Assault charges can lead to some serious consequences. Aggravated assault, particularly with a deadly weapon, can lead to felony charges and prison time. The definition of “deadly weapon” can be a tricky one. Although it typically means something like a gun, bat, or a knife, it can encompass anything that can cause physical harm to an individual.
The Texas Penal Code defines a deadly weapon as:
- a firearm or anything manifestly designed, made, or adapted for the purpose of inflicting death or serious bodily injury; or
- anything that in the manner of its use or intended use is capable of causing death or serious bodily injury.
The more severe the injury to the victim, the more likely a court will determine an object to be a deadly weapon. Following are a few examples of the most bizarre and strange deadly weapons used in recent history.
An animated GIF
In 2017, a Texas jury indicted John Rayne Rivello on assault with a deadly weapon after intentionally tweeting a GIF animation at journalist Kurt Eichenwald with the intent of provoking an epileptic seizure. After tweeting the image at Eichenwald, who did suffer a seizure after viewing the GIF, Rivello allegedly sent messages to a friend saying, “I hope this sends him into a seizure.” Experts say this is likely the first time a GIF was deemed a deadly weapon in an assault.
A meat thermometer
A movie screening turned violent back in 2010 when a man stabbed another theatergoer in the neck with a meat thermometer. The altercation began when the victim asked the man’s companion to stop talking on her cellphone, according to authorities. The victim was in a coma for several days and lost sight in one eye. The assailant was charged with attempted murder and assault with a deadly weapon.
This is an oldie but goodie from 1999, with the classic headline, “Teach a man to fish and he will eat for the rest of his life. Give Nicholas Vitalich a fish and he will hit his girlfriend with it.” All joking aside, Vitalich assaulted his girlfriend with a large tuna after an argument in the supermarket, leaving her with cuts and bruises on her face, arms, and legs. He was arrested for assault with a deadly weapon.
Joshua James was charged with assault with a deadly weapon in 2016 after throwing a three-foot alligator through a Wendy’s drive-through window. James admitted to authorities he had found the animal by the side of the road, threw it through the window and drove off. He was later arrested at a nearby convenience store. The alligator was released into the wild and James was ordered to have no further contact with animals. No injuries were reported.
A prosthetic leg
A Florida woman found herself facing assault with a deadly weapon charges in 2012 after she attacked her ex-boyfriend with his own prosthetic leg. Following an altercation that occurred during a child custody exchange, Jadian Faye-Marie Hatfield pulled off Brandon Fleming’s prosthetic leg and attacked him with it. She then pointed a 12-gauge shotgun at Fleming and left with their child, adding interfering with custody to the list of charges against her.
Over in California, a man was arrested for attacking people with a crucifix. Forrest Brantley was charged with using stolen crucifixes as a deadly weapon after battering multiple victims on the street in Ventura. A 75-year-old man suffered injuries when Brantley broke the window of his car.
More “common” deadly weapons in Texas
The Texas Penal Code defines a specific list of weapons:
- Explosive Weapon
- Firearm Silencer
- Location-Restricted Knife
- Machine Gun
- Short-Barrel Firearm
- Armor-Piercing Ammunition
- Hoax Bomb
- Chemical Dispensing Device
- Zip Gun
- Tire Deflation Device
Using a deadly weapon constitutes felony assault, but these charges will be upgraded if the assault is on a family member, domestic partner, public servant, or other protected individual.
If you are charged with aggravated assault
Aggravated assault in Texas is a serious charge and requires serious criminal defense. If you are charged with aggravated or felony assault, you could face anywhere from two years to life in prison, depending on the charges, as well as paying restitution to the victim. Even a third-degree felony assault can land you up to 10 years and fines up to $10,000.
Anyone convicted of a felony in Texas can lose the right to own, possess, or purchase a firearm and lose the right to enlist in the military. You can also lose the chance to apply for many types of jobs and professional licenses. Even though some of the deadly weapon stories above – like the alligator or GIF – might seem like thoughtless pranks, the consequences can affect you for the rest of your life.
An experienced Killeen criminal defense attorney works with you to prove your innocence or minimize your charges. Depending on the nature of the charges and the circumstances around your arrest, attorneys can employ a variety of defenses, including arguing:
- A violation of your Constitutional rights
- That prosecution did not meet their burden of proof
- Your actions did not meet the definition of aggravated assault
- You were acting in self-defense
The criminal defense attorneys at the Mary Beth Harrell Law Firm protect the rights of individuals charged with assault and aggravated assault. We are here to help. To set up a consultation, call us today at 254-680-4655 or visit our contact page. We proudly serve clients from our offices in Killeen and Copperas Cove.
I’ve dedicated my legal career to defending my clients. I demand all the evidence. I investigate all the facts, the so-called witnesses and even the police officers. I make it my business to know the law. Cases can be won or lost before you even set foot inside the courtroom.
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