Most people understand that assault involves causing bodily harm to another person or inciting fear of bodily harm in someone. However, the term aggravated assault may seem a little less direct and more confusing to many people.
If you find yourself facing charges related to aggravated assault, you will likely wonder what defines the difference between simple assault and aggravated assault under Texas criminal law.
Familiarizing yourself with the state's laws and sitting down to talk about the circumstances involved in your case with a Texas criminal defense attorney can help you determine whether the situation truly warrants an aggravated assault charge and what defense options you may have.
Intent is a major factor in aggravated assault
People can get charged with assault even in situations where they accidentally hurt someone else or didn't cause any injury at all. In some circumstances, threatening body language, or spoken or written threats of violence, could be enough for the state to bring assault charges against you. In these circumstances, simple assault charges are what will likely result.
This is because your intent is a major factor in how Texas defines aggravated assault. A person commits an aggravated assault when they recklessly, knowingly or intentionally cause serious bodily injury to someone else.
That means that the intent behind the action that causes the injury had to be causing injury, not just protecting themselves. In other words, proving you did not have an intent to hurt the other person could become the crux of your criminal defense strategy in a case involving aggravated assault charges.
A weapon involved in an assault can result in aggravated assault charges
If you have a deadly weapon in your possession at the time of the assault, that may be enough reason for law enforcement to bring aggravated assault charges against you. You don't need to use the weapon as part of the assault. You only need to display it to the victim.
Assaults that involve an improvised weapon that law enforcement can argue could be deadly, even if it is a kitchen implement, could also result in aggravated assault charges.
Aggravated assault charges are more serious than simple assault
Depending on the circumstances and other factors, many assault charges could be misdemeanor offenses. However, aggravated assault can be a second-degree or first-degree felony.
If it involves a family member or a deadly weapon, it becomes a first-degree felony. That means that you could face anywhere from five to 99 years in jail and a fine of up to $10,000.
Anyone facing aggravated assault charges should take immediate steps to protect themselves and formulate a criminal defense strategy that will help them avoid the worst consequences of their situation.