Assault Defense Lawyer Dallas
Assault Defense Lawyer Dallas Can Help In Understanding Simple Assault In Texas
An assault defense lawyer in Dallas can provide relevant information in helping you understand simple assault charges in Texas.
What Is Assault?
To understand simple assault in Texas, it’s important to first define assault in Texas. As per Texas Penal Code 22.01, assault is broader than physical altercations. It involves causing bodily injury, threatening bodily injury, or causing physical contact in an offensive or aggressive manner.
Define Simple Assault
From the definition of assault in Texas, simple assault is the minor form of assault i.e., making unwanted physical contact or touching another person without their permission. In Texas, simple assault is generally treated as a misdemeanor (Class C) that attracts fines up to $500. However, the fine can be more depending on the specifics of the case.
Generally, simple assault doesn’t involve any bodily harm, deadly weapons or pain. It is just simply unwanted touching meant to annoy or provoke. While the definition is simplistic, the reality can be different i.e., involving many scenarios, multiple actions, and multiple people. As a result, a Class C misdemeanor can quickly graduate to a more serious offense.
A typical example would be in an argument where one person pokes the other person with their finger. The person who initiates the unwanted contact (poking) can be charged with Class C – misdemeanor. However, there can be other players and actions in play i.e., shouting at someone and then accidentally bumping on them, threatening, or shoving.
The definition can also include intentional recklessness, which has a broad definition. What’s more, simple assault can also involve saying something to someone that makes them feel violated even if there is no contact involved.
Given the unique nature of simple assault, it is important to seek professional legal advice. Simple assault lawyers in Texas have the know-how to deal with such cases. An experienced attorney can establish a strong defense avoiding potential escalation of charges or hefty penalties and consequences.
Penalties Of A Simple Assault Charge In Texas
Simple assault penalties generally depend on the victim in question, level of harm, and a defendant’s criminal history. If a person is found guilty, they can pay fines, face prison time, probation, or restitution payments.
I. Penalties For A Simple Assault Qualifying A Misdemeanor
Generally, simple assault charges qualify as Class C misdemeanors if the case in question involves offensive contact or threatening physical harm. A Class C misdemeanor charge can also graduate into a Class B or Class A misdemeanor. Assuming the offender assaults a disabled or elderly person, the Class C misdemeanor will very likely graduate to a Class A misdemeanor.
Suppose the victim is a sports official or a participant of an event and they are assaulted during the event for reasons such as retaliation for doing their work. In that case, the misdemeanor will be treated as Class B. All these types of misdemeanors have different penalties in Texas.
Class C misdemeanors attract the least penalties i.e., a fine not exceeding $500.
Class B misdemeanors attract jail time and a fine i.e., jail time not exceeding 180 days and a fine of up to $2,000.
Class A misdemeanors are the most severe. An offense can attract a $4,000 fine and a year in jail.
II. Penalties For A Simple Assault Qualifying As A Felony
A simple assault in Texas could be upgraded to a felony charge if it established that there was a bodily injury during the physical contact. The victim in question can also make a simple assault charge to be upgraded to a felony charge.
For instance, if the physical contact involves a victim who is a security officer, public servant, government employee, or contractor in a correctional facility, secure rehabilitation facility, or treatment center. The same applies to simple assault directed to emergency service personnel like an EMT or firefighter.
There’s more. If the simple assault involves bodily injury and the victim is pregnant, the offense is treated as a 3rd-degree felony. Other instances of simple assault charges being upgraded to a 3rd-degree felony include cases where accused persons are repeat offenders with a history of domestic abuse or family violence.
Repeat offenders who assault individuals qualifying as a protected class, a family member, a domestic partner can be graduated to aggravated assault resulting in a 1st or 2nd-degree felony charge, which has severe consequences.
3rd-degree felony charges attract between 2 to 10 years in jail and fines not exceeding $10,000.
2nd-degree felony charges attract 2 to 20 years in jail and a fine not exceeding $10,000. A typical example would be assaulting and injuring a judge or office on duty.
