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The Link Between Hot Weather and Violent Assaults

Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for 920x920 (1).jpgA classic 1984 study confirmed what most of us already at least suspected: When outside temperatures rise, more people get violently angry.

In this particular study, one researcher intentionally sat through a green light at a Phoenix intersection. Other researchers looked on and measured driver responses. "Results indicated a direct linear increase in horn honking with increasing temperature. Stronger results were obtained by examining only those subjects who had their windows rolled down (and presumably did not have air conditioners operating)," they concluded. Numerous other studies confirm this finding.

Researchers say the reason for the link is simple. Hot weather makes people cranky. So, minor inconveniences seem like major insults which justify, or even demand, a violent response.

Winter, spring, summer, and fall, there are four types of assault in Texas, as outlined below.

Class C Assault

This offense is also known as Assault By Contact (ABC). Prosecutors normally bring Class C assault charges if there was no physical contact, because ABC is basically common-law assault. At common law, a credible threat of violence, like swinging at someone and missing, is an assault.

Frequently, a Weatherford criminal defense attorney can get one of the more serious assault charges reduced to ABC. Since ABC is a Class C misdemeanor, there is no potential jail time. Put another way, this offense is basically a traffic ticket.

Class B Assault

This offense is on the books, but it is not used very often. If a non-participant threatens a player, league official, umpire, or other sports participant, the defendant could be charged with Class B assault (maximum six months in jail). Class B assault is the "angry fan" assault. This law protects participants from fans who are upset over a call in the game or the athlete's performance.

This statute does not apply to things like rude and obnoxious comments. There must be a personal, credible threat of imminent violence. If the evidence is weak, and it often is, prosecutors often reduce these charges to Class C disorderly conduct.

Class A Assault

The most common type of assault in Texas carries a maximum one year in jail. Since assault is a crime or moral turpitude, this offense also has some significant collateral consequences.

Normally, prosecutors cannot convict assault defendants unless the complaining witness testifies. There may be a way to introduce part of the police report into evidence, but a defense attorney can usually block those efforts.

Third-Degree Felony Assault

In many jurisdictions, aggravated assault is assault with a dangerous or deadly weapon, or assault that causes serious bodily injury. But in Texas, third-degree felony assault is a status crime. Prosecutors elevate misdemeanor charges to felonies if the alleged victim was a government official, like a police officer. Additionally, if the alleged victim was a family member, prosecutors usually add an FV (Family Violence) designation. This designation also increases collateral consequences, particularly in family court. Finally, if the defendant has a prior assault conviction, prosecutors usually enhance the current charges.

The same defenses discussed above apply to third-degree felony assault, which could mean up to ten years in prison.

When it gets out outside, many people get hot under the collar as well. For a free consultation with an experienced personal injury attorney in Weatherford, contact Herreth Law. Convenient payment plans are available.

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