Assault Charges in Texas: A Step-By-Step Guide on Your Next Course of Action
There are many ways to be charged with an assault charge in the state of Texas.
For this reason, there is also a wide range of punishments that might be doled out for this kind of action. Legal consequences for an assault can range from mild to incredibly severe.
If you've gotten assault charges in Texas, it's vital you take the time to understand the legal process you'll have to work through. Preparation and understanding are keys to your making it through the other side in one piece.
Read on, and we'll walk you through what to expect from your assault case and what you need to do to protect yourself in court.
Initial Steps of an Assault Case
An assault charge was issued to you by an officer of the law.
What happens next?
In most cases, you'll be brought forward in front of a judge from the state within 48 hours of your initial arrest. You'll be read the charges as well as your rights, including your right to an attorney. If you've already hired legal counsel, they will be able to attend this meeting.
The most important thing that will happen at this meeting is the judge will set your bail or allow you to be released without bail. It is highly advisable that you pay bail and return home if at all possible.
Not only will this prevent you from having to spend any time behind bars, but it'll also put you in a much better position to prepare for your case. You'll be able to handle the day-to-day duties of your life, and have more time to sit down with your attorney in person and strategize.
The judge will also set the date for the next day that you'll be required to appear. It's very important that you take note of this date. Failure to appear will allow the judge to assign you a sentence without you being present.
What Are the Charges Filed?
When it comes to an assault case, there are several different charges that could be filed against you.
These will vary depending on the severity of the act committed.
Some assault charges will only be a misdemeanor charge.
A Class C misdemeanor doesn't even require actual assault, just the persistent threat of it. A Class B misdemeanor is an assault during a sports performance, and a Class A misdemeanor is when bodily harm is done to another individual.
Misdemeanor charges are hit with less harsh punishments than assault charges that are considered felonies. Punishment will rise up the classes, but even a person with a Class A charge can be sentenced to a year in prison at most, or a fine of $4,000.
Felony charges, on the other hand, are considered much more serious.
A third-degree assault felony is when an individual attacks someone within their household, a second degree is a repeated offense, and first degree is aggravated assault.
Aggravated assault is when serious injury is done or some sort of weapon was used. Those who are hit with felony charges have a much higher chance of having to spend some time behind bars. A person charged with a first-degree felony might have to spend anywhere from five to twenty years in prison.
Building a Case Strategy
If you've hired an attorney, you will likely spend the time leading up to your case creating a strategy.
This strategy will vary depending on the specific circumstances of your case.
If you believe the charges against you don't have any grounds, an attorney will work with you to build a case to prove your innocence. This will involve gathering evidence to prove that you weren't present for the crime, or that the assault in question did not occur.
Other situations will require different approaches. It can be hard to get around an assault charge as a whole, but a good attorney can help to lower the severity of your potential punishment and get you to a best-case outcome.
You might have been charged with a Class A misdemeanor, for example, and an attorney could build a case intending to prove that you really are only guilty of a Class B or C.
Building this strategy might require bringing in witnesses, finding video of the incident, and creating a backstory or history between you and the plaintiff. An experienced attorney will know what sort of evidence will suit your particular case.
Arraignment and Going to Trial
The first court appearance after charges are filed is known as the arraignment.
The charges will be read again here and you will have the opportunity to plead guilty or not guilty.
Your attorney might be able to fight for a plea deal at this arraignment. A successful plea deal could result in reduced charges and penalties, or the dropping of the case altogether. If this is unsuccessful, the case will proceed to trial.
In a trial, your case will be decided by a judge and a jury of your peers. Your attorney will present the evidence as planned and make a case for the intended outcome you decided upon. The judge and jury will deliberate and charges will be administered.
Facing Assault Charges in Texas
If you're facing assault charges in Texas, it's vital that you understand how the legal process works.
Knowing the ins and outs of how a criminal case will proceed can help you better prepare and work towards an ideal outcome.
Need help building your case?
Contact me anytime for a free consultation.