Violent crimes are among the most severely punished in Texas, which makes the stakes incredibly high if you’ve been arrested or charged for an offense such as assault.
Being accused of a violent crime in Texas has immediate, far-reaching consequences. Before prosecutors file charges or gain an indictment, your family and friends may look at you differently. You could be asked to move out of your home, or you may be ostracized by your community. Your supervisors and co-workers may no longer trust you. Worse yet, you could be fired. You may feel like you are being punished long before a potential guilty verdict. However, there are many ways to fight back against allegations of criminal violence. By hiring a Houston violent crimes lawyer from The Law Offices of Ned Barnett, you gain an experienced legal advocate who is ready to protect your rights and defend you in court.
To learn how Houston criminal defense attorney Ned Barnett can help you fight charges associated with a violent crime and how he will pursue the best possible outcome in your situation, call (713) 222-6767.
Texas Violent Crimes
Violent crimes are unlawful actions that include force or the threat of force against one or more other people. This use or threat of force may include a deadly weapon such as a knife or gun, or it may include physical contact with the victim. Sincere threats are often enough to lead to violent criminal charges.
Some of the most common violent offenses seen in Texas are:
- Assault– The crime of assault includes a variety of actions, including causing another person bodily injury, or threatening another person with imminent bodily injury without actually causing any physical harm. Assault can be charged as a misdemeanor or felony depending on the circumstances. Learn more about this crime and how to defend against it.
- Aggravated Assault– If you are accused of causing someone else serious bodily injury or assaulting someone with a gun or other deadly weapon, then you will likely face an aggravated assault charge. This is a felony offense, and depending on the level of the felony can lead to 2 years or life in prison. Contact a Houston violent crimes lawyer from The Law Offices of Ned Barnett to learn about your defense options.
- Kidnapping– Controlling another person and forcing them to move to another place against their will can lead to kidnapping charges. If you are being accused of restraining or abducting someone, you could be charged with a misdemeanor or felony.
- Robbery and Aggravated Robbery– If you intentionally, knowingly, or recklessly caused another person injury while committing a theft, you may be charged with robbery. If you displayed a dangerous weapon like a gun during this time, then the offense is elevated to aggravated robbery. These are typically charged as second or first-degree felonies. Learn more about these offenses and how a criminal defense attorney can help.
- Homicide– Homicide is an umbrella term that covers a number of types of unlawful killings in Texas. If you are accused of causing another person’s death, you may be charged with criminally negligent homicide, manslaughter, or capital murder. All of these are felony charges that can result in years of incarceration. Contact The Law Offices of Ned Barnett right away to begin building your defense.
- Domestic Violence– If you are accused of assaulting or perpetuating a violent crime against a family member, a current or former romantic partner, or a member of your household, then you may be charged with a domestic violence offense, which can lead to harsher punishments than is typical for the specific crime. Learn more about domestic violence and its consequences from a Houston violent crimes lawyer.
The Criminal Justice Process
When you or a loved one face criminal charges in Texas, it is important to understand the criminal justice process. This includes:
- The arrest- You may be arrested during the commission of a crime or after a criminal investigation. If the police conducted a criminal investigation, then they may obtain a search warrant or a felony indictment before you are arrested and booked into jail.
- Initial court appearance- Within 48 hours of your arrest, you will go before a magistrate to hear the charges against you, your constitutional rights, and the conditions for your release. For a violent crime, you may be denied release upon bail, or the bail amount may be high.
- Release on bail- If you are granted release upon bail, you, your family, or friends can work with a bail bondsman to post the amount necessary. Despite being released from jail, you may not be entirely free. Judges can order a number of conditions upon your release, including travel restrictions.
- A formal complaint or indictment- Prosecutors must either file a formal complaint against you for misdemeanor charges, or go to a grand jury for a felony indictment. A grand jury is a private proceeding during which prosecutors present evidence to a group of 12 of your peers. These jurors determine whether there is probable cause of your guilt. If there is, they will hand down an indictment against you.
- Arraignment- Once prosecutors officially bring the charges against you, your first court hearing is your arraignment. You will hear the exact charges against you and receive a copy of the complaint or indictment. This is also your first chance to enter a guilty or not guilty plea.
- Pre-trial hearings- Following your arraignment (at which you will typically plead not guilty), there will be a number of hearings. For instance, your attorney may file various motions seeking dismissal of your case or inadmissibility of certain evidence.
- Trial- If your team and prosecutors are not able to reach a plea agreement and you do not plead guilty and the prosecution does not dismiss your case, then your case will go to trial. During this process, each side has the chance to present an argument backed by evidence. Either the judge or a jury will determine your guilt. If you are found guilty, the judge or jury will hand down your sentence.
Potential Punishments for Violent Crimes
The minimum and maximum punishments for a violent crime generally depend upon the level of the offense. Penalties for violent crimes committed in Texas are as follows:
- Class C misdemeanor- This is the least serious misdemeanor and is punishable by a fine up to $500.
- Class B misdemeanor- Conviction of a Class B misdemeanor can lead to up to 180 days in jail and a fine up to $2,000.
- Class A misdemeanor- The most serious misdemeanor charge is punishable by up to one year in jail and a fine up to $4,000.
- State jail felony- If conviction of a state jail felony, you can be punished by between 180 days and 2 years in jail, and a fine up to $10,000.
- Third-degree felony- This felony is punishable by 2 to 10 years in prison and a fine up to $10,000.
- Second-degree felony- Second-degree felony convictions can be punished with 2 to 20 years in prison and fines up to $10,000.
- First-degree felony- This felony is typically punishable by between 5 to 99 years or life in prison, and a fine up to $10,000.
- Capital felony- Certain felonies are punishment by life in prison without a chance of parole, or the death penalty.
Collateral Consequences of a Criminal Conviction
Your punishment following a violent crime conviction will include much more than the statutory penalty. Criminal convictions that lead to permanent criminal records have a number of common collateral consequences, including:
- Difficulty obtaining or keeping a job
- Difficulty during the college admission process
- Difficulty obtaining financial aid, including grants and scholarships
- Ineligibility for or difficulty obtaining a professional license
- Less child custody or visitation
- A denial of a visa, permanent residency, or citizenship application
- Inability to travel to certain countries, including Canada
- Loss of your gun ownership rights
- Loss of your voting rights for a period of time
The Habitual Offender Label
If you have two or more previous felony convictions, whether they arose in Texas or elsewhere in the nation, you will be labeled a habitual offender. This label is significant during your case. Once a court determines you are a habitual offender, you face enhanced sentencing upon another conviction. You face a higher likelihood of significant jail or prison time and the maximum fine if you are found guilty of a third or subsequent felony. You are less likely be granted probation or to obtain an early release from jail or prison. This is a label you want to avoid at all costs, and if you cannot avoid it, you need to work with an experienced and tenacious Houston violent crimes lawyer who will strive to minimize the consequences of this description.
Contact a Houston Violent Crimes Lawyer Today
If you are under investigation for a violent crime or have been charged with an offense, contact The Law Offices of Ned Barnett right away. Having an attorney by your side as soon as possible will only help you. Attorney Ned Barnett has 30 years of experience, first as a state and federal prosecutor, and then as a criminal defense attorney. He is a board-certified as a criminal lawyer by the Texas Board of Specialization, and has a track record of obtaining the best outcomes possible for his clients.