According to a report by TV station ABC 13, crime in Houston is up 30 percent or more since the pandemic began. In the first five months of 2019, 90,916 crimes were reported to Houston Police. In the same period of 2021, 103,248 crimes were reported. More alarmingly, aggravated assaults are up 39 percent from 2019 — one now occurs every 28 minutes.
Being convicted of assault, simple or aggravated, has serious consequences that can stay with you for the remainder of your life, making it difficult to obtain employment, get a professional license, secure leases or a mortgage, or obtain government benefits. In felony convictions, you can even lose your voting and gun ownership rights.
If you’ve been charged with assault in or around Houston, or anywhere in the communities of Galveston, Montgomery, Fort Bend, or Brazoria, contact criminal defense attorney Mekisha Jane Walker at the Walker Law Office. She will fight for you aggressively and work with you to build a solid defense as you go forward in the legal process.
Assault assumes two forms under Texas law: simple assault and aggravated assault.
Simple assault occurs when someone:
Intentionally, knowingly, or recklessly causes bodily injury to another person, or
Intentionally or knowingly engages in provocative or offensive physical contact with another
Aggravated assault occurs when someone:
Intentionally, knowingly, or recklessly causes serious bodily injury to another person, or
Uses or exhibits a deadly weapon in the course of committing any assault crime, including threatening another with bodily injury or engaging in conduct that the victim likely will find offensive
Under the simple assault definition, bodily injury refers to something minor like a bruise or cut as opposed to “serious” bodily injury under aggravated assault, which may require surgery or hospitalization.
In contrast to intentionally or knowingly committing an assault, doing so recklessly means disregarding the other person’s well-being, for instance by pushing someone out of the way while racing to catch a train or get to a ballgame.
Provocative or offensive physical conduct means making someone else feel violated or threatened. This could be poking someone in the chest during an argument or even “getting in someone’s space.”
Simple assault can result in misdemeanor and felony charges. Provocative, offensive conduct is usually charged as a Class C misdemeanor but rises to a Class A if the victim is elderly or disabled. It can be charged as a Class B misdemeanor if the victim is a sports official or participant in the event.
Assault that results in bodily injury is a Class A misdemeanor but can be charged as a third-degree felony if the victim is a public official, a pregnant woman, or if the incident is a repeat act of family violence or domestic assault. If a judge or police officer is assaulted during the performance of their duties, the charge rises to a second-degree felony.
Class C Misdemeanor - A Class C misdemeanor is punishable by a fine of up to $500.
Class B Misdemeanor - A Class B misdemeanor can warrant up to 180 days in jail and a $2,000 fine.
Class A Misdemeanor - A Class A misdemeanor brings a penalty of up to one year in jail and a $4,000 fine.
Third-Degree Felony - A third-degree felony is punishable by 2 to 10 years in prison and a fine of up to $10,000.
Second-Degree Felony - A second-degree felony raises the limit to 20 years in prison and a fine of up to $10,000.
Serious bodily injury in aggravated assault means injury that creates a substantial risk of death or that causes death or results in permanent disfigurement or loss or impairment of the use of a bodily part or organ. Broken bones and lifelong scarring are examples.
Deadly weapons are any object that can cause death or serious bodily injury, including firearms, knives, rope, and even a baseball bat. Recklessness is the same as in simple assault – doing something without regard to the outcome -- but in this case, causes another to suffer serious bodily injury. If you push someone out of the way to catch a train, and that person falls and breaks an arm, that represents aggravated assault.
Aggravated assault is generally charged as a second-degree felony but rises to a first-degree felony charge if:
A deadly weapon is used in domestic assault resulting in serious bodily injury
The act is committed against a public servant acting in their official capacity
The offender retaliates against a witness, informant, or person who reported a crime
The offender discharges a firearm from a motor vehicle at a house, building, or vehicle with reckless disregard and causes serious bodily injury to someone
A person convicted of a second-degree felony faces 2 to 20 years in prison and a fine of up to $10,000. A first-degree conviction is punishable by 5 to 99 years in prison and a fine of up to $10,000. The convicted offender can also be required to pay restitution to the victim for medical expenses, property damage, and/or counseling.
For some charges, deferred adjudication and community supervision are possible. Deferred adjudication allows the defendant to complete probation and other requirements while sentencing is withheld. If probation is completed successfully, the charge may be dismissed.
Community supervision, also known as probation, allows the defendant to avoid the full jail or prison sentence, but they generally must serve some time behind bars before being granted community service – usually 30 to 180 days. During probation, the defendant must comply with all conditions and meet with their parole officer regularly.
An experienced defense attorney can argue for these alternatives, along with developing a solid defense strategy aimed at achieving the best possible outcome in court.
You don’t want to rely on a public defender. Public defenders, no matter how well-intentioned or trained, face huge caseloads and are juggling several defense cases at the same time. Their initial instinct is to seek a plea bargain rather than face a trial.
If you are facing assault charges in or around Houston, you need an aggressive criminal defense lawyer to fight for you and help you to build a case that can plant the seeds of reasonable doubt in the minds of the jury. Contact Mekisha Jane Walker by phone today to schedule a free consultation!