Harris County Aggravated Assault Defense
Aggravated assault or assault with a deadly weapon is a serious felony offense in Houston. A conviction for aggravated assault can result in severe penalties, including lengthy prison time and a large fine. Such a conviction can also adversely impact your future, such as by losing many educational, employment, housing and public assistance opportunities. A conviction for such a crime of violence will also prevent you from ever owning or possessing a firearm.
It is important to hire an experienced Houston criminal defense lawyer because criminal charges for aggravated assault do not have to result in a conviction and the resulting lifelong consequences. In order to convict you, the state prosecutor must prove to a jury that you committed every element of the felony offense beyond a reasonable doubt. With an experienced trial lawyer defending you, this is a very difficult burden to meet, and any reasonable doubt in the mind of any of the members of the jury can result in a not guilty verdict or a hung jury. Therefore, it is vital to contact an experienced criminal attorney in Houston who will fight for you.
If you have been charged with the criminal offense of aggravated assault in Harris County (Houston) or Fort Bend County (Richmond), call James G. Sullivan and Associates at 281-546-6428 for a free phone consultation. Sullivan is an experienced trial lawyer who will fight for your rights, freedom and future.
Aggravated Assault in Houston
According to section 22.02 of the Texas Penal Code, an individual can be charged with aggravated assault if they cause serious bodily injury to another or use or exhibit a deadly weapon during the commission of an assault offense.
According to section 22.01 of the Texas Penal Code, an individual can commit assault in Texas if they intentionally or knowingly cause or threaten to cause bodily injury to another person, or cause offensive physical contact to another person.
What is Bodily Injury and Serious Bodily Injury in Texas?
According to section 1.07(a)(8) of the Texas Penal Code, “bodily injury” means physical pain, illness, or any impairment of physical condition.
According to section 1.07(a)(46) of the Texas Penal Code, “serious bodily injury” means 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.
What is a Deadly Weapon in Texas?
According to case law, three things can qualify as deadly weapon:
- anything manifestly designed, made, or adapted for the purpose of inflicting death or serious bodily injury; or
- anything else that in the manner of its use or intended use is capable of causing death or serious bodily injury.
Examples of Deadly Weapons
There are not many deadly weapons listed as such per se. According to Section 46.01 of the Texas Penal Code, deadly weapons commonly used during the commission of aggravated assault offenses can include any of the following:
- Explosive weapons,
- Illegal Knife (such as a knife with a blade over five and one-half inches; a hand instrument designed to cut or stab another by being thrown; a dagger, including but not limited to a dirk, stiletto, and poniard; bowie knife; sword; or spear.)
- Machine gun,
- Short-barrel firearm,
- Switchblade knife
- Chemical dispensing device, and
- Zip gun.
Deadly by Manner and Means of Use
Furthermore, according to case law, there is an extensive list of things that can be proven to be deadly by the way the accused used them during the commission of the aggravated assault offense, including:
- Coke bottle
- Leg of a bar stool
- Ax handle
- Motor vehicle
- BB gun
- Wooden stick
- Dumpster in which a baby is discarded
Punishment for Aggravated Assault in Houston
Chapter 12 of the Texas Penal Code lists the felony punishment for aggravated assault in Houston.
Aggravated assault is usually charged as a second degree felony. A conviction for such a felony is punishable by a prison sentence ranging from two to 20 years and a fine up to $10,000.
However, aggravated assault can be charged as a first degree felony if the assault was committed against:
- a family member or significant other and causes that person serious bodily injury;
- a public servant while the public servant was discharging an official duty
- a security officer while the officer is performing a duty as a security officer; or
- in retaliation against a witness, prospective witness, informant, or person who has reported the occurrence of a crime.
A conviction for a first degree felony is punishable by a prison sentence ranging from five to 99 years or life in prison and a fine up to $10,000.
Criminal charges for aggravated assault can also result in a first degree felony conviction if the accused is:
- in a motor vehicle,
- knowingly discharges a firearm at or in the direction of a habitation, building or vehicle,
- is reckless as to whether the habitation, building or vehicle is occupied,
- and causes serious bodily injury to any person.
The punishment for this offense is also a prison sentence ranging from five to 99 years or life in prison and a fine up to $10,000.
Defenses to Aggravated Assault in Houston
Occasionally, and in certain circumstances, there may be legal defenses available to aggravated assault. It is important to discuss with an experienced Houston criminal defense attorney the elements of your criminal charges as that attorney can evaluate your case and advise you as to any appropriate defense.
- Self-Defense. According to Section 9.31 of the Texas Penal Code, a person is permitted to use force, and sometimes deadly force, against the immediate threat of injury or bodily harm.
- Lack of a Deadly Weapon. If your criminal defense attorney can show that a deadly weapon was not present, used or exhibited during the commission of the assault offense, the state prosecutor may reduce or dismiss the aggravated assault charges against you.
- Lack of Intent. Intent is a required culpable mental state to all assault offenses. If your criminal defense lawyer can demonstrate that you did not have the requisite intent to commit assault, the state prosecutor may reduce or dismiss the aggravated assault charges against you.
Grand Jury Defense for Aggravated Assault Charges
If you are accused of aggravated assault, you should contact an experienced criminal defense attorney right away because he may be able to win your case at the grand jury. Once your felony case has been indicted by the grand jury, this option is no longer available. Attorney James Sullivan has fought and won many felony cases at the grand jury level throughout his almost 20 years of legal practice, including over 20 felony cases in just the past few years. When a case is dismissed (no billed) by the grand jury, the accused has the immediate right to seek an expunction of the felony charge from their record. Sullivan has been able to do this for many of his clients accused of felony offenses.
James G. Sullivan and Associates | Harris County Aggravated Assault Attorney
James Sullivan attended the Trial Lawyers College founded by Legendary lawyer Gerry Spence. Sullivan has a proven record of defending people from all walks of life, faiths and countries in courts throughout Texas.
Our Houston criminal lawyers defend clients charged with crimes in district courts and county criminal courts, including domestic violence (assault of a family member), drug possession or drug delivery, violent crimes, and juvenile delinquency.