Assault with Serious Bodily Injury Charges
Have you been charged with assault with serious bodily injury in Fort Worth, Texas or in the surrounding cities of Tarrant County, Texas? Assault causing serious bodily injury is typically classified as either a first-degree felony or second-degree felony in Texas, with some of the most severe punishments if you are convicted.
There are many circumstances in which someone can be wrongfully accused of assault with serious bodily injury. For example, someone could be in a pub when a fight breaks out, and strike another person that he perceives is attacking him, thereby striking back in self-defense or to defend someone else. Another example could be a homeowner feeling threatened when they see a suspicious person is on their property and that suspicion person makes an over threat with action that places the homeowner in fear of serious bodily injury or death for themselves or their family members. It is legal to act to defend yourself or your family from intruders.
Most cases of assault are considered misdemeanor assault if the alleged victim sustains minor to moderate injuries or if there is no visible injury but the alleged victim claims to feel pain from the contact. However, if you are accused of breaking someone’ nose, leaving permanent scarring on the face of your victim or the victim falls and strikes their head on a cement floor causing permanent brain damage, the charges will most likely be filed as assault with serious bodily injury under Texas criminal law.
Assault charges with serious bodily injury do not have to imply that you had a weapon. If the defendant is also accused of using a “deadly weapon” as classified by Texas Penal Code, the charges will be filed as aggravated assault with serious bodily injury or with a deadly weapon.
Examples of a deadly weapon in Texas include a broken beer bottle, a closed fist with brass knuckles, a firearm or gun, explosives, and some knives. In fact, Texas assault law states that practically anything can be a deadly weapon if it’s intended use was to cause serious bodily injury or death. For example, a pencil or a pen can be a deadly weapon if its intended use was to inflict serious bodily injury or death.
Generally, if one of these types of weapons was involved but the person is charged with simple assault with bodily injury instead of aggravated, it could mean the prosecutor did not feel they had had enough evidence to file the greater charge.
How Do I Know What Specific Type of Assault with Injury Charge I Am Facing?
Look up your case on the Tarrant County docket search page. Under the offense column you will see the abbreviation of the charges listed out. You might see some of the following types of assault with injury charges:
- AGG ASSAULT CAUSES SBI: Means aggravated assault causing serious bodily injury
- AGG ASSAULT CAUSES SERIOUS BODILY INJURY: Means aggravated assault with serious bodily injury
- ASSAULT CAUSES SERIOUS BODILY INJURY: Abbreviation of assault causing serious bodily injury
- ASSAULT CAUSES SERIOUS INJURY: Means assault with serious bodily injury
- ASSAULT CAUSES BODILY INJ: Abbreviation for assault with bodily injury
How Does Texas Law Defines Serious Bodily Injury?
Under Texas criminal law, bodily injury is defined as contact that results in the victim experiencing “pain.” What does that mean? As defined, it is very subjective. It’s easy to show that “pain” took place if the alleged victim shows proof of bruising or hand marks or redness caused by a slap, punch or even when someone’s hair is pulled.
However, it is a different story when you are talking about someone who has no visible marks or injuries, yet claims to have suffered “pain.” With no extrinsic evidence of proof of injury, the State of Texas will have to rely solely upon the alleged victim’s word to prove the case – a much more difficult task.
Remember, you are not required to prove anything in Texas criminal courts! Under Texas criminal law, the burden to prove every element of the crime of assault is upon the prosecutor and they must prove every element beyond a reasonable doubt. Failure to prove the allegations beyond a reasonable doubt will result in a not guilty verdict at a jury trial.
However, serious bodily injury means the injury increases the risk of death, causes death, results in permanent disfigurement or causes the loss of impairment of any bodily function.
Permanent disfigurement may be caused by mutilation resulting in permanent, visible scars, the loss of a limb or digit. Injuries resulting in permanent disabilities such as brain injuries, cognitive impairment, inability to walk, loss of eyesight, and loss of hearing also qualify as serious bodily injuries according to Texas Penal Code.
Enhanced or Reduced Charges Possible with Assault with Serious Bodily Injury
When you’re facing charges like assault with serious bodily injury, it may be possible for your criminal lawyer to have the charges dropped to simple assault. For example, if the prosecutor is unable to prove the required element of “serious bodily injury,” your experienced and aggressive criminal defense attorney could go in and convince the prosecutor to drop the charges from a felony to a lesser misdemeanor assault charge that would eliminate the possibility of jail time and help ensure you can get the assault arrest and charges removed from your criminal record.
In fact, if you are facing a felony assault charge in Fort Worth, Texas or the surrounding cities in Tarrant County, Texas, your Fort Worth assault lawyer may be able to gather evidence favorable to your case and make a presentation to a grand jury. A grand jury is a filtering process provided for under the Texas Constitution that requires every felony in Texas to be indicted, or filtered, to determine if the case should be a felony. Your criminal defense attorney can prepare a packet of evidence and present it persuasively for the grand jury to potentially lower the felony assault to a lesser misdemeanor assault charge or the grand jury could decide to no bill your assault charge – the equivalent of a dismissal of all charges! This result will allow you to be eligible to have your arrest and charges expunged from your criminal record.
