Misdemeanor assault, which is in Section 22 of the Texas Penal Code, is one of the most commonly-charged misdemeanors in Tarrant County. In most cases, assaults occur because arguments get a bit too heated. Assault is a Class A misdemeanor, so a conviction could mean up to a year in jail and a $3,000 fine.
Assault has significant collateral consequences as well. Since it is a crime of moral turpitude, an assault conviction could have immigration, job, and other consequences. Additionally, if the assault involved family violence, the effect in family court could be devastating, even many years later.
Because so much is at stake, a Fort Worth criminal defense attorney diligently looks for defenses in assault cases. There may be several options, based on the facts.
Self-defense is definitely the most common defense in these cases. Defense of property and defense of third persons are similar to self defense.
Basically, defendants are not guilty as a matter of law if they use a reasonable amount of force to resist an attack. Note that the force, and not the result, is what matters. Assume Ramon lunges at Juan, and Juan raises his arm to block Ramon. Even if Ramon was seriously injured, Juan's use of force was probably reasonable. Lifting an arm is a proportional response to an aggressive lunge.
Foreseeability, which is a personal injury term, also comes into play here. Assume Juan and Ramon argue, Ramon shoves Juan, and Juan tumbles down the stairs. Ramon's use of force may have been reasonable, although it is a close call.
Consent may be a defense as well. As mentioned, heated arguments often spark assaults. If that argument occurred at a sports event, a Fort Worth criminal defense attorney could argue that the alleged victim consented to the conduct. The consent defense is a bit like self-defense in this regard.
Lack of Evidence
The prosecutor must prove every element of the offense beyond a reasonable doubt. That's the highest standard of proof in Texas law. Therefore, lack of evidence may be one of the best defenses.
Physical injury is not a requirement in a simple assault case. However, non-injury cases are difficult to prove in court. If there is no injury, it's easier to defeat the mental state element.
Moreover, the victim's testimony is usually required. Sometimes, the prosecutor can use a legal loophole to admit the police report into evidence. But this trick rarely works.
The alleged victim does not have the power to "drop" the charges. However, if the victim does not want to pursue the case, or if the alleged victim relocates outside of the court's jurisdiction, it is almost impossible to successfully prosecute the matter. So, many attorneys delay assault proceedings as long as possible. In these situations, the alleged victim often loses interest in the case or moves away.
Serious assault charges have severe consequences. For a free consultation with an experienced criminal defense attorney in Fort Worth, contact Herreth Law. We routinely handle matters in Tarrant County and nearby jurisdictions.