It’s no secret that Texas has some of the harshest criminal laws
in the nation. For example, simple assault under
Section 22.01 of the Texas Penal Code is usually a Class A misdemeanor, but if the offense
was against a public servant, such as a police officer or a member of
your household (your spouse or children), it’s a felony of the third degree.
The penalties for
assault as a Class A misdemeanor under
Section 12.21 of the Texas Penal Code include up to a $4,000 fine, or up to one year
in jail, or both. As a
third degree felony, the penalties for assault include up to a $10,000 fine and a prison term
ranging from 2 to 10 years.
Family Violence Under Texas’ Assault Statutes
Let’s say that a husband and wife get into an argument and the husband
punches the wife in the face. Under Sec. 22.01, the husband committed
the offense of “assault” because he intentionally and recklessly
caused bodily injury to his wife.
In contrast, if the husband happened to punch another man during a bar
fight, he’d most likely be charged with a Class A misdemeanor, but
since it was his wife that he punched, the prosecutor would be inclined
to charge the husband with a felony of the third degree.
What if I was defending myself?
Whenever one of our clients is arrested and charged with assault or
aggravated assault under the Texas Penal Code, the first thing we want to know is, “What
really happened?” In our first meeting with our client, we’ll
want to know:
- Who started the fight?
- Who ended the fight?
- Who called the police?
- What was the fight about?
- Were you provoked?
- Were you protecting a third party?
- Is there a history of violence between you and the other party?
- Is there a history of family/domestic violence (for couples)?
- Were you defending yourself or someone else?
Fortunately, lawmakers understand that sometimes people get into fights
because they are attacked or they have to step in and defend an innocent
third party. For example, a man is in a parking lot and he sees another
man punching his pregnant girlfriend.
In order to protect the attacker’s pregnant girlfriend, the innocent
bystander steps in and tries to stop the attack. When the abusive boyfriend
starts hitting the innocent bystander, the two get into a fistfight. The
bystander was stronger, and he hit the boyfriend a few times until he
was finally subdued.
In this situation, the innocent bystander was trying to protect the pregnant
girlfriend and under
Section 9.31, the bystander can claim “self-defense,” and it would likely
be the boyfriend that would be convicted, not the “Good Samaritan.”
Under Sec. 9.31 of the Texas Penal Code, people can claim self-defense
under certain circumstances. Sometimes even, an innocent person is justified
in using “deadly force” when they have to. Essentially, if
someone else physically attacks you, you have the right to defend yourself.
If you are facing assault or aggravated assault charges in a case where
you had to defend yourself or another person, please
Plano criminal defense attorneys for the aggressive defense representation you need and deserve!