Governor Abbot Extends Statute of Limitations on Certain Assault Offenses

Statute of Limitations The state of Texas recently passed a bill that extends the statute of limitation on several offenses, including misdemeanor and felony assault. These are serious offenses and these extensions now give law enforcement more time to prosecute. It is crucial that, if you are accused (or think you may be accused) of assault, you get an attorney on your side as soon as possible, because these charges will not go away.

What is HB 467?

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 will become law on September 1, 2023.

[emphasis ours]

If you are charged with a felony assault, it is in your best interest to understand the charges against you.

What is felony assault in Texas?

Here in Texas, under the law, an assault can be a felony or misdemeanor. A felony assault refers to a more serious form of assault that involves causing significant harm or injury to another person or involves specific aggravating factors. Felony assault is classified into several degrees, each with varying degrees of severity and corresponding penalties. The key factors that can elevate an assault to a felony in Texas include:

  • Serious bodily injury. If the assault causes serious bodily injury to the victim, it can be considered a felony offense. Serious bodily injury refers to injuries that create a substantial risk of death or that cause permanent disfigurement or impairment of bodily functions.
  • Use of a deadly weapon. If a deadly weapon, such as a firearm or a knife, is used during the assault, it can lead to felony charges.
  • Victim’s status. Assault against certain individuals, such as public servants (police officers, firefighters, etc.), security officers, emergency responders, and some other public officials, can be charged as felonies.

The degrees of felony assault in Texas are as follows:

  • Third-degree felony assault. Assault that causes serious bodily injury to a family member, household member, or public servant is classified as a third-degree felony. The punishment for a third-degree felony in Texas can include 2 to 10 years in prison and a fine of up to $10,000.
  • Second-degree felony assault. Assault with a deadly weapon that causes serious bodily injury to anyone can be charged as a second-degree felony. A conviction for a second-degree felony can result in 2 to 20 years in prison and a fine of up to $10,000.
  • First-degree felony assault. Assault with a deadly weapon that causes severe bodily injury to the victim can be charged as first-degree felony assault. A conviction for this can result in a prison sentence of 5 to 99 years or life in prison and fines up to $10,000.

It’s important to remember that felony assault charges can be complex and depend on the specific circumstances of the incident. Our Killeen legal team can help sort out the charges against you and build a strategic defense based on the details of your case.

“I have a great deal of respect for the Harrell Law Firm and her associates. They saved my life, hands down. They actually gave me a better way of looking at life. Her staff member, Teresa, was wonderful in helping me with questions about the case and giving me the support I needed. The money I spent on this law firm was very well spent because she got my case dismissed. I give thanks to Ms. Harrell and Teresa for my life because that what they gave me back. I will tell everyone I know to come to this firm.”

-TR ~ Killeen, TX. 

What is misdemeanor assault in Texas?

A misdemeanor assault refers to a criminal offense that involves intentionally, knowingly, or recklessly causing bodily injury to another person, threatening someone with imminent bodily injury, or causing physical contact with someone in a provocative or offensive manner.

Misdemeanor assault is typically a Class A misdemeanor in Texas, punishable by up to one year in county jail and/or a fine of up to $4,000. However, in certain circumstances, it can be enhanced to a third-degree felony if the victim is a family member, household member, or a public servant, such as a police officer. Additionally, if you have previous assault convictions, the penalties can be more severe.

Why you need a Killeen lawyer if you’re facing assault charges

Now that the statute of limitations for assault charges has been extended, you can be surprised with assault charges years after the incident occurred. Working with an experienced Killeen criminal defense attorney from Mary Beth Harrell Law Firm can help. We have resources at our disposal that you wouldn’t have if you tried to take on your own defense. We also have decades of experience successfully representing folks who have been accused of assault. Some of the defenses we may apply to your case include:

  • Self-defense. This is the most common defense to assault charges. To successfully assert self-defense, you must show that you reasonably believed you were in imminent danger of being harmed, and that you used only the amount of force necessary to protect yourself.
  • Defense of others. This defense is similar to self-defense, but it applies to situations where you were defending someone else who was in danger.
  • Defense of property. This defense allows you to use reasonable force to protect your property from damage or theft.
  • Consent. If the plaintiff consented to the physical contact, then you cannot be convicted of assault. However, consent must be freely given and there must be no coercion or force involved.
  • Lack of mental state. If you were not mentally capable of forming the intent to commit assault, then you may be able to raise an insanity defense.
  • Necessity. This defense applies to situations where you committed assault to prevent greater harm from occurring. For example, if you pushed someone out of the way of a moving car, you may be able to raise a necessity defense.
  • Duress. This defense applies to situations where you were forced to commit assault by the threat or use of force.

It is important to note that these are just some of the possible defenses to assault charges. The specific defenses available will depend on the specific facts of the case. If you have been charged with assault, it is important to speak with one of our experienced Killeen criminal defense attorney to discuss your case and the possible defenses that may be available to you.

If you or someone you know are facing assault charges, get Mary Beth Harrell Law Firm on your side now, no matter how long or short the statute of limitations. To discuss your options today, call us or fill out our contact form. We’re based in Killeen and Copperas Cove, and proudly serve all of Central Texas, including Coryell, Bell, Williamson, and McLennan Counties, and Temple, Harker Heights, Waco, and Belton.