Aggravated Assault with a Deadly Weapon
Have you been charged with aggravated assault or assault with a deadly weapon? If so, you need to call an experienced criminal defense lawyer for aggravated assault charges right away. There are varying degrees of assault charges people can face in Texas, but one of the most serious is aggravated assault with a deadly weapon.
Deadly weapons are defined specifically by Texas Penal Code, as any weapon or item in its intended use with the capability of causing serious bodily injury or death. A “Deadly Weapon” can include, but is not limited to handguns, knives, explosives, bombs, automobiles, and even a broken bottle or shank. If the item’s intended use were to cause serious bodily injury or death, it can be classified as a deadly weapon under Texas aggravated assault laws.
If you were arrested and accused of assaulting someone with a weapon, call an aggravated assault lawyer at the Hampton Law Firm today.
Call 817-435-2909 to schedule a free case evaluation with our experienced and aggressive team of criminal defense attorneys who have over 80 years of combined experience getting aggravated assault charges dismissed and bringing assault cases to trial.
How Does Texas Law Define Aggravated Assault with a Deadly Weapon?
Texas Penal Code §§ 22.02 covers aggravated assault charges, defining aggravated assault with a deadly weapon as intentionally, knowingly, or recklessly causing serious bodily harm to someone in an assault or using a deadly weapon during the commission of the alleged attack.
Although we fight for every client to get their aggravated assault with a deadly weapon charge dismissed, these statutes provide Texas criminal courts guidance on what types of punishment may be assessed in the event of a guilty verdict.
What Does the Prosecutor Need to Prove for an Aggravated Assault with a Deadly Weapon Conviction?
The first thing that must be proven beyond a reasonable doubt by the prosecution for a conviction to be possible on an aggravated assault with a deadly weapon charge is that you acted intentionally, knowingly, or recklessly in committing the alleged crime. The prosecutor must prove that your actions were intentional and that your specific intent was to commit aggravated assault. If there is any doubt, you should not be convicted.
The second element the prosecution must prove is that a deadly weapon was in your possession during some part of the confrontation and that it was used to cause fear of imminent serious bodily injury or death. This is a critical point to understand. Merely exhibiting a weapon is not sufficient to establish proof of a deadly weapon being used in the commission of a crime.
For example, if someone starts to threaten you and, in the process, they see that you are keeping a gun in a holster worn legally under your suit coat, they may claim that you “displayed” or “used” the weapon but merely possessing the weapon is not enough to prove that an incident involved a deadly weapon.
However, if someone pulls out a gun and couples the use of the gun with verbal threats of death or injury, this may be sufficient evidence to establish fear of imminent serious bodily injury or death.
The use of the deadly weapon must objectively cause the alleged victim to be in fear of imminent serious bodily injury or death. This “fear” must be measured objectively. Driving down the road seeing a gun sitting out in a car without a threat or other evidence is not objectively sufficient to establish fear of imminent serious bodily injury or death. The facts of each case must be analyzed thoroughly by your aggravated assault attorney to determine if this element of the crime can be proven.
The final factor that must be proven is that serious bodily injury occurred because of the alleged assault. Texas defines serious bodily injury as an act that can result in serious disfigurement, impairment, or disability. How is serious bodily injury proven by the prosecutor? Were pictures taken? Did the alleged victim go to the hospital? The best way for the prosecutor to prove serious bodily injury is to obtain medical records from a licensed medical doctor outlining a diagnosis or opinion that the alleged victim has sustained an injury that has created a permanent loss of use or protracted loss of use of a bodily member or organ. If there are medical records establishing the individual is permanently crippled, loss the use of hearing or vision or other organs, the element of serious bodily injury will hold up in court. However, sustaining a bloody nose or a broken bone or injury that time will allow to heal and have the same use of the body and organ as previously, this type of injury could be considered a bodily injury, not serious bodily injury.
Aggravated assault deadly weapon charges are serious charges, we strongly urge you to contact a felony aggravated assault with a deadly weapon defense lawyer who knows how to fight assault-related offenses and has a proven track record of obtaining favor results both in negotiations and trial.
What is the Punishment for an Assault with a Deadly Weapon Conviction in Texas?
In all cases, aggravated assault charges are charged as either a second or first-degree felony in Texas. This means that if convicted, you could be facing jail time of up to 99 years. Even in cases where the charges are reduced to a second-degree felony, you could be facing jail time of up to 20 years and fines of up to $10,000 if you receive a guilty verdict.
Aggravated assault deadly weapon charges are known as a “3G offense”. 3G offenses are extremely serious because of the nature of these crimes. Texas Code of Criminal Procedure in section 42.12. Subsection 3G puts limitations on what the courts may impose for minimum sentences.
