Offenses alleging assault cover a wide range of offenses. Violent crimes are typically charged as felonies, which means the potential for greater punishment and more collateral consequences, like losing the right to vote or ownership and use of any guns you possess. As it is, a charge related to a violent crime can be significant and collateral consequences are significant, which means you must take significant steps to defend yourself.
What Constitutes Assault in Texas?
Each state classifies assaultive offensives according to its own statutes. Generally speaking, assaultive crimes involve the use of force against a complainant or victim. The use of force typically includes physical abuse or force, threat of force or an attempt to use force. Assaultive offenses are aggravated when the alleged offender uses a deadly weapon, uses force against a certain class or categorization of people (e.g., the elderly, children, or emergency personnel), or the assault results in serious bodily injury (bodily 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").
Examples of Violent Crimes in Texas
Sometimes referred to as offenses against the person, assault offenses include conduct ranging from assault to murder.
Examples of crimes involving assault include:
- Domestic Violence (Family Violence)
- Aggravated Assault
- Rape and other sexual assaults
- Capital Murder
Potential Penalties for Convictions of Assaultive Crimes in Texas
The classification of a crime involving assault as a felony or misdemeanor usually depends on the level of injury caused to the alleged victim(s) or if a weapon was alleged to have been used during the commission of the assault. Most violent crimes are classified as felonies and attract harsh sentences, even for first-time offenders.
The penalties for violent crimes include but are not limited to
- Community service
- Rehabilitation or treatment classes
- Sentencing to County Jail Time
- Parole following imprisonment
Offenders can also be required to pay restitution to the victim. Given the repercussions of violent crimes and the need for general deterrence, a conviction for a violent crime can often result in a lengthy period of imprisonment.
More consequences, however, flow from a conviction aside from the sentence. These are known as collateral consequences and can include:
- Loss of job
- Difficulty finding a job
- Difficulty attaining higher education
- Difficulty obtaining a loan for a car, home, ability to lease an apartment or house, or anything else
- Loss of voting rights (if a felony conviction)
- Loss of the right to own and use a firearm (if a felony conviction)
A skilled criminal defense lawyer in Texas can help you first defend against violent crime charges. Depending on your circumstances, this could mean dismissal, reduced charges, a plea deal, or an acquittal. If you are convicted, a skilled criminal defense lawyer can also help you manage the collateral consequences of a conviction.
Defenses in Texas to a Violent Crimes Charge
The defenses available to a defendant will depend on the circumstances of their case. When it comes to defending a violent crime in Texas, defendants often do not deny their actions but instead argue that there was a legal excuse for them.
Self-defense is one of the most well-known defenses against a charge of a violent crime. It is used when a defendant assaults or kills another person in defense of themselves or someone else. In these situations, the circumstances may legally justify the defendant's use of force. However, the force used must be reasonable and proportionate.
Lack of intent
Most crimes require the prosecution to establish that the defendant intended to commit the act. In the absence of criminal intent, a defendant may be able to defend against a violent crime allegation. For example, if a defendant was intoxicated or mentally incapacitated at the time of the offense, they could argue they were unable to form the intent needed for criminal responsibility.
In limited circumstances, the court may find that a victim consented to a violent crime. For example, where a victim willingly participates in a boxing match and is injured. Consent is a complex defense and is highly specific to the circumstances of a case.
Three Reasons Why You Need a Defense Attorney After an Involving Allegations of Assault
Getting charged with a violent crime can turn your life upside down. Here are three important reasons you need a violent crimes defense attorney.
- Plea Deals. Many alleged violent crimes offenders may be tempted to take the first plea deal, but if you are doing this on your own or with an inexperienced lawyer, that plea deal may actually work against you. You want a plea deal that benefits you. As it is, plea deals are not always your best option. So, you need a lawyer who can negotiate and pursue the best course of action for you.
- Honest Advice. Violent crimes are serious accusations. A conviction can really impact your life. Your reputation, personal relationships, job, and quite possibly your freedom are on the line. You need someone who will be candid and help you make smart moves as opposed to knee-jerk reactions.
- Full Picture. A prosecutor will not give you the whole scoop of what could or will happen, especially if you take a plea deal without representation. Also, the prosecutor will not tell you the extent and quality of the evidence they have against you, and you may not even know to ask. A lawyer gets the information and lays out the whole picture for you, identifying and explaining everything you need to know and how all options could potentially impact your life.
If you face a violent crimes charge in Harris County and Galveston County, it is ultimately in your best interests to retain a competent criminal defense lawyer. At Law Office of Anthony Ray Smith, we are here to get you through this process and on with your life.
Contact a Violent Crimes Defense Lawyer in Harris County and Galveston County Today
At Law Office of Anthony Ray Smith, our violent crimes defense lawyer in Harris County and Galveston County handles these types of sensitive cases. We are determined to secure the best result for every client, no matter the circumstances or the odds. Contact us at 713-242-8917 as soon as possible to schedule a free about your case.
Given their potentially catastrophic consequences, violent crimes attract some of the harshest sentences. If you have been accused of committing a violent crime, you should speak to a defense attorney at Law Office of Anthony Ray Smith immediately.