When Is it Self-Defense and When Is it Aggravated Assault?
The general term “assault” comprises a variety of crimes under the Texas penal code, ranging from misdemeanors to felonies. The Texas criminal justice system can be harsh and swift, and if you find yourself facing any type of assault charges, it’s important to get started on your defense as soon as possible. When you get an experienced attorney on board right at the beginning of your case, they can start crafting a personalized strategy to help ensure the best outcome for your future.
For many clients, that strategy may be self-defense.
What is aggravated assault, exactly?
Here in Killeen and throughout Texas, state Penal Code defines aggravated assault as an attack, or threat of attack, with the intent to cause serious bodily injury to another person, or with the use or exhibition of a deadly weapon.
Under Texas law, an individual can be charged with aggravated assault if they:
(1) intentionally, knowingly, or recklessly causes bodily injury to another, including the person’s spouse;
(2) intentionally or knowingly threatens another with imminent bodily injury, including the person’s spouse; or
(3) intentionally or knowingly causes physical contact with another when the person knows or should reasonably believe that the other will regard the contact as offensive or provocative.
Aggravated assault is a felony offense in Texas and a conviction carries significant penalties, including prison time and fines. The specific penalty will depend on the circumstances of the case and the defendant’s criminal history. However, a first-degree felony conviction can result in five years to life in prison. You may also lose the right to own a firearm, enlist in the military, and hold certain professional licenses.
Texas also has a “three strikes” law (called a “habitual offender” statute) for certain felonies, including aggravated assault. If an individual has been convicted of two or more felonies, a third conviction can carry a mandatory minimum prison sentence of 25 years.
It wasn’t assault – I was defending myself
As experienced defense attorneys, we understand that not every case is as it might seem. You are innocent until proven guilty and have the right to tell your side of the story. In some cases, a client may be able to use self-defense as a defense against an aggravated assault charge. Self-defense is a legal concept that allows individuals to use reasonable force to protect themselves or others from harm.
Here’s how self-defense as a defense works. You must have had a reasonable belief you were in imminent danger of being harmed, and the force you used must have been necessary and proportional to the perceived threat you were under. (By the way, being provoked is different from self-defense.)
In addition, Texas law provides for the use of deadly force in self-defense in certain circumstances. An individual is justified in using deadly force if they reasonably believe it is immediately necessary to protect their own or another person’s life.
You should note the following, however:
- Using self-defense as a defense to aggravated assault isn’t automatic or a given, and depends on the specific circumstances of the incident in which you were involved. You’ll need to be able to demonstrate that your actions were both essential and reasonable in the moment.
- Self-defense may not be a successful defense if you were the initial aggressor, or if the court determines you used excessive force in response to the perceived threat.
This is why it’s so important to call an attorney as soon as you’re charged with aggravated assault.
How a Killeen aggravated assault defense lawyer can help
If you’ve been charged with any crime – but especially a felony – the best thing you can do for yourself and for your future is to consult with an attorney as soon as possible. Here’s why:
- A criminal defense lawyer can help you understand the charges against you and the potential consequences of a conviction. They can also explain how the legal process works and help you make informed decisions about your case.
- Your attorney helps you build a strong defense. They thoroughly review the evidence against you and identify any weaknesses in the prosecution’s case. They can also gather and present all evidence to support your defense, including witnesses to testify on your behalf.
- Your lawyer can negotiate with the prosecution on your behalf. In many cases, our attorney can work to reach a plea agreement that involves a reduced charge or a lighter sentence.
- An experienced criminal defense attorney represents you in court. If your case goes to trial, your lawyer advocates on your behalf and presents your case in the most favorable light.
Overall, having a criminal defense lawyer on your side can help you navigate a complicated legal system, protect your Constitutional rights, and secure the best possible outcome in your case.
If you’ve been charged with a crime and are considering using self-defense as a defense, it’s important to seek legal representation as soon as possible. An experienced criminal defense lawyer can help you understand the charges against you and advise you on your legal options.
At Mary Beth Harrell Law Firm, we represent individuals in Killeen and Copperas Cove charged with felonies like aggravated assault. We’re here to provide informed and strategic guidance throughout the criminal justice process, starting with your arrest and working until your case is satisfactorily resolved. With years of experience serving Central Texas, we’re proud to serve you too. Call us or fill out our contact form today to schedule a consultation. We also serve clients and families throughout Coryell County, Bell County, Temple, and Belmont.
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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