The District Attorney’s Office in Tarrant County vigorously prosecutes assault cases. If an assault was the reason for your arrest, you need to consult with a criminal defense lawyer with real trial experience and vast knowledge of the Texas Penal Code. I have dedicated my career to Texas criminal law, trying countless misdemeanor and felony cases before judges and juries. Before opening my boutique criminal defense law firm, I worked as a prosecutor in Tarrant and Collin Counties for the District Attorney’s Office. My previous experience as a prosecutor enables me to think critically and holistically about each client’s case. I will do my best to evaluate the facts and evidence, poke holes in the prosecution’s case, zealously advocate for your rights, and present a creative yet strong defense theory.
In addition to my efforts on your assault case, you will have the experience and knowledge of our criminal defense team. At the Fulgham Law Firm, we have a team of 5 Former Prosecutors that work together as a team to evaluate cases and make certain that every assault case is thoroughly reviewed and defenses are established to provide our clients the best opportunity to have their assault case dismissed and expunged from their criminal record.
While criminal assault cases may come in many formats in Tarrant County, any criminal conviction can have dire and lasting consequences for your future. Not only could you face lengthy prison time, fines, and probation, but you may suffer difficulty in finding and maintaining employment and even renting an apartment. Our team of criminal defense attorneys can assist you with understanding the nature of the assault charges, deciding how to best proceed with your case, and diligently and doggedly pursuing justice on your behalf. I provide free consultations to residents of Fort Worth, Arlington, Tarrant County, and other surrounding cities. To schedule an appointment with the Fulgham Law Firm, please call me today at (817) 886-3078.
WHAT IS ASSAULT?
Assault is a blanket term used by the Texas legislature that can involve either traditional battery or assault. The Texas Penal Code § 22.01 defines assault as:
Intentionally, knowingly, or recklessly causing bodily injury to another; Intentionally or knowingly threatening another with imminent bodily injury; or intentionally or knowingly causing an unconsented, offensive, or provocative contact with another.
Assault can involve a stranger, a friend, a family member, or a romantic partner. Domestic violence acts of intoxication and road rage are examples of conduct that can constitute assault. While assault generally refers to misdemeanor assault, it can take many other forms depending on the exact circumstances, including:
What is Bodily Injury?
Bodily injury in Texas is defined as experiencing “physical pain.” Many people believe that you must have proof of bruising, rashes or medical records showing injuries to prove the assault element of “bodily injury.” This is not the case. All the detective needs to establish probable cause is for the alleged victim to claim that the contact between the parties caused them to suffer “pain.” In practice, the lack of physical evidence establishing proof of injury makes the case much weaker for the prosecutor but you must realize that physical evidence is not required. Amazingly, it only requires the police officer or detective to believe the word of the alleged victim.
What is the Threat of Injury?
A “threat of injury” can be used to create the crime of assault by threat. The most common example of this is Aggravated Assault – Deadly Weapon by threat. Assault by threat is a criminal act committed against an individual who had the reasonable belief that you would cause them physical harm. This “physical harm” must constitute a fear of serious bodily injury or death. That’s right; you don’t need to make physical contact with anyone for it to be considered an assault in Texas. However, it’s not the threat alone that’s considered assault.
For example, if you had a verbal argument with someone and became heated and you had a gun near you and the individual believed that your touching the gun or grabbing the gun placed them in fear of imminent serious bodily injury or death, you could be charged with aggravated assault deadly weapon by threat.
It’s not necessarily the threatening words or actions which make a threat of injury an assault. Instead, the imminent danger, or likelihood that someone will follow through on their threat, is what makes a danger of injury offense an assault.
Is Offensive Contact Considered Assault In Texas?
Very broadly speaking, an offensive contact assault is when someone intentionally or knowingly touches another person without their consent and that touching was “offensive.” The touch may be fleeting (a shove) or prolonged (grabbing someone’s arm). Generally, the severity of the touching will dictate whether it is considered offensive or assaultive.
Regardless of how serious you feel an offensive contact was, facing felony or misdemeanor assault charges in Fort Worth is incredibly serious. Call our Criminal Defense Lawyers at the Fulgham Law Firm today for a consultation. We have an office in Fort Worth to address your legal concerns and can work around your schedule.
PENALTIES FOR ASSAULT
Assault can be a misdemeanor or felony depending on the exact circumstances surrounding the assault and the relationship between the individual and victim.
- Class A Misdemeanor: Assault without any aggravating circumstances. Penalty: Up to 1 year in jail, up to $4,000 in fines, or both.
- Class B Misdemeanor: Assault against a sports participant. Penalty: Up to 180 days in jail, up to $2,000 in fines, or both.
- Class C Misdemeanor: Threats of imminent bodily injury and offensive or provocative contact. Penalty: Up to $500 in fines.
