Aggravated Assault - Deadly Weapon
People are arrested and charged with assault every day in Collin, Denton and Dallas Counties. This most often happens when a single witness makes an allegation against another person. That allegation is then reported to a police officer. There may be zero corroborating physical evidence that a crime even occurred, but that person is charged nevertheless. Add in an allegation of the presence of a weapon and that simple assault where there is no evidence of injury becomes Aggravated Assault with a Deadly Weapon. Now the accused is going to jail for a second degree felony and facing possible prison time. Fortunately, it does not have to end there. By hiring an experienced and respected criminal defense attorney, you can begin to undo the damage done by a false allegation.Understanding the Aggravated Assault Statute
In Texas Aggravated Assault with a Deadly Weapon is defined by Texas Penal Code Section 22.02. Aggravated Assault occurs when a person uses or exhibits a deadly weapon while committing some type of assault. There are a lot of elements at play here. Many of these terms may not mean what you think.
What Constitutes “Assault”?
In order for an assault to occur, it is not necessary that anyone actually be injured. An assault can occur if you intentionally cause bodily injury to someone else, but it can also occur where you only threaten imminent bodily injury or where you simply cause offensive or provocative physical contact with someone else. Aggravated assault with a deadly weapon most commonly occurs where there is no bodily injury. Most often you have an assault by threat where there is no physical contact of any kind. The threat does not even have to be verbal. This may come in the form of pointing a weapon at someone or brandishing a weapon in the heat of an argument.
What is a Deadly Weapon?
It is not unusual that a deadly weapon is alleged to have been used in committing an assault when in fact there was no deadly weapon at all. The legislature specifically enumerates only one thing that is by definition a deadly weapon. That is a firearm. Guns are considered deadly weapons no matter how they are used or what you intend to do with them. That is not true with any other item. With everything else the State of Texas must prove that you actually used the item as a deadly weapon or that you intended to use the item as a deadly weapon.
For example, most people (including law enforcement) would assume that a butcher knife is a deadly weapon, but a butcher knife is not a deadly weapon per se. In other words it is not, without some evidence of misuse, a deadly weapon by itself. The intended use of a butcher knife is cutting up food in the kitchen. Its intended use is not to dismember a former friend. It may be capable of cutting off an arm or a leg, but that is not its intended use. A butcher knife only becomes a deadly weapon if someone actually uses it as a deadly weapon. It only becomes a deadly weapon if someone purposefully uses it in a way that could cause death or serious injury to another person. Believe it or not, many in law enforcement do not appreciate this distinction. An experienced criminal defense attorney will make this distinction for you - whether to the prosecutor or to a jury.Possible Penalties for Aggravated Assault With a Deadly Weapon
Aggravated Assault with a Deadly Weapon is generally a second degree felony. In cases where the victim is a family member or law enforcement officer, the level of the offense may be elevated to a first degree, but most cases are second degree felonies. That means that a person without any criminal record of any kind can receive up to 20 years in prison if convicted. That does not mean that if you are charged with Aggravated Assault that you will necessarily go to prison for 20 years, but it is within the potential range of punishment. Generally, the most significant factors in determining punishment are the circumstances of the offense and the accused person's criminal history.
Dismissal or Reduced Sentence
Depending on the nature of what is alleged and what defenses may be available to the accused person, it is possible to achieve a dismissal or reduced sentence in many cases. Your case may be one that is appropriate to reduce to a lesser offense. It may even be appropriate for outright dismissal of all charges. When we accept representation in your case, our goal is to see that your charges are dropped and your record is cleared. In order to determine if your case may dismissed or reduced to a lesser charge, it is critical that we have all the information related to your case. It is also important that we have the information that is available to the prosecution. An experienced criminal defense attorney will get the information necessary, and analyze and use that information to achieve the best outcome in your case.Not Guilty
While most cases are resolved without a jury trial, it is essential that all potential defenses be investigated in the course of preparing your case for court. Defenses may come in the form of evidence that negates an element of the offense or they may come in the form of evidence of justification of your actions. Common defenses to Aggravated Assault with a Deadly Weapon include:
- The actor had no intent to threaten;
- The actor had no intent to harm;
- The injuries were accidental in nature;
- No deadly weapon was used or exhibited;
- The actor was defending himself;
- The actor was defending a third party.
This is in no way an exhaustive list of all defenses, but does represent some of the more common circumstances which might lead to a not guilty finding on your charges. We will work with you to explore every option to get you the most favorable outcome on your case.Hire an Experienced Assault Defense Attorney
If you've been arrested for Aggravated Assault with a Deadly Weapon, it is critical that you are well represented. You face very serious charges, and you must have a lawyer that has the experience and credibility to effectively argue your case to the court and the prosecutor.
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