Aside from DWI and perhaps drug possession, assault is probably the most commonly-charged criminal offense in Tarrant County. Assault is a crime of moral turpitude, so in addition to its substantial direct consequences, like high fines and lengthy jail time, it has some substantial indirect consequences, including possible immigration effects.
Assault cases are also difficult to prove in court. Generally, DWIs and drug possession charges hinge on police officer testimony. These witnesses have a vested interest in cooperation (they usually face departmental discipline if they do not testify in court) and they are, in effect, expert witnesses who have testified on hundreds of occasions. Alleged assault victims, on the other hand, often have no vested interest in cooperating and have no experience as witnesses.
Assault By Contact is the Texas version of common-law battery. ABC, which is usually a Class C misdemeanor, is a harmful or offensive touch. Prosecutors must also establish criminal intent, but not the intent to injure. Instead, prosecutors must only establish that the touch was not accidental.
Fort Worth criminal defense attorneys often convince prosecutors to reduce charges from ABI, which is examined below, to ABC, if the evidence is weak. ABC carries no potential jail time, so the court cannot even place the defendant on probation. However, the court can fine the defendant up to $500.
Assault with Bodily Injury is a Class A misdemeanor. Nearly all criminal assaults are ABI cases. These incidents have significantly worse consequences than ABC, A Class A misdemeanor could mean up to a year in jail. That could also mean lengthy court supervision with a number of conditions, such as attending anger management classes or performing community services. ABI often has significant indirect consequences as well, especially in family court.
Contrary to popular myth, alleged victims do not have the right to “drop” the charges. In fact, Texas law allows prosecutors to subpoena alleged victims and force them to testify against their will. This does not happen very often, but it does happen.
There are basically two types of aggravated assault in Texas. Prosecutors often upgrade ABI charges to aggravated assault if the defendant uses a deadly weapon. Pretty much any solid object, even a house key or a smartphone, could be a deadly weapon under the right facts. Moreover, if the injury is severe enough to put someone in the hospital, aggravated assault charges may be appropriate.
In addition to the aforementioned proof problems, there may be issues with the mental state in aggravated assault prosecutions. Many of these incidents are specific intent crimes. The defendant must intend both the conduct (assault) and the result (serious injury). Intoxicated defendants cannot form the mental state necessary to commit specific intent crimes. That’s why DWI-collisions which involve deaths or serious injuries are brought under different laws.
Any kind of assault is a serious offense. For a free consultation with an experienced criminal defense attorney in Fort Worth, contact Herreth Law. Convenient payment plans are available.