Getting Help When Charged With Assault in Dallas, TX
If you have been charged with assault in Dallas, you must get help from an experienced criminal defense attorney as soon as possible. Assault charges can be very serious and have significant consequences. Under Texas law, assault charges range from misdemeanors to felonies depending on the circumstances.
What is Assault?
There are three ways that an individual can commit assault:
- Intentionally, knowingly, or recklessly cause bodily injury to another person;
- Intentionally or knowingly threaten another person with imminent bodily injury; or
- Intentionally or knowingly cause physical contact with another person when he knows or should reasonably believe that the other person will regard the contact as offensive or provocative.
Bodily injury has a very expansive definition under Texas law and includes any injury that causes physical pain. There is no requirement that the injury be visible, like a cut or bruise. Surprisingly, even actions such as pulling hair or slapping are defined as causing bodily injury under Texas law. Furthermore, “provocative” or “offensive” contact could be as minor as poking somebody in the chest.
To be charged with assault for threatening another person, the individual must have a reasonable fear that you are about to cause bodily injury. For example, if you point a gun at someone from your car window but they never notice, it is not considered assault. But if you point a gun at someone and they see, it is assault, regardless of whether or not the gun was loaded.
Simple Assault in Dallas
A simple assault that only involves threatening or causing offensive contact is usually a Class C misdemeanor, which is punishable by a fine of up $500. You do not need to even touch someone to be convicted of Class C assault. However, threatening certain types of people could bump up the charge. If you threaten or cause offensive contact to a sports official, the assault is a Class B misdemeanor, which is punishable by a fine of up to $2,000 and 180 days in jail. If you threaten or cause offensive contact to an elderly person, the assault is Class A misdemeanor.
A simple assault that causes minor bodily injuries is usually a Class A misdemeanor, which is punishable by a fine of up to $4,000 and up to one year in jail.
A simple assault causing minor injuries can be bumped up from a Class A misdemeanor to a third-degree felony if:
- The assault was committed against a family member or domestic partner;
- The assault was committed against a public servant or government official (usually a police officer); or
- The assault was committed against a security guard or emergency services worker.
A third-degree felony is punishable by a fine of up to $10,000 and two to ten years in prison.
Aggravated assaults are much more serious than simple assaults and carry far higher penalties. There are two ways that an individual can commit aggravated assault in Dallas:
- Cause serious bodily injury to another person, or
- Use or exhibit a deadly weapon during the commission of the assault.
Serious bodily injury means bodily injury that creates a substantial risk of death or that causes death, serious disfigurement, or protracted loss or impairment of the function of any bodily member or organ. A broken leg, scarring, and concussions are all examples of serious bodily injury.
Aggravated assault is usually a second-degree felony that is punishable with fines of up to $10,000 and 2 to 20 years in prison. Aggravated assault could become a first-degree felony if the assault was committed against a family member, public official, security guard, informant, or witness to a crime. First-degree felonies are punishable with fines of up to $10,000 and up to 99 years in prison.
Defending Assault Charges in Dallas, TX
There are several defenses that your attorney can make if you have been charged with assault. First, your Dallas, TX defense attorney could argue that there is not enough evidence to prove that the assault ever happened. The state must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that you committed the crime. You could challenge the evidence the state presents, including the eye-witness testimony.
Alternatively, your assault lawyer could present an affirmative defense, meaning that you were justified in committing the assault. There are two primary affirmative defenses in Texas: self-defense and defense of property.
Under Texas self-defense law, you have the right to use force if it is necessary to protect yourself or someone else from imminent danger. You can present a self-defense claim, even if you could have retreated but instead decided to stand your ground and use force.
You also have the right to use force if it is immediately necessary to protect your land or property from trespass or interference. You are only permitted to use an amount of force needed to protect your property.
Your Dallas Assault Attorney
If you were arrested in Dallas on assault charges, you must reach out to an experienced criminal defense attorney. Philip D. Ray is a local Dallas criminal defense attorney who will fight to provide you the best defense. Call Philip D. Ray today at (214) 845-7987.