If an assault accusation against you becomes a criminal charge, the severity of the charge and the potential outcomes are not necessarily straightforward. The Texas statutes go into great detail about how the court system should address assault charges.
Investigation of the details and assessment of the alleged evidence can help narrow down what the charge may be and how you may be able to combat it in court.
Who is making the claim
A basic assault charge is a Class A misdemeanor. However, there is a list of exceptions in the statute. The charge may be a third-degree felony if the person accusing you is on the list:
- Public servant on duty
- Peace officer on duty
- Security officer on duty
- Emergency services personnel on duty
- Romantic partner or family member (if this is a second offense or the accusation involves strangling)
Other characteristics of the alleged victim could bump the charge up to second- or even first-degree felony, such as retaliation against a public official or judge, or violence against an elderly or disabled person.
How serious the harm is
Assault becomes an aggravated charge and a second-degree felony with more serious consequences if the injury is serious or if you either used or had a deadly weapon visible during the assault. If the person is on the exceptions list, and then it is bumped up to a first-degree felony.
When the assault occurred
Statutes of limitations apply. Someone from your past cannot show up 15 years later and accuse you of assault. If the assault charge is a felony, then the statute of limitations is likely to be three years since the date of the alleged assault, but if it is a misdemeanor, it may be two years.
How much evidence there is
The prosecutor has a high burden of proof in the case. He or she must convince the judge or jury that you are guilty beyond reasonable doubt, which means the evidence is 100% convincing.
The evidence must show that you caused bodily harm to someone on purpose, that you knew you were causing bodily harm at the time, or that you acted recklessly and caused the harm.
Even if the prosecutor has evidence of the bodily injury, your defense could involve arguing a lack of intent, a lack of knowledge of a person’s status or profession, or some other detail based on the statutes.