Is a Federal Assault Charge Different from a State Assault Charge?

Is a Federal Assault Charge Different from a State Assault Charge?No two criminal charges are the same, even if they share many similarities and may be classed the same way. Everyone’s case is different, and therefore the charges they face will reflect that. Any criminal charges can carry serious consequences, of course, but certain crimes hold more weight than others, and in some scenarios, you may even find yourself in trouble in more than one court. While nothing is guaranteed, being in the dark about the ramifications of what you’ve been accused of can only hurt you in the long run. Hiring a criminal defense attorney may give you the best chance of evading a conviction, but you should still know as much as possible about what you’re up against.

For example, federal assault and state assault charges are indeed different, but not as different as one may think. Depending on the specifics of your case, you could even face both at the same time. This is not something you want to find out the hard way. For example, assault can be an incredibly broad term for a wide variety of alleged crimes and hefty legal consequences can come with each charge. The prosecution will not be fair; they will not fill you in on anything you’re missing, and they are counting on you missing a lot. Your Killeen attorney can fill in the blanks.

Federal versus state crimes

The difference between federal and state crimes is the jurisdiction in which the alleged crime happened, but it isn’t quite as simple as that. Many times, there’s enough overlap that you’ll be tried in both state and federal court. This typically depends on the severity of the crime of which you’re accused, where it happened, and the alleged victim(s), but it’s ultimately up to the prosecution — both of them. One may defer to the other (say, if federal court has more resources to investigate your case, the state may defer to them) but sometimes, neither defer, and since state and federal court are separate sovereigns, it won’t count as double jeopardy.

In other words, you really can face double the charges. Typically, the penalties associated with federal assault are heavier than state penalties, but this is not always the case. It is incredibly important, however, NOT to underestimate state charges, as their convictions can land you behind bars for just as long — if not longer — as federal. Aside from taking place across state lines, any of the following scenarios can elevate an assault charge to the federal level:

111. Assaulting, resisting, or impeding certain officers or employees.

112. Protection of foreign officials, official guests, and internationally protected persons.

113. Assaults within maritime and territorial jurisdiction.

114. Maiming within maritime and territorial jurisdiction.

115. Influencing, impeding, or retaliating against a Federal official by threatening or injuring a family member.

116. Female genital mutilation.

117. Domestic assault by an habitual offender.

118. Interference with certain protective functions.

119. Protection of individuals performing certain official duties.

If you are convicted of federal and state assault, you’ll face any penalties dictated by both sovereignties. That’s why if there’s any chance federal court could get involved, you’ll want to make sure you hire a criminal defense attorney who can represent you on both levels.

Understanding how Texas handles assault cases

When it comes to state charges, crimes are separated into two categories: felonies and misdemeanors. Assault, on any level, involves allegedly harming another person. A felony assault conviction not only cost you certain rights like voting and the right to bear arms, they also usually mean a long time behind bars and incredibly expensive fines and legal fees.

While it is possible you’ll only face a misdemeanor assault charge depending on the severity of the alleged victim’s injuries (and trying to talk down your charges is always an option for your attorney), aggravated assault is a serious felony with serious consequences. For your assault charge to cross the line into “aggravated,” the prosecution has to allege you either caused serious injuries against someone else, AND/OR you at least “tried” to use a deadly weapon. If you have a gun on your person but never draw or fire it, the prosecution could still try to use that against you.

Felony assault is divided into third, second, and first degrees, with first-degree being the most severe (though all are serious). Even third-degree felony assault (including most domestic abuse cases) can land you in prison for up to 10 years with a $10,000 fine, but first-degree can get you life. Regardless of the collateral consequences like losing your right to own a firearm, any felony assault conviction can dramatically reroute and derail your future — and your future savings.

In Texas, the prosecutor can refuse to drop charges even if the alleged victim wants them dropped.  Because it’s the state that prosecutes you and not the individual, your alleged victim does not need to support the allegations at all for you to still be convicted.

Why do I need a Copperas Cove criminal defense attorney?

When it comes to criminal charges, you do have a few options on how to proceed, but choosing the wrong ones can ruin your chances at avoiding or lessening a conviction. Depending on what happened and what you’ve been accused of, you may be tempted to do whatever you can to get everything over with as quickly as possible, but try to resist making any brash decisions without, at least, consulting with a legal professional first.

For example, pleading guilty may seem attractive on the surface, and it may even be right for you. You may face lesser charges and spend less time in court because of it, therefore saving money. However, once you plead guilty, your guaranteed some sort of consequence and the possibility of a life-long criminal record. Even if you feel responsible for what happened, robbing yourself of the ability to prove your innocence will only cost you more in the long run.

In a similar vein, attorneys and their fees may seem intimidating and you may want to settle things yourself, but that is exactly what the prosecution is counting on. A skilled criminal defense attorney has years of specific education dedicated to helping people in your shoes, which means they simply know what to do more than you do alone. They know the tricks both state and federal prosecutors pull, they know how to build a strong defense, how to fact-find and investigate, and how to best represent you overall in court. Hiring a strong attorney now can help you avoid a lifetime of unfair consequences.

If you’ve been accused of felony-level assault here in Copperas Cove, the criminal defense attorneys at Mary Beth Harrell Law Firm are ready to help. Serving all of Central Texas, including Waco, Belton, and Harker Heights, and Coryell, McLennan and Bell Counties, we are proud to represent as many fellow Texans as possible without any judgment or assumption. To get started on your case, call us today or use our contact form, and we’ll fight your charges together.