An assault charge in Harris County, Texas, can lead to misdemeanor or felony charges. Regardless, a conviction gives you a permanent criminal record. That will no doubt have consequences for your life and career. It could impact your immigration status, visitation rights, or land you in jail.
Prosecutors consider assault a violent crime and take it seriously. If you’re facing assault charges, your first step should be calling a Houston assault lawyer. An experienced criminal defense attorney can be the difference between a dismissal and conviction.
Arrested for Assault? Ned Barnett Can Help
Attorney Barnett has decades of experience and a unique perspective as a former prosecutor. He is Board Certified as a Criminal Defense Lawyer by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization and knows how important it is to review every fact, no matter how small.
Once Mr. Barnett knows your case, he’ll recommend the next steps. He may hope to get the case dismissed. Or he may have the leverage to get the charges reduced. After all, the difference between felony assault and a misdemeanor is huge.
If he is not confident in winning a trial, he might recommend negotiating a plea. Whatever the facts, he will challenge the evidence, tell your side, and aggressively pursue the best possible outcome.
Houston Assault Charges: What To Expect
An alleged assault can lead to your immediate arrest. Within 48 hours, you or your loved one will go before a magistrate or Harris County judge. This is where the magistrate informs you of the charges and some of your rights.
If your loved one is currently in jail, Ned can work to get them released right away. The court might require a bail bond. But if your loved one isn’t a flight risk or danger, then the court might release them on their recognizance.
It may be that you’ve already been arrested and gotten out of jail. It’s time to call a Houston assault lawyer. You should have representation before your next scheduled court appearance.
Your first official court appearance is the arraignment. This is where you plead not guilty. Mr. Barnett will probably ask for a continuance to learn more about the case and build your defense.
Depending on the situation, the next step might include:
- Filing a motion to dismiss
- Negotiating a plea
- Preparing for trial
Defining Assault in Houston
Under Texas Penal Code Section 22.01, assault means a person intentionally, knowingly, or recklessly:
- Caused another person bodily injury
- Threatened another person with imminent bodily injury
- Caused physical contact with another when they know or should reasonably believe that the other person will find contact offensive or provocative
What is a Bodily Injury?
Bodily injury means physical pain, illness, or any physical impairment. This would include minor injuries, such as a cut or bruise, or even something as minimal as a red mark.
But you can be charged with assault even if the alleged victim doesn’t suffer any bodily injury or come into physical contact with you. The prosecution doesn’t have to prove you caused harm to win a conviction, which is why it’s crucial to hire a Houston assault lawyer.
Assault covers a broad range of conduct, and a lot can be misinterpreted.
Penalties for Assault
The consequences of an assault conviction in Houston, Texas, depend on the level of the offense. If you caused bodily harm, then it is a Class A misdemeanor. If convicted, you face up to one year in county jail and fines up to $4,000.
Threatening the other person or causing offensive contact makes it a Class C misdemeanor. If convicted, you have to pay a fine of up to $500.
The Class C misdemeanor could become a Class A misdemeanor if you assaulted an elderly or disabled person. It’s also a Class A misdemeanor to attempt to force a pregnant person to get an abortion.
When Assault Becomes a Felony
Assault charges can also quickly rise to the felony level. Instead of a Class A misdemeanor, a prosecutor would charge you with a third-degree felony if you assaulted a public servant, a family member, or romantic partner a second or subsequent time or by strangulation. Your conviction could result in between two and 10 years in prison and fines up to $10,000.
A separate and even more severe assault charge is aggravated assault. Under section 22.02, this is a second-degree felony, punishable by up to 20 years in prison and $10,000 in fines.
Defending Against Assault Charges
Being charged with assault doesn’t mean you’ll be convicted. There are many potential defenses. It’s important to talk with a Houston assault attorney about which defense is right for you.
Common assault defenses include:
- Defense of others
- False allegations
- Mistake of identity
- Lack of sufficient evidence
Most people want to claim self-defense. But this requires proving several things. You have to show you reasonably believed force was necessary to protect yourself. And, you have to show you only used a proportional amount of force. You can’t overreact. Also, you can’t argue you acted in self-defense if the other person used words alone.
In most cases, your attorney will challenge the facts and refute the evidence involved in your assault case. No matter the circumstances, working with an experienced lawyer is your best option to resolving things favorably.
Call a Houston Assault Lawyer Today
If you’ve been charged with assault in or around Houston, Texas, there’s no time to wait. There’s a lot a defense lawyer can do to help, but you should act fast.
Houston assault lawyer Ned Barnett will tackle your case immediately. He has the knowledge, skills, and resources you need. As a former prosecutor himself, he understands the criminal process and how to achieve positive results.
Give The Law Offices of Ned Barnett a call at (713) 222-6767. We’ll review your case, clearly explain your option, and how to move on after an assault charge.