Kiele Linroth Pace, Attorney

Assault and Aggravated Assault

This page contains general answers to the most common questions about how assault and aggravated assault cases are handled Travis County, Texas. Assault charges involving family violence are handled differently and are discussed here.

This page contains only general information. Every case is different. If you have specific questions about your case, you should consult a criminal defense attorney. For a quote, call (512) 480-9020 or email inquiry@pacefirm.com .

What does assault mean?

In Texas, there are three ways a person can commit the crime of Assault. He can

  1. intentionally, knowingly, or recklessly cause bodily injury to another,
  2. intentionally or knowingly threaten another with imminent bodily injury, or
  3. intentionally or knowingly cause physical contact with another when he knows or should reasonably believe that the other will regard the contact as offensive or provocative.

What is aggravated assault?

In Texas, Aggravated Assault is when a person commits assault and he either:

  1. causes serious bodily injury to another, or
  2. uses or exhibits a deadly weapon during the commission of the assault.

What does "bodily injury" mean in an assault case?

You might think the term "bodily injury" would require some sort of visible injury like a cut or even a bruise but the legal definition includes mere physical pain. As a result, you can be charged with "Assault with Bodily Injury," a Class A Misdemeanor and jailable offense, if you are accused of merely slapping another person or pulling his or her hair.

The definition of "serious bodily injury" is more intuitive. It means bodily injury that "creates a substantial risk of death or that causes death, serious permanent disfigurement, or protracted loss or impairment of the function of any bodily member or organ."

Where will I go to court for an assault case?

All jailable offenses are assigned to courts located in the Blackwell/Thurman Criminal Justice Center (CJC), which is located at 509 West 11th Street, Austin TX 78701. Felony cases are assigned to the Travis County Criminal District Courts. Class A and B Misdemeanors are assigned to the Travis County Criminal County Courts at Law.

Class C Misdemeanors are assigned to the Austin Municipal Court, Austin Community Court, or one of the Travis County Justices of the Peace.

Do I have to testify at trial?

When you are charged with a criminal offense you have an absolute right under both the U.S. and Texas Constitutions to choose whether or not to testify. Your lawyer will give her opinion regarding how much your testimony will help or hurt your chances but you have the legal right to make your own decision.

Unlike most other types of criminal cases, when you are the alleged victim in a case of family violence assault that the government has brought against your husband or wife, traditional spousal immunity does not apply, which means that the government can force you to testify against your spouse at trial.

What is the penalty range for assault?

Depending on your prior criminal history and the specific facts alleged by the police, e.g., bodily injury, choking, deadly weapon , or other aggravating circumstances, an assault or aggravated assault case can be filed as a Class C misdemeanor on up to a 1st degree felony.

The punishment range on the low end of the spectrum is fine-only convictions or deferred disposition that can result in an expunction. Higher level misdemeanors can involve probation or time in the county jail, usually depending on the defendant's prior criminal history. Felony cases can also involve probation or prison time and the most severe felony cases can carry a maximum punishment range of life in prison.

What if the alleged victim wasn't really hurt?

Texas law does not require the alleged victim to sustain an actual injury in an assault case. Physical contact that merely causes pain can suffice for an assault with "bodily injury," which is a Class A Misdemeanor, punishable by up to 180 days in the county jail and a fine of up to $4,000 (note that a jail sentence may be probated, depending on various factors, in which case a defendant may not actually spend any time in jail).

Furthermore, a mere verbal threat or "offensive" physical contact can qualify as Class C Misdemeanor Assault under Texas law. This lesser assault is the equivalent of a traffic ticket.

Can the alleged victim drop the charges?

In Texas, the alleged victim of a criminal offense does not have the right to drop the charges. Only the prosecutor has that power. Prosecutors will usually consider the alleged victim's wishes when making a plea bargain offer but it is not uncommon for them to pursue a case over the objection of the alleged victim.

It is also not uncommon for an alleged victim who wants the charges dropped to ask the defendant's criminal defense attorney for assistance. I have worked with many alleged victims in these circumstances to prepare an "Affidavit of Non-Prosecution," which expresses his or her wish that the case be dismissed and, when appropriate, corrects the record regarding allegations that are inaccurate or untrue. Such affidavits can be very powerful tools and have frequently helped me to get cases thrown out.

If you are the alleged victim, you should be aware that a criminal defense attorney who is representing the defendant cannot legally represent your interests (even if you were the one who actually hired him or her). His or her duty is to represent the defendant's interests, which very well may conflict with yours. An ethical defense attorney will warn you if he or she determines that such a conflict exists but cannot give you legal advice. This is especially important to understand if you want to contradict a previous statement, which might result in criminal liability for perjury or filing a false report.

As a result, if you want to recant or change your story in a family violence case, you should consider hiring your own private lawyer with experience in the Travis County criminal justice system to advise you regarding the possible consequences and, if you choose to persist, to prepare an Affidavit of Non-Prosecution that accomplishes your goals while minimizing the risk of being charged with a crime.

How do assault charges appear on the docket?

Find your case on the docket and look on the last column on the right. Some of the most common Assault and Aggravated Assault charges are listed as:

  • ASSAULT AGAINST ELDERLY OR DISABLED
  • ASSAULT CAUSES BODILY INJ
  • ASSAULT CAUSES BODILY INJURY
  • ASSAULT ELDERLY/DISABLED
  • ASSAULT EMS PERSONNEL PROV SERV
  • ASSAULT ON SECURITY OFF
  • ASSAULT ON SECURITY OFFICER
  • ASSAULT PUBLIC SERVANT
  • ASSAULT W/PREV CONV
  • ASSAULT BY CONTACT
  • ASSAULT BY PHYSICAL CONTACT
  • ASSAULT BY THREAT
  • ATT /AGG ASSAULT CAUSES SBI
  • ATT/ASSAULT PUBLIC SERVANT
  • AGG ASSAULT AGAINST PB SERVANT
  • AGG ASSAULT AGAINST PUBLIC SERVANT
  • AGG ASSAULT AGAINST SECURITY OFFICE
  • AGG ASSAULT BY PUBLIC SERVANT
  • AGG ASSAULT BY/AGAINST PUB SERV/WIT
  • AGG ASSAULT CAUSES SERIOUS BODILY I
  • AGG ASSAULT W/DEADLY WEAPON

If the charge listed on the docket for your case is not in the list above it may have been be filed as a family violence assault or perhaps a violation of a protective order.

Kiele Pace is a Criminal Defense Attorney in Austin, Texas

I defend people accused of both felony and misdemeanor assault in Travis County. In these cases, it's especially important to have an excellent criminal defense attorney working to protect your rights and tell your side of the story from the very beginning.

The sooner I'm brought into a case, the more opportunities I'm likely to have to investigate the allegations and, if possible, get the case thrown out (sometimes before you ever have to appear in court), thereby avoiding a tremendous amount of stress and embarrassment without sacrificing your criminal record.

If you've been charged with assault, do not plead guilty without talking to a lawer. Please contact me immediately at (512) 480-9020 or inquiry@pacefirm.com for a confidential consultation to determine whether I can help you with your case.

I am an attorney who defends people accused of crimes in
Austin, Texas. For a quote, call (512) 480-9020 or email inquiry@pacefirm.com
Attorney Kiele L. Pace (Photo)
THE PACE LAW FIRM, P.C.
401 Congress Ave, Suite 1540
Austin, TX 78701

Phone: (512) 480-9020
Fax: (512) 682-9020
Email: inquiry@pacefirm.com

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Austin criminal defense attorney Kiele Pace defends people accused of crimes in Travis County, Texas.
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