As the weather heats up outside, the number of assaults usually goes up as well. Generally, hot temperatures increase violent crimes. Curiously, hot weather has almost no effect on theft and other property crimes.
Under Texas law, assault covers the common-law crimes of both assault (threatening someone) and battery (hitting someone). Assault is a crime of moral turpitude which often has a long-lasting effect on a person's life, especially with regard to immigration issues. So, Weatherford criminal defense attorneys try to lower the degree of assault whenever possible. The lower the degree, the easier a record is to seal or expunge later.
Assault By Contact is a Class C misdemeanor in Texas. These offenses carry no potential jail time, so there is no possibility of probation. If they plead guilty or no contest, most defendants must pay a fine, but that's about it.
ABC is a non-injury assault. Many times, two people exchange angry words but they do not throw punches. Other times, there is contact, but the contact produces no injury. Cases like these are difficult to prove beyond a reasonable doubt. Threat-only cases often devolve into a "he said, she said" situation, and without a lingering injury, it's hard to prove the contact was intentional.
These things make ABC both a stand-alone offense and a fallback for ordinary assault cases where there is a problem with the evidence.
This offense is usually a Class A misdemeanor. A conviction could mean up to a year in jail. Additionally, if the alleged victim was a family member, prosecutors generally charge the defendant with family violence assault. That FV designation often creates issues in family court and may even lead to additional child endangerment charges.
Lack of evidence is usually one of the best defenses to assault prosecutions. Contrary to popular myth, FV victims cannot "drop" the charges in criminal court. The state always has a right to pursue the matter, and if necessary, the state can subpoena alleged victims and force them to testify.
However, prosecutors like to avoid these situations whenever possible. So, if the alleged victim is reluctant to testify, an ABC plea, or perhaps a plea to assault without the FV designation, may be appropriate.
Assault is a felony if the defendant either causes serious bodily injury or uses or exhibits a deadly weapon during the assault.
"Serious bodily injury" usually means putting someone in the hospital. If the alleged victim goes to the ER and is examined but not admitted, that may not be aggravated assault under Texas Penal Code 22.02. Furthermore, the enhanced threat must be readily apparent and credible. A bulge in a pocket is not sufficient. A prior history of carrying weapons is probably not sufficient either.
Prosecutors will probably not reduce aggravated assault charges all the way down to ABC, but a simple assault plea is usually possible in these situations.
The level of assault conviction depends on the evidence in the case. For a free consultation with an experienced criminal defense attorney in Weatherford, contact Herreth Law. Home and jail visits are available.