If you’re facing Houston assault charges, it’s important to know everything you can about these charges, including what the different types of charges mean and what the potential assault penalties are if convicted.
If a simple assault results only in minor injuries, it generally is charged as a Class A misdemeanor, with penalties of up to 1 year in jail and/or $4,000 in fines.
When the simple assault involves just threatening or touching, it is generally classified as a Class C misdemeanor with a fine of up to $500. It can be increased to a Class A misdemeanor if the threat was made against an elderly person, or to a Class B misdemeanor if made against a sports official such as a referee or umpire. A Class B misdemeanor conviction can result in up to 180 days in jail and up to $2,000 in fines.
In certain circumstances, a simple assault charge can be increased to a 3rd degree felony. This can happen if the assault is committed against:
- A public servant or government official.
- A security guard or emergency services worker.
- A family member or other person whom you have or previously had a domestic relationship with AND you have a previous domestic violence conviction.
If the assault charge is increased to a 3rd degree felony, the potential penalties are up to 10 years in prison and up to $10,000 in fines.
Aggravated Assault/Assault with a Weapon
An aggravated assault charge is one in which one of the following factors is present:
- Serious injury was caused
- A weapon was used in the assault
While most people think of a weapon as a gun or a knife, in reality any object used to cause physical harm, or the threat of physical harm, could be considered a “weapon.” Hitting someone with a rock, for example, could be considered assault with a weapon.
This charge is usually a 2nd-degree felony carrying potential penalties of between 2 and 20 years in prison and fines up to $10,000.
However, certain factors can cause an aggravated assault charge to be enhanced to a 1st degree felony. Some of these circumstances are:
- The defendant is related to or has a domestic relationship with the victim.
- The defendant is a public servant on duty at the time of the incident.
- The victim is a public servant who was on duty at the time of the incident.
- The victim was a witness to a crime, an informant, emergency service workers, or a security guard.
A public servant can include people working in all levels of government, such as elected officials, police officers, and firefighters.
If charged as a 1st-degree felony, the penalty can be from 5 to 99 years in prison and/or a fine of up to $10,000.
In addition to criminal penalties imposed by a court, an assault conviction can affect your life in many other ways. It can impact your financial life by hindering your ability to get a job, find housing, or get a car loan. It can affect custody arrangements for minor children and can lead to deportation or denial of citizenship if you are not a U.S. citizen. It can result in the loss of your right to own a firearm or serve on a jury.
If you’re facing assault charges in Houston Texas, contact Lisa Shapiro Strauss for experienced legal assistance.