Defense Strategies for Assault Charges

Defense Strategies for Assault ChargesFacing assault charges can be a frightening and life-altering experience. The potential consequences of a conviction, including lengthy prison sentences and a permanent criminal record, make it important to mount a strong defense. The strategies our attorneys will use for your defense may vary based on the circumstances of your case, but also on the type of charge you face.

Which assault charge are you facing?

Felony assault typically involves causing serious bodily harm or using a weapon during an altercation. The severity of the charge can vary depending on factors such as intent, the degree of injury, and the presence of aggravating circumstances. Misdemeanor assault charges may have less severe penalties, but that does not mean you should take them any less seriously. You could still end up behind bars for a conviction, and the fines can run between $500 and $4,000.

There are several different charges for assault here in Texas:

  • Simple assault. Simple assault occurs when a person intentionally, knowingly, or recklessly causes bodily injury to another person or threatens someone with imminent bodily injury. It is generally a Class A misdemeanor.
  • Aggravated (felony) assault. Aggravated assault is a more serious offense and includes various circumstances that make the assault more severe. These circumstances can include using a deadly weapon during the assault, causing serious bodily injury, or assaulting a public servant, among others. Aggravated assault can range from a second-degree felony to a first-degree felony, depending on the specifics of the case.
  • Sexual assault. Sexual assault involves non-consensual sexual contact or penetration. It is a second-degree felony in most cases but can be upgraded to a first-degree felony under certain conditions, like if the victim is a minor or if a weapon was used during the assault.
  • Assault on a family member. Texas law also addresses assault cases involving family or household members. Assault on a family member, also known as domestic violence, can be charged as a Class A misdemeanor or enhanced to a third-degree felony if there is a prior conviction for domestic violence.
  • Assault of a public servant. Assaulting a public servant, such as a police officer, firefighter, or emergency medical personnel, while they are performing their official duties is a third-degree felony.
  • Assault on an elderly or disabled person. This charge applies when an individual intentionally, knowingly, or recklessly causes bodily injury to an elderly or disabled person. Penalties vary depending on the extent of the harm and the age/disability of the victim.
  • Assault by strangulation. Strangling or choking someone, even without causing visible injury, can result in enhanced assault charges. It is a third-degree felony.
  • Assault by threat. Making a threat of bodily harm that causes another person to fear for their safety can be charged as a Class C misdemeanor.

It’s also important to know that, effective in September, Governor Abbot recently extended the statute of limitations on some assaultive offenses.

House Bill 467, per CBS 7:

…changes the statute of limitations for specific types of aggravated assault offenses. The current statute of limitations is two years for misdemeanor assault and three years for felony assault. House Bill 467 extends these periods to three years for misdemeanor assault and five years for felony assault against a family member or victims with close relationships. The legislation [became] law on September 1, 2023.

[emphasis ours]

How do your attorneys defend against assault charges?

One of the most important decisions you can make when facing felony assault charges is hiring an experienced Killeen criminal defense attorney. Your attorney will advocate for you, guide you through the legal process, analyze the evidence against you, and develop a strong defense strategy. They will also ensure that your rights are protected at every stage of the proceedings.

Your criminal defense attorney will thoroughly review all the evidence against you, looking for weaknesses in the prosecution’s case. This can include things like going over witness statements, finding surveillance footage, reviewing medical records, and other relevant documents. If there are any inconsistencies or doubts regarding the evidence, your attorney will use this to your advantage.

One effective defense strategy is to challenge the prosecution’s case by raising reasonable doubt. This can be done by highlighting inconsistencies in witness testimony, presenting an alibi, or questioning the physical evidence. The goal is to cast doubt on the prosecution’s ability to prove your guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.

For some, claiming self-defense or justification is a viable defense strategy. If you genuinely believed that you were in imminent danger of serious bodily harm or death, and you used force to protect yourself or others, this can be a valid defense. Our attorneys will establish that your actions were reasonable under the circumstances.

In the event the evidence against you is strong, your Killeen attorney might apply a strategy of mitigation and/or plea bargaining. This means negotiating with the prosecution to reduce the charges, or seek a more lenient penalty or sentence. For some, a plea agreement may be the best option to avoid the penalties associated with a felony conviction.

Your criminal defense attorney will also examine the procedures followed during your arrest and the legal process. Any violations of your constitutional rights, such as illegal searches or Miranda rights violations, can lead to evidence being excluded or charges being dismissed.

Another defense strategy may be that someone else committed the alleged assault. This involves presenting evidence or witness testimony to the court that points to another person as the perpetrator of the assault. The goal of this strategy is to create reasonable doubt around your involvement.

Facing felony assault charges is a challenging ordeal, but with the right defense strategies and legal representation, you can protect your rights and work toward the best possible outcome. It’s essential to consult with an experienced criminal defense attorney who can assess your case, develop a tailored defense strategy, and guide you through the legal process. Remember that you are innocent until proven guilty, and a strong defense can make all the difference in your case.

The criminal defense attorneys at Mary Beth Harrell Law Firm understand the legal process, and how to best defend you when you find yourself facing assault charges. We are here to help. To schedule a consultation, call our offices or just fill out our contact form. We’re based in Killeen and Copperas Cove, and proudly serve Coryell, Bell, Williamson, and McLennan Counties, as well as Temple, Harker Heights, Waco, and Belton.