While this would be a favorable turn of events, it is important to realize that the tables could turn the other way as well. In some cases, a skilled criminal defense lawyer for assault with serious injury charges could even have the case dismissed or charges dropped to a lesser misdemeanor assault case.
An experienced criminal defense team is essential if facing assault charges because if the alleged victim dies while you are pending trial as a defendant, the prosecutor could enhance the crime and file murder or capital murder charges. A conviction for capital murder has much more serious punishment ramifications than assault with serious bodily injury, and could possibly result in life in prison or the death penalty as allowed by Texas criminal law.
Possible Defenses for Assault with Serious Injury Charges
Just because you are charged with assault causing bodily injury does not mean you are guilty, or that you deserve the harsh punishments imposed on people convicted of these charges in Texas. Extenuating circumstances surrounding the alleged assault can pave the way for a multitude of possible defenses. Some examples of these circumstances include:
- Self-defense –the Texas Penal Code § 9.31 Self-Defense, specifically allows for self-defense. If you are concerned about the possibility of bodily harm to yourself, family member or others in your company at the time of the assault, you have the right to defend yourself. The force used by you in defending yourself must be proportionate to the threat you are facing from the attacker. However, self-defense is known as an affirmative defense. This means that Texas criminal law requires you to admit to the assault taking place but that you had a justifiable reason for the assault – to defend yourself. In this situation, the burden of proof will shift to the prosecutor to prove that your actions did not constitute self-defense and this burden must be proven beyond a reasonable doubt. If you sustained injuries or the alleged victim had a weapon displayed or used at the time of the incident, you may have a strong case of self-defense at a jury trial.
- No Criminal Intent – the prosecutor is required to prove not only that the alleged victim suffered injury or serious bodily injury, but that you acted intentionally, knowingly or recklessly in a manner that CAUSED the result. In other words, if the injury was an accident, there is no criminal case. The prosecutor must prove that acted more than negligently in order to sustain a criminal charge of felony assault. Otherwise, every car accident where someone was seriously injured could be filed as a felony assault charge. It is important for your criminal attorney to gather all evidence establishing the incident was an accident or mistake and that you had no criminal intent for the alleged victim to be injured.
- Intoxication – those who deliberately drink and get into an altercation that results in serious bodily injury cannot use intoxication as a defense. However, if you were having a beer in a local pub and someone spiked your drink with a drug causing you to lose control, this can be used as a valid defense. Texas Penal Code 8.04 Intoxicationstates that temporary mental insanity caused by alcohol intake (even voluntary) may be used as a defense for certain criminal charges.
- Duress or coercion– according to Texas Penal Code § 8.05 Duress, if you were being threatened by a third-party and were forced to act in a manner that would be otherwise unusual for you; or you were threatened with injury or harm if you failed to carry out an assault, this may also be a valid defense.
Your assault with serious bodily injury lawyer will need to know your state of mind, what led up to the assault and whether or not you have any prior record of assault. These are important factors that will help an attorney determine how to best build a defense on your behalf.
What are the Penalties for Assault with Serious Bodily Injury in Texas?
Under Texas laws, assault with serious bodily injury is usually considered a felony in the first degree. Under some circumstances, may be reduced to a second-degree felony. However, the possible punishments for either a 2nd or 3rd degree felony conviction are both devastating and include: lifetime jail sentences, paying restitution to the victim, paying hefty fines to the government, long-term probation and supervision and more. Your criminal lawyer must take the time to hear your side of what occurred during the incident and dive deeply into the facts and evidence gathered in the case to defend you effectively.
1st Degree Felony Conviction for Assault with Serious Bodily Injury – A guilty verdict for a first degree felony in Texas is at least five years in prison, and your sentence could be as long as 99 years. This is in addition to fines of up to $10,000 and possibly the requirement of paying restitution to the victim.
2nd Degree Felony Aggravated Assault with Serious Bodily Injury – A second-degree felony conviction could mean a minimum of two years in jail and a maximum sentence of 20 years with the same fines and restitution.
A felony conviction will impact you for a lifetime impacting your ability temporarily to own a firearm and vote. However, you may also face a lifetime of challenges finding employment and housing. In addition, you become ineligible for certain programs including public benefits and student loans. Never take these risks with your future.
Call a Defense Attorney for Assault with Bodily Injury Charges
If you’re facing these charges call a defense lawyer for assault with serious bodily injury cases and do not speak with law enforcement or investigators until your defense counsel is present.
Remember, the prosecutor’s office is only interested in building a case against you even if you insist that you are innocent. The more you say to law enforcement officers before speaking with an attorney, the more likely they are to turn your words against you in criminal proceedings.
You should always exercise your right to remain silent after you’re arrested and this is even more important if you’re facing felony assault with serious bodily injury charges.
Call 817-435-2909 now to schedule a free case evaluation with the Hampton Law Firm. Our team of defense attorneys know how to fight serious assault charges and have brought hundreds of cases to trial.