The courts are required to force a party found guilty of a 3G offense to serve at least one-half of their sentence or 30 years, whichever is less. In rare circumstances, the jury may come back with a recommendation of 10 years or less which could result in a probation sentence; however, defendants should be aware this outcome is extremely rare. A knowledgeable criminal defense team will know how to initiate the process to negotiate a result to help maintain your freedom and your future.
Possible Defenses for Aggravated Assault & Assault with a Deadly Weapon
The laws governing the punishment for and classifying the degree of crime for assault charges in Texas are extraordinarily complex. However, the high degree of complexity in the penal code also means there are plenty of opportunities to exploit weaknesses in a prosecution’s case, thereby strengthening your case.
Some of the possible defenses against aggravated assault with a deadly weapon include:
- Force or weapon not deadly– your first defense is that you did not use sufficient force or a weapon capable of causing serious bodily injury. For example, if you struck someone with a plastic baseball bat you could say that the weapon was not capable of causing serious harm. In this situation, a plastic baseball bat or other harmless object would not objectively place someone in fear of serious bodily injury or death. Remember, the prosecutor must prove every element of the crime of aggravated assault deadly weapon beyond a reasonable doubt. The best aggravated assault deadly weapon attorneys look for every weakness in the case to establish reasonable doubt; thereby providing you more leverage to resolve your case.
- Self Defense or the Defense of Others– if you were acting in self-defense or defending another party, this is another viable way to have the charges reduced or dropped. Under Texas criminal law, you have the right to defend yourself, your property and persons in your home or your company. There must be proof that someone was in jeopardy of injury when you acted. If there are facts establishing that you acted in self-defense, you will be claiming an affirmative defense. An affirmative defense requires you to admit to the alleged conduct but that you had a justifiable reason under Texas criminal law. If your aggravated assault deadly weapon charge went to trial, establishing the defense of self-defense would require the State of Texas to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that your actions were NOT self-defense. This is an exceedingly difficult burden of proof for the prosecutor and may provide you a solid defense against conviction.
- Lack of intent – in all cases, prosecutors must prove you acted in a deliberate manner and with intent. If your actions were misinterpreted, you were coerced or fearful for your safety, you may have acted in a manner that was instinctive instead of deliberate. For example, if you had a weapon and you pointed the weapon, but your actions were not directed at the alleged victim and the alleged victim was not injured, the prosecutor may have a challenging time proving that you acted with criminal intent.
Building A Strong Defense
Your defense attorney will want to hear your account of the incident, and anything that happened leading up to the moment you were charged with aggravated assault with a deadly weapon. Your lawyer needs to hear every detail so that they do not miss an important bit of information that could lead to establishing your innocence.
For example, it is hard to defend against road rage charges; your car would be considered a deadly weapon. However, if the driver of another vehicle was trying to force you off the road, then it is possible they should be the ones facing charges and you would be considered a victim. Therefore, it is so important for you to seek immediate advice from an attorney after your arrest. The less you say to law enforcement after your arrest, the better off you may be overall. DO NOT answer questions from law enforcement without the guidance of an experienced criminal defense attorney.
Keep in mind aggravated assault charges are put before a grand jury to seek an indictment. One of the most effective tools that the best aggravated assault deadly weapon attorneys use is the presentation to the grand jury. The grand jury is a panel of citizens that hear evidence on every felony case filed in Texas. If your criminal attorney is experienced and knowledgeable, he or she will look to make a presentation of evidence favorable to your case to show the grand jury the real story regarding what happened. Without the efforts of a seasoned criminal lawyer, most grand juries will approve an aggravated assault deadly weapon case as a felony because of the seriousness of the charge. However, if there are favorable facts available in your case, your assault attorney may be able to convince the grand jury to lower the charge to a lesser misdemeanor assault case or No Bill the case. A no bill is a dismissal of the aggravated assault charges and allows you to be eligible for an expunction of all arrest and court records. Just because you have been arrested and are facing these charges does not automatically make you guilty.
Long-Term Consequences of a Violent Felony Conviction
It is important to remember, if you are found guilty of any felony charges in Texas, your problems after conviction do not end when you get out of jail. In all cases, you are going to be facing life-long repercussions including an inability to secure student loans, a temporary loss of your rights to carry a firearm and problems finding employment. However, when you are convicted of a violent crime you could also be restricted from visiting your children or seeking child custody. Do not take these kinds of risks with your freedom or your future.
Contact a Defense Lawyer for Aggravated Assault Charges
Regardless of the circumstances surrounding your arrest, if you are facing aggravated assault with a deadly weapon charge, you need a team of criminal attorneys who understand how to beat the prosecution. Experienced aggravated assault attorneys at The Hampton Law Firmer are ready to hear your case and start building your criminal defense. Our team of attorneys have over 80 years of criminal law experience and have handled hundreds of aggravated assault deadly weapon charges. Call the Hampton Law Firm now at 817-826-9905 to schedule a free and confidential case evaluation with Jeff Hampton, an experienced criminal defense lawyer.