What Happens When You Press Charges on Someone for Assault in Texas?
Being an assault victim is a highly traumatic experience, and it's often intimidating to file an assault charge. However, understanding the law for an assault charge in Texas and filing it correctly will make all the difference in the world for those who want justice.
This article offers information about how to file the assault charge, the evidence to gather, potential legal outcomes of filing, and what happens to the alleged perpetrator throughout the process.
After being assaulted, it's wise to contact a lawyer for assistance, and Sparks Law Firm is here to help. Please call or use the online form to get started.
Filing an Assault Charge in Texas
As the alleged victim of an assault, it's crucial to take action immediately, filing a police report soon after the incident. When one files a police report, they should give as much detail as they can about the situation. This will include the date and time the assault happened, the location, and a description of the evidence that might support the claim.
Once the victim files a police report, it is sent to the district attorney in that county for review and prosecution. In most cases, the district attorney determines whether there is a criminal case and if an assault charge should be filed against the perpetrator.
It's crucial to remember that there's no guarantee of prosecution after filing an assault charge in Texas. There must be enough evidence to support that claim. Likewise, the district attorney could refuse to file charges if they believe proceeding with the case isn't justifiable or necessary.
What Does Assault Mean?
Assault in Texas is defined as knowingly, intentionally, or recklessly causing bodily injury to any other person. It doesn't require physical contact. In fact, threatening someone with harm could be considered assault.
Typically, an assault charge carries either felony or misdemeanor punishments and penalties. Sparks Law Firm has insight on what makes an assault a felony in Texas. However, it depends on the circumstances of the charge.
If one is a victim of domestic violence or any type of assault, it's crucial to hire a skilled attorney. They will help to ensure that the victim's rights are always protected and that justice gets served to the at-fault party.
As with all crimes, there are varying levels of assault charges found in Texas. Therefore, it's crucial to understand the punishments and requirements for each. Let's learn more now:
Class C Misdemeanor Assault
An assault that doesn't cause physical harm/injury is called a Class C misdemeanor. They include actions like threatening physical harm and physically touching victims in ways that are provocative or offensive.
The highest penalty possible for a Class C misdemeanor is a $500 fine.
Class B Misdemeanor Assault
If one physically provokes or threatens a sports participant, regardless of competition level (amateur, collegiate, or professional), and they are a non-sports participant, they could be charged with a Class B misdemeanor. This includes everyone involved in the sport, such as staff members, administrators, instructors, coaches, umpires, referees, and athletes.
This Texas law was created to address specific crimes committed during sporting events or when a perpetrator attacks athletes in retaliation of their performance. It's often referred to as the "sports fan" clause and offers protection for athletes against spectators who might be angry or disappointed during a sporting event. It also includes gamblers who have lost money.
Being convicted of a Class B misdemeanor could see a maximum penalty of $2,000 in fines and six months in prison.
Class A Misdemeanor Assault
An assault leading to physical harm is called a Class A misdemeanor, at minimum. Suppose someone gets accused of verbally insulting or physically attacking a disabled individual or an elderly person. In that case, this is called a Class C assault, but the perpetrator also receives a Class A misdemeanor charge. This can result in fines of $4,000 and prison sentences of up to one year.
Third-degree Felony Assault
If one intentionally or knowingly causes physical harm to another, it's a Class A misdemeanor. However, if it's directed toward a specific type of party, it could become a felony charge (third-degree felony).
Physically harming a dating partner, family member, or roommate could easily escalate to a felony from a misdemeanor. Likewise, if the person has past convictions of assault for family members, people they dated, or others living in the household, regardless of the state in which it happened, they could face third-degree felony assault charges.
Aggravated Assault (Bodily Injury) vs. Simple Assault
Most of the cases talked about already are simple assaults. In these situations, simple assault requires the reckless, knowing, or intentional harm of another person by threatening them, using offensive physical contact, and more. Sexual assault is one of these and does not always include bodily injury.
Simple assault charges are generally lighter than aggravated assault charges.
On the other hand, aggravated assault involves similar actions. However, the primary difference here is that those actions cause serious bodily harm or involve using or displaying a deadly weapon. Aggravated assault will always be a second-degree felony, at least. Many times, the degree is determined by the victim and their bodily injury issues and other factors.
First-degree Felony Assault
A first-degree felony is the highest level of felony assault and has the highest severity in Texas. An aggravated assault charge could be a first-degree felony if it's committed against household residents, dating partners, or family members. However, bodily harm must be involved. Likewise, this holds true if the accused person has a history of such convictions.
Second-degree Felony Assault
Most aggravated assault charges are considered second-degree felonies. The second-degree felony here will cover Class C misdemeanors involving the use of a deadly weapon or physical contact.
One could get a maximum punishment in the form of a $10,000 fine and two to 20 years in prison.
What Happens After Filing Assault Charges Against Someone in Texas?
After being arrested for assault in Texas, it's crucial to fully understand the legal process. This will prepare the accused for each step of the journey, which might help achieve a positive outcome.
Initially, the accused person is arrested and processed at the local jail after the assault charge. They are allowed to have an attorney present.
Going to Court
Within 48 hours of being arrested, the accused appears before a judge or magistrate who reads the charges and informs the defendant of their rights to remain silent and have an attorney present. It's crucial to work with an experienced assault law firm. Now, the judge will set bail or order a release without bail. Someone also sets the next court appearance date.
Interim Moments Between Trial Dates and Arrest
If the accused is granted bail, they will post bond and live normally until the trial date. However, the judge could deny bail, in which the accused will have to await the trial in jail.
The arraignment is the first court appearance once charges get filed. Those charges are reread, and the accused can enter a guilty/not guilty plea. Their attorney might ask for a continuance at this point or negotiate for a plea deal.
Trial and Sentencing
During the trial, each side will present their case for and against. Sometimes, there is no trial if a plea deal can be made.
After going to trial, the jury will enter a guilty/not guilty verdict based on the evidence. The judge will then determine the penalty involved.
When planning to fight assault charges, it's crucial to know the options for a criminal defense. Here are a few to consider:
Self-Defense - If the accused was put in a position where they had to assault another to protect themselves from an injury, they can use this defense. However, it's difficult to prove.
No Injury - If the altercation happened, but no one was injured, this could be a great defense because the accused wouldn't be arrested.
No Criminal Intent - If the injury was an accident, the accused could use this defense. They didn't mean to cause pain.
Victim Doesn't Want to Press Charges - This often happens for many reasons. Most of the time, a victim isn't required to press charges or go through with the prosecution. However, it could be taken out of their hands.
Can a Person Drop Assault Charges in Texas?
Under Texas law, a witness or victim of an assault charge can drop them. However, the court could choose to prosecute, even if the victim doesn't wish to pursue the case. The decision is often made by the attorney general or district attorney.
Get Legal Assistance from Sparks Law Firm
Filing assault charges isn't easy, but it's crucial to do so. Victims deserve justice, whether they dealt with domestic violence or something else. Everyone must understand their rights and know when to pursue legal action.
Those being accused of domestic violence or any other assault charge should get help from a criminal defense lawyer like the ones at Sparks Law Firm. They have rights and are innocent until proven guilty. However, they must do all they can to show that they did nothing wrong, and it's hard to know how to do this alone.
After being hit with an assault charge, it's wise to call Sparks Law Firm at (817) 381-7846. Alternatively, one can use the contact form to request a consultation.