You were hanging out at a local bar, maybe had a little too much to drink. Somebody bumps into you, you push back. He throws a punch, you respond in kind. The fight is broken up by club security before the situation gets out of hand; your friends drag you out and take you home. The next day the police show up at your place and arrest you for assault. Why are you being arrested? You didn’t start the fight. What will you do now?
It’s important to remember that you have rights in situations like this. If you have been arrested for assault after a bar fight in Houston or other altercation, it is important to seek qualified legal help. Depending on the circumstances, the penalties for assault in Texas can include fines and/or jail time. Having an experienced Houston assault attorney defending you could result in lesser penalties or even having the charges dropped altogether.
Assault in Houston
The Texas Penal code says you have committed assault if you intentionally, knowingly, or recklessly:
- Caused bodily injury to another person.
- Threatened another person with imminent bodily injury.
- Engaged in physical contact with another when the person knows or should reasonably believe that the other will regard the contact as offensive or provocative.
Charges for assault are based on the type of assault as well as who the victim was and what they were doing at the time of the assault.
Misdemeanor Assault Charges in Houston
If you threaten someone and there isn’t any physical injury, you could still be charged with a Class C misdemeanor, which is punishable by a fine of up to $500. Class B misdemeanor charges can result if the assault is against a sports participant during or after a game. Class B misdemeanors are punishable by up to 180 days in jail and a fine of up to $2,000. If the assault caused only minor injuries to the victim, you could be charged with a Class A misdemeanor is punishable by up to a year in a county jail and a fine of up to $4,000.
Felony Assault Charges in Houston
In more serious cases, you could be charged with felony assault. You could be charged with a third degree felony if you are accused of assault on a public servant (such as a mail carrier), a government contractor (such as a CPS worker), emergency responder (such as firefighters), security guard or sports officiator while they are doing their jobs. Choking or impairing a person’s breathing during an assault is also considered a third degree felony.
Aggravated assault – causing serious injury or using a weapon while committing assault – is a second degree felony, and the penalty can be 2 to 20 years in a state prison and/or a fine of up to $10,000. A prior conviction, assaulting a person with whom you are in a dating relationship, a family member, or household member can also result in second degree felony charges.
Aggravated assault against someone with whom who have a domestic relationship, an elected official, law enforcement officer, emergency responder, security guard, witness, or informant can result in first degree felony charges. These are very serious charges that could get you 5 years to life in prison as well as fines of up to $10,000.
Defenses for Assault Charges after a Bar Fight in Houston
If you have been charged with assault after a bar fight in Houston, the first thing you should do is to hire a Houston criminal defense attorney with experience in assault cases. Remember, you’re innocent until proven guilty. Your attorney will be able to review the facts in your particular case and formulate an effective defense strategy.
One of these strategies will be to dispute the evidence presented by the prosecution. Did an assault – in the legal sense of the term – even take place? If an assault actually took place, what is the evidence that you were responsible? Witnesses for the prosecution – did they actually see the assault take place? And if they did, what mental condition were they in at the time of the alleged result? How many drinks had they consumed? And what is the relationship of the eyewitnesses to the victim?
Another strategy is the affirmative defense – you admit that you that you assaulted the person but that you had legal justification for doing so. Your lawyer will have to prove to a jury that you acted in self-defense, to protect another person from harm or were acting to protect your property from theft or vandalism.
Either one of the strategies could pay off for you, resulting in a reduced sentence, or even a not-guilty verdict.
Speak With a Houston Assault Attorney
Don’t let a conviction for misdemeanor or felony assault in Texas ruin your future. Houston assault attorney Lisa Shapiro Strauss has been successfully representing individuals facing assault and other criminal charges for over 20 years. She devotes significant time, personnel and resources to each case to ensure the highest standard of service.
As an experienced criminal defense attorney and former prosecutor, Lisa Shapiro Strauss knows how the criminal justice system works and what it takes to get the best results for her clients. If you have been charged with assault or another crime, don’t put your future in jeopardy. Contact Lisa Shapiro Strauss at (713) 449-9922 to schedule a free consultation with an experienced assault defense attorney in Houston.