1st-degree felony charges attract the longest jail term (maximum of 99 years) and a fine not exceeding $10,000.
Besides the typical penalties for misdemeanors and felonies, a judge can order the defendant to pay restitution. The compensation caters for any expenses a victim may have incurred directly and indirectly due to the assault. Typical restitution penalties cater for counseling costs and treatment, or repair costs if any.
IV. Other Penalties
If found guilty, defendants also face other penalties. Simple assault convictions could attract community service, and a civil lawsuit (if the victim was injured). The court can also order compulsory anger management classes.
Defendants found guilty can also be put on probation (community supervision) instead of going to jail. This usually happens with offenses that attract jail terms of 2 to 10 years. Alternatively, the court can order a jail term before ordering probation.
In most cases, courts in Texas order 30 days in jail for misdemeanors and 180 days for felonies before defendants can be put on probation. Defendants are required to finish probation successfully and meet all other conditions that the court has imposed otherwise, the defendant will spend the rest of their sentence in prison.
Typically, individuals on probation must meet regularly with a specific probation officer, comply with conditions like paying for probation costs, receiving treatment, abiding by curfews, maintaining employment, and avoiding further arrests or criminal activity.
Other Eventualities With Simple Assault Cases In Texas
Simple assault charges can also attract a deferred adjudication i.e., a postponement of the sentencing provided a defendant complies with probation requirements successfully. The conditions are typically the same as those of normal probation i.e., the defendant must avoid being arrested again, he/she must pay restitution and complete community service.
If the conditions are met, the court can dismiss the case. However, the arrest, dismissal, or deferral will be included in a defendant’s criminal record. If the conditions aren’t met, the court proceeds and impose the sentence. Deferred adjudication is common with first offenders.
Fighting Simple Assault Charges In Texas
While many people can overlook simple assault charges as minor charges that aren’t serious, the above information indicates otherwise. Simple assault can easily be upgraded to serious charges depending on the circumstances in play. If you are a repeat offender, for instance, you can easily land in jail and face hefty fines.
Defendants who assault pregnant women, government officials, police officers, and those that cause injury or use deadly weapons face the most stringent consequences.
Considering simple assault convictions are also recorded in a person’s criminal record, the importance of using legal experts can’t be overlooked. What’s more, a conviction can affect your chances of securing certain jobs or housing. Employers and landlords check criminal records before granting employment or renting out their property. A simple assault conviction can be viewed as a violent crime conviction resulting in serious future consequences.
A seasoned assault defense lawyer in Dallas can exploit several defenses to have simple assault charges dismissed or reduced. Attorneys can also seek more options like deferred adjudication.
Common Defenses Against A Simple Assault Charge
An assault defense lawyer in Dallas can use self-defense to fight simple assault. He/she can argue that you made unwanted physical contact or threatened the victim in self-defense. The assault can also be claimed to have been accidental. Your lawyer can argue that you made unwanted contact accidentally by showing there was no intention to harm the victim.
Your lawyer could also claim you were defending your property. If you made contact to stop the other person from destroying your property, defense of property can be a usable defense.
If the simple assault case is linked to unwanted bodily contact that is invasive/sexual in nature, it can be argued that there was consent. If the victim agreed to the contact and it is proven, it is possible to have the simple assault charges dismissed.
Some people are also accused falsely of simple assault. Mistaken identity can be used if the victim isn’t sure who initiated the unwanted contact because there were many other people present. If your lawyer can prove that the victim isn’t sure beyond reasonable doubt that you are the person who initiated unwanted contact, the case can be dismissed.
Another common simple assault defense is lack of evidence. If the simple assault isn’t proven to have been done knowingly, recklessly, or intentionally, a judge can dismiss the charges. You need a good simple assault attorney in Texas to show that the charge lacks any of these three elements. Looking for an assault defense lawyer in Dallas, Texas? Try The Medlin Law Firm.