Generally, assault is a spontaneous crime related to alcohol consumption. A verbal argument gets out of control or people do things they normally would not do. As a result, Section 22.01 crimes are fairly common on court dockets in the months following the sometimes overly-festive holiday season.
Back in the day, the spousal privilege applied in assault cases. Spouses had an absolute right to refuse to testify in these situations. But the law changed several decades ago. The domestic assault trial of former Houston Oilers quarterback Warren Moon was one of the first times that the state forced a wife to testify against her husband.
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.
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.
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.
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.
An assault conviction is bad enough. There are both direct and indirect consequences. A Section 22.01 violation is, at a minimum, a Class A misdemeanor. That means up to a year in jail. Furthermore, assault is a crime of moral turpitude. Such a conviction can cause problems later in life, especially in terms of deportation proceedings.
From start to finish, fear dominates assault-family violence proceedings. Fear, in some way, usually sparks the arguments that lead to assault accusations. But that is only the beginning.