- First Degree Felony: Aggravated sexual assault, drive-by shootings, and aggravated assault with a weapon. Penalty: Anywhere from five years to life in state prison, as well as up to $10,000 in fines.
- Second Degree Felony: Aggravated assault, reckless child abuse, tampering with products, and sexual assault. Penalty: Anywhere from two to 20 years in state prison, as well as up to $10,000 in fines.
- Third Degree Felony: Child abandonment, discharging a firearm, terroristic threats, harassment of public servants, repeated domestic violence or domestic assault involving choking, and assault against a police officer. Penalty: Anywhere from two to 10 years in state prison, as well as up to $10,000 in fines.
COMMON ASSAULT DEFENSES IN FORT WORTH, ARLINGTON, AND TARRANT COUNTIES
It can seem like the end of the world when receiving a charge for assault in Fort Worth, Arlington, or Tarrant County. You’ve heard stories about what happens to people who go to trial and how long they might have to spend behind bars. But before you give up hope in your future, one crucial thing needs to be said: It doesn’t have to be this way!
There are many common defenses for assault charges that can get you off the hook—and keep you out of jail. So, if your attorney isn’t telling you about these defenses for assault charges in Fort Worth, then call the Fulgham Law Firm today at (817) 886-3078. We will fight for your constitutional rights and get you the best possible outcome.
In some cases, assault charges can be reduced from a felony to a misdemeanor offense, even if the alleged victim suffered a severe injury. For this reason, it’s essential to build a defense immediately so you can avoid the lasting repercussions of an assault conviction. Here are some of the most common defenses defendants make in Texas:
The Other Party Provided Consent
Consent is the act of agreeing to do something. When you give someone consent to use or take something, for example, your car or your body, they have permission, and it’s not considered assault. Say a man wants to spar with another man, and they engage in a boxing match. If one of them faces an injury consequently, that does not constitute assault because both parties provided consent.
Alternatively, if you say “no” when someone tries to take something from you, like your car keys off the table, that person may become physically aggressive with you to get what they want. A jury would consider this example assault because they are taking what belongs to you and injuring you in the process without permission. It’s the same thing if someone touches your body sexually when it has been made abundantly clear that this is not wanted. Both examples are times where there is no consent, and therefore they qualify as assault.
You Were Acting in Self-Defense
An assault is any act that causes physical pain, an act that causes someone to be “offended,” or an act that places another person in fear of serious bodily injury or death. Causing someone to feel threatened could result from physical contact without consent or even just words that are threatening enough to frighten someone. Self-defense means using reasonable force to protect oneself from the assault or immediate threat of harm.
Self-defense law may apply if you were attacked and defended yourself. You have a right to use force that is necessary to stop the attacker. If you used more force than necessary during your defense, it would become a crime of assault instead of simple self-defense. If you did act in self-defense, the law states that the prosecutor will have the burden to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that you did NOT act in self-defense. This is a difficult burden for the State of Texas to prove when the facts are supportive of your criminal defense.
As you can tell, several factors make self-defense claims unique. Therefore, you should always use legal assistance from an experienced Fort Worth assault defense attorney, even in cases of self-defense. Otherwise, you might end up serving time for a crime that someone else committed against you.
You Were Defending Someone Else
Sometimes, individuals become involved in an assault while trying to protect someone during an assault. Whether this is considered the legal defense of others or justifiable depends on the circumstances of your case.
Take an example where a friend asks you to go into a dark alley with him to meet his drug dealer to purchase some weed. While in this secluded location, the dealer demands more money from your friend and pulls out a knife when your friend refuses to pay up.
In this case, it is not considered self-defense because you knew there was a substantial risk that something wrong could happen when venturing into this dark alley with your friend.
If, on the other hand, you see someone attacking one of your friends while at school or in public and intervene for protection reasons, you may be able to claim the defense of others since you were in a public place and not associated with the person who was attacked.
Justifiable self-defense is an act that is legally allowed or justified. For instance, justifiable self-defense occurs when someone is protecting themselves or another individual. The Fort Worth criminal defense lawyers at the Fulgham Law Firm can help determine whether your case falls under this definition of justifiable and how best to defend against your charges.
I HAVE AN ASSAULT CHARGE. WHAT SHOULD I DO NOW?
As you can tell, several situations make assault cases complex legal matters. The best advice for an individual with an assault charge is to not speak to law enforcement and instead work with an experienced assault defense attorney.
SEEK THE ADVICE OF A FORMER TARRANT COUNTY PROSECUTOR TODAY
Get inside the prosecutor’s mind with a zealous Tarrant County criminal defense attorney who understands how the prosecution thinks and can anticipate the District Attorney’s Office’s evidence and arguments. Call me at the Fulgham Law Firm now at (817) 877-3030 to schedule a free consultation on your assault charges.
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