Aggravated Assault is a felony assault charge that is commonly filed in Fort Worth and throughout Texas. It is defined under Texas Penal Code Section 22.02 and is generally considered an assault that is made more serious due to certain aggravating factors. Surprisingly to many, and as our Aggravated Assault Lawyer Fort Worth explains, this charge does not require actual physical injuries. Learn more about Aggravated Assault, including Aggravated Assault by Threat (which does not require any injury) below.
Types of Aggravated Assault in Texas
Here are the distinctions between the different types of aggravated assault:
Aggravated Assault with a Deadly Weapon
This occurs when an individual uses or exhibits a deadly weapon (e.g., a firearm, knife) during the commission of an assault. The presence of a deadly weapon elevates the severity of the offense.
Aggravated Assault Causing Serious Bodily Injury
This involves causing serious bodily injury to another person intentionally, knowingly, or recklessly. Serious bodily injury refers to an injury that creates a substantial risk of death or that causes death, serious permanent disfigurement, or protracted loss or impairment of the function of any bodily member or organ.
Aggravated Assault by Threat
Because Texas has the offense of Assault by Threat under Penal Code 22.01, an aggravated assault by threat case can be filed if the allegation is that a person threatened imminent bodily injury while using or exhibiting a deadly weapon.
What is Serious Bodily Injury vs. Bodily Injury in Texas
“Bodily Injury” in Texas law means any form of physical harm inflicted upon an individual. This includes not just visible injuries but also internal conditions that induce physical pain, illness, or any impairment, however temporary, of an individual’s physical capabilities. In legal proceedings, establishing bodily injury is foundational to validating claims of physical harm, though it’s worth noting that the scope of bodily injury, while encompassing a range of physical ailments, doesn’t inherently imply a severe or long-lasting condition.
In stark contrast, “Serious Bodily Injury” denotes a more grave condition. Legally, it’s characterized as an injury that presents a substantial risk of death, or that results in enduring or significant disfigurement, or long-term loss or impairment of the function of any bodily member or organ. This definition is pivotal in cases where the severity of the injury elevates the stakes, potentially leading to heightened compensations or more severe legal repercussions for the party at fault.
What is a deadly weapon in Texas?
Any object that, in the manner of its use or intended use, is capable of causing death or serious bodily injury. This definition encompasses not just inherently dangerous objects like guns or knives, but also seemingly ordinary objects that can be used in a way that makes them capable of causing significant harm. For instance, a car driven recklessly or a rope used to strangle someone can be considered a deadly weapon in this context.
What is the punishment range for Aggravated Assault in Texas?
Aggravated Assault is usually a second degree felony but it can become a first degree felony under certain circumstances.
Second-Degree Felony (the default categorization for aggravated assault):
- Imprisonment: 2 to 20 years in a state prison.
- Fine: Up to $10,000.
First-Degree Felony (if certain aggravating factors are present, such as the victim being a public servant, a witness, a security officer, or if the offense is committed in a domestic situation or involves a deadly weapon and results in serious bodily injury to a family member or partner):
- Imprisonment: 5 to 99 years, or life, in a state prison.
- Fine: Up to $10,000.
Defenses Described by Aggravated Assault Lawyer Fort Worth
In Texas, affirmative defenses are legal defenses used in criminal cases where the defendant admits to the conduct that forms the basis of the charge but argues that there was a justifiable reason for the conduct under the law. For the charge of aggravated assault, several affirmative defenses might be applicable, depending on the specific circumstances of the case. Some of the common affirmative defenses include:
Self-Defense: Arguably the most common affirmative defense, self-defense is claiming that the defendant committed the act of assault to protect themselves from the imminent and unlawful use of force by another individual. The use of force must be reasonable and necessary under the circumstances to prevent harm to oneself.
Defense of Others: Similar to self-defense, this defense involves the use of force to protect another person. The defendant must reasonably believe that the person they are defending is in immediate danger of bodily harm and that the use of force is necessary to prevent that harm.
Defense of Property: In some cases, a person may use force to defend their property from unlawful interference or theft. However, the use of force must be reasonable and proportionate to the threat posed.
Duress: This defense is used when the defendant claims that they were forced to commit the assault due to an immediate threat of serious bodily injury or death from another person. The threat must be present, immediate, or impending at the time of the offense, and there must be no reasonable escape from the threat other than committing the assault.
Necessity: The defense of necessity is used when the defendant argues that they committed the act to prevent a greater harm. The harm prevented must be more significant than the harm caused by the assault, and there must be no other legal alternatives available to avoid the harm.
Lack of Mental State: In some cases, the defendant may argue that they did not have the required mental state (intentionally, knowingly, or recklessly) to commit aggravated assault. This might involve proving that the act was accidental or a result of a misunderstanding.
Mistake of Fact: This defense is applicable if the defendant had a reasonable belief about a fact that, if true, would make the conduct lawful. It must be a reasonable mistake and cannot be used if the belief was based on recklessness or negligence.
Charged? Call our Aggravated Assault Fort Worth Lawyer
If you have been charged with aggravated assault in Fort Worth or anywhere in Tarrant County, give us a call. We have successfully resolved allegations of aggravated assault time and time again. You can reach us at (817) 203-2220.