Like many other offenses in the Texas Penal Code, Section 22 offenses have both direct and collateral consequences. Given the magnitude of these consequences, and the fact that Tarrant County prosecutors file so many of these cases, a solid approach is a must-have.
Because it is a violent offense which often involves substance use (bar fights and alcohol-fueled domestic assaults are rather common), assault probation conditions are usually quite restrictive. The indirect consequences are severe as well. Assault is a crime of moral turpitude which often has immigration consequences. Additionally, a domestic violence conviction could torpedo an ongoing or future family law matter, such as a child custody dispute.
In general, most criminal defense trial strategies involve a lack of evidence or an affirmative defense. Assault cases could involve either or both of these approaches.
Most misdemeanor prosecutions are straightforward, single-witness cases. But assault prosecutions have lots of moving parts. Typically, arresting officers cannot provide testimony about the assault, because they did not see it. So, the alleged victim must testify.
Attorneys can often undermine alleged victim testimony, because these people are not professional witnesses. That's assuming the alleged victim agrees to cooperate or is within the court's subpoena power range at the time of trial. Neither of those things are a given.
So, a Fort Worth criminal defense attorney can usually either wear down the prosecutor's case and create reasonable doubt or get the charges thrown out of court because there is no admissible evidence.
All three kinds of assault charges (ABC, or assault by contact, simple assault, and aggravated assault) may also involve the self-defense doctrine. Texas laws are very defendant-friendly in this area.
For example, the defendant generally does not have a duty to retreat, even if the defendant uses deadly force. And, in the Lone Star State, reasonable use of force is the key. Assume Paul is unarmed when he attacks Samir, who then uses a golf club to fend off Paul. In some states, Samir's use of force was unreasonable. But in some situations in Texas, Samir's use of force may have been reasonable.
Affirmative defenses are a bit tricky because defendants must admit that they assaulted the alleged victim, but their actions were legally justified.
Texas laws are also defendant-friendly in this area. Even if the defendant is convicted, that conviction may not go on the individual's permanent record.
Expungement is usually available, except in some aggravated assault cases. If the defendant was found not guilty at trial, prosecutors dropped the case due to lack of evidence, or an attorney obtained a similar result, both the law enforcement and judicial records may be completely erased.
In other cases, record sealing may be available. If the defendant successfully completed deferred adjudication probation, the trial judge may seal judicial records after a waiting period expires. For all intents and purposes, sealed records are invisible to potential employers, family law attorneys, and anyone else who may be interested in looking at these records.
Assault charges are among the most serious, and most defensible, misdemeanors in Texas. 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.