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In Texas, assault and battery charges, whether separate or in combination, are serious. A felony conviction for sexual assault, assault and battery, or aggravated battery may result in a long prison sentence and automatically revokes your right to vote and own a firearm.
If you have been charged with assault and battery or another violent crime, I will provide an aggressive defense. Contact my San Antonio criminal office for a free consultation.
Assaults are classified by various degrees
A Defendant can be charged with various levels of assault in Texas. Assaults range from 1st Degree assault, which is a "B Felony", punishable by a prison term ranging from 10 to 20 years, down to "Assault under Extreme Emotional Disturbance", which is a Class B Misdemeanor, punishable by up to 90 days, usually in the county jail. The degree of assault depends on several factors. These are (1) the type of mental state involved, (2) the nature of the resulting harm, and (3) the means by which such harm is inflicted.
For example, Assault in the First Degree requires the prosecutors to prove that the Defendant "intentionally caused serious physical injury", using a "deadly weapon", or a "dangerous instrument". Whether or not the Defendant "intended" the harm, whether or not the harm was indeed a "serious physical injury", and whether or not a weapon is deadly or an instrument is dangerous, are matters that are not entirely black and white. If any of these elements of the crime cannot be proven, the assault is something less than 1st Degree Assault.
Serious Physical Injury
Some injuries are obviously "serious physical injuries". Others are less clear. For example, a laceration in a victim's head, requiring 400 stitches, or a concussion, can be considered a "serious physical injury". The prosecution must prove, using the evidence in the case, that the injury was a "serious physical injury", in order to obtain a conviction for Assault in the First Degree.
Deadly Weapon or Dangerous Instrument
While a knife or a gun is obviously a deadly weapon or a dangerous instrument, other cases are not so clear. In some cases, items that are normally not considered weapons, such as a lug wrench, a motor vehicle, a bottle, or even a pair of shoes, can be considered a dangerous instrument, depending upon the manner in which these items are used.
Mental State of Defendant
Accidentally running over someone with your car would not be considered a crime, because there was no "intent" to injure that person. However, deliberately plotting to hit someone with the same vehicle, results in a "mental state" that is criminal (and makes the vehicle a "dangerous instrument" as well). There are varying degrees of mental state in assault cases, the level of which is determinative of the crime.
In many cases, a Defendant will act in what is known as an "extreme emotional disturbance". A good example of this would be if one found his or her spouse in a "compromising position" with a third party. In such a case, under Texas Law, the "extreme emotional disturbance" caused by such a discovery may operate to reduce the severity of the charges.
In many assault cases the defendant may not have intended to cause serious physical harm at all, or was acting in self defense. In these cases charges may be amended to reflect what really happened, and may ultimately be reduced. For example, if a violent action was in self-defense, that may operate as a complete defense against a Defendant, resulting in an acquittal by a Judge or Jury, or even in the charges being ultimately dismissed. "Self Defense" is known as an "affirmative defense", and must be brought before the Court in timely manner consistent with the Texas Rules of Criminal Procedure - otherwise such a defense is worthless.
A Thorough Investigation, Evaluation of the Evidence, and Persuasion are Key to a Viable Defense.
The key to a viable and effective criminal defense starts with good investigative techniques. If you have been charged with assault, my team of investigators will carefully evaluate all aspects of the incident leading to the charges. I personally investigate every aspect of an assault case to evaluate whether or not absolute defenses, such as self defense, I take pride in completely investigating any and all charges against our clients. This is done through a methodical and thorough procedure which includes collection of all statements of witnesses, including a review of their backgrounds, criminal histories, and other pertinent facts. I follow this up with a thorough evaluation of any physical evidence, including fingerprints, photographs, video surveillance, or laboratory reports. This evidentiary gathering process is followed by the filing of the appropriate motions and notices to the Court, so that my clients receive the absolute best in a criminal defense.
If you have been arrested, are under investigation, or have been charged with a violent crime such as assault, battery, stalking, terroristic threats, or domestic abuse call (210) 822-4200 or e-mail for a free consultation with an experienced San Antonio criminal attorney.