Assaulting a public servant in Houston is a serious crime. If you’ve been arrested for assaulting a police officer or other public servant, you could be facing significant jail time, as well as thousands of dollars in fines.
According to Texas state law, assault is a crime that occurs when a person intentionally, knowingly, or recklessly causes bodily injury to another; threatens them in a way that would cause the other person to fear for their safety; or has physical contact with another person in a way that would be reasonably be considered offensive or provocative. It becomes aggravated assault if a person uses or exhibits a deadly weapon during the commission of the assault. In both instances, the penalties are more severe when they involve assault against a public servant.
What Is A Public Servant?
Texas law defines a public servant as “a person elected, selected, appointed, employed, or otherwise designated as one of the following, even if he has not yet qualified for office or assumed his duties.” This includes:
- An officer, employee, or agent of government;
- A juror or grand juror;
- An arbitrator, referee, or other person who is authorized by law or private written agreement to hear or determine a cause or controversy;
- An attorney at law or notary public when participating in the performance of a governmental function;
- A candidate for nomination or election to public office;
- A person who is performing a governmental function under a claim of right, although he is not legally qualified to do so.
You are presumed to have known the person you assaulted was a public servant if that person was wearing a distinctive uniform or badge indicating that the person is a public servant.
Simple Assault Against a Public Servant in Houston Is a Third Degree Felony
In most circumstances, simple assault is a Class A misdemeanor offense. A conviction can result in a punishment of up to a year in county jail and fines of up to $4,000. However, these charges can be bumped up to a third degree felony when the offense is committed against “a person the accused knows is a public servant while that public servant is lawfully discharging an official duty, or in retaliation or on account of an exercise of official power or performance of an official duty as a public servant.”
A conviction for a third degree felony could get you 2-10 years in jail as well as fines of up to $10,000.
Aggravated Assault Against a Public Servant in Houston Is a First Degree Felony
Aggravated assault with a deadly weapon in Texas is usually a second degree felony. If convicted, you could receive a prison sentence of between 2 to 20 years and fines up to $10,000. However, the charges can be bumped up to a first degree felony when the assault is directed against a public servant. A conviction for a first degree felony conviction can get you 5 to 99 years or life in prison and up to $10,000 in fines.
If the assault results in the death of the public servant, you could face the death penalty.
Protect Your Rights when Charged with Assaulting a Public Servant
Were you unaware at the time that the person you allegedly assaulted was a public servant? Was the “assault” actually just an accident? If you’ve been charged with assaulting a public servant in Houston, the smartest choice you can make is to speak to an experienced criminal defense attorney as soon as possible after your arrest.
Lisa Shapiro Strauss is an assault lawyer in Houston who has successfully defended clients accused of all types of assault in Houston and Harris County. The sooner you have Lisa working on your side, the more opportunities there will be to examine the evidence against you and formulate an effective defense strategy. Lisa’s representation could mean the difference between going to jail or going free.
Don’t plead guilty to any criminal charge until you’ve had a chance to speak with a lawyer. Contact Houston assault attorney Lisa Shapiro Strauss to schedule a confidential consultation to determine what the best course of action is in your case.