offense in Texas can be upgraded to aggravated. A simple robbery at a store or a gas station, for example, is likely to be upgraded if a weapon is used.
Injury to the Victim
The defendant can face an aggravated assault charge if the victim suffers an injury during the incident. If two people get into a fight that does not lead to an injury, the parties are likely to be charged with assault. However, if a serious injury results it is likely to be upgraded to an aggravated assault.
Aggravated assaults are usually charged as second-degree felonies but may be first degree felonies in certain circumstances detailed here.
The Nature of the Victim
Crimes against people in certain professions such as cops, emergency workers, judges, the disabled or other public officials are often upgraded to aggravated crimes. Texas also has a new law that means an attack on a police officer or a judge may become a hate crime.
The Penalties for Aggravated Crimes in Texas
The penalty for an aggravated crime like an aggravated assault if it’s charged as a second-degree felony is 2 to 20 years in a Texas prison and/or a fine of up to $10,000.
Aggravated assault may become a first-degree felony carrying a prison term of 5 years to life, in certain cases such as domestic violence or attacks on police officers, public officials or witnesses to a crime.
Aggravated crimes are very serious in Texas. If you have been charged with a crime of this nature, please contact our Tarrant County criminal defense lawyer.