Aggravated Assault

If you are charged with aggravated assault, it is vital to consult with a lawyer to discuss your charge and develop a gameplan. It is important early on in the process to get after your defense. Aggravated assault is a serious felony charge in Texas. The charged is "aggravated," and this just means that the potential penalties are enhanced. Aggravated assault is very similar to basic assault. However, aggravated assault has at least one added elements that results in a more serious criminal charge. Even basic assault is a crime that carries stiff penalties, and collateral consequences such as the loss of the right to own a firearm. The Texas Legislature has also made it difficult to take an assault arrest off of your record in some circumstances. This can be true even if you receive deferred adjudication. Aggravated assault occurs when there is an allegation of serious bodily injury or the use of a deadly weapon. These cases are pursued aggressively by law enforcement. It is essential that you consult a criminal defense attorney experienced handling all kinds of assault cases. 

What does Aggravated Assault Mean?

An assault takes place when a person causes bodily injury to another person, including that person’s spouse. An aggravated assault occurs when that person suffers serious bodily injury, or a deadly weapon is used in the assault. Although it’s more serious, aggravated assault is related to deadly conduct and terroristic threat. Aggravated assault is a second degree felony. This penalty carries a punishment range or between two and 20 years in prison, and a possible $10,000 fine.

It is first important to understand what assault is. This is because aggravated assault incorporates the basic assault statute, Texas Penal Code Section 22.01(a).    

Section. 22.01. Assault.

  • (a) A person commits an offense if the person:
  • (1) Intentionally, knowingly, or recklessly causes bodily injury to another, including the person’s spouse;

Bodily injury is the basic definition and most commonly charged assault. Bodily injury means pain. Assault bodily injury just means that the alleged victim was caused pain. Assault bodily injury is a Class A misdemeanor, meaning that a conviction carries a potential range of punishment of up to a year in jail and up to a $4,000 fine. But an “aggravated” assault charge carries more serious penalties than that. An assault becomes aggravated when one of two things happens: serious bodily injury is charged; or, there is an allegation that a deadly weapon was utilized in the assault. Here is the statute in the Texas Penal Code:

Section. 22.02. Aggravated Assault.

  • (a) A person commits an offense if the person commits assault as defined in Section 22.01 and the person:
  • (1) causes serious bodily injury to another, including the person’s spouse; or,
  • (2) uses or exhibits a deadly weapon during weapon during the commission of the assault     
  • (b) An offense under this section is a felony of the second degree, except that the offense is a felony of the first degree if:
  • (1) the actor uses a deadly weapon during the commission of the assault and causes serious bodily injury to a person whose relationship to or association with the defendant is described by [Chapter 71 of the Texas Family Code]   

What is Serious Bodily Injury?

Serious bodily injury is defined in the Texas Penal Code and revolves around injury that the risks death or permanent disfigurement. Here is the definition:

“Serious bodily injury” 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.  

The decision to charge serious bodily injury and aggravated assault is up to a Tarrant County prosecutor.  Aggravated assault must be indicted and presented to a grand jury. If the cases is indicted, the allegation of serious bodily injury must be stated in the indictment. Many times a victory in these cases can be reduced charges from aggravated assault to basic assault, thereby skirting the felony charge. Of course, there is no way to have an idea of what might be possible in your case without knowing the facts of your case. I’m happy to discuss your options and all avenues of your criminal defense.         

What is a Deadly Weapon?

Deadly weapons may encompass any object that can be utilized to cause serious bodily injury.

Deadly weapon can enhance an assault to an aggravated assault. When people hear the phrase “deadly weapon,” they usually think about a firearm or a gun. However, the Texas Penal Code broadly defines this term.

“Deadly weapon” means:

  • a firearm or anything manifestly designed, made, or adapted for the purpose of inflicting death or serious bodily injury; or
  • anything that in the manner of its use or intended use is capable of causing death or serious bodily injury

So anything that can be used to seriously hurt someone can be considered a deadly weapon. This might include a knife, a belt, a club, a bat, or many other items. Here are a few of the specifically listed items: explosive weapon, machine gun, knife, switchblade knife, knuckles, club, nightstick, mace, tomahawk, dagger, spear, and sword. What is and is not a deadly weapon can be ripe for a defense challenge. This is because of the vagueness of the term "use or intended use." This is often very much open to interpretation and divergent opinions. By this definition, almost every object can be employed as a deadly weapon if it is used the right way. Although it is not possible to say whether or not beating the deadly weapon allegation is a potential result in your case. But, if you have been charged with aggravated assault with a deadly weapon, it is important to hire a criminal defense lawyer who can dispute and challenge the deadly weapon finding.    

Aggravated Assault Can Be a First Degree Felony

Aggravated assault can be charged as a first degree felony if serious bodily injury occurs or a deadly weapon is used, and one of the following situations is also present:

  1. If a deadly weapon is used and the victim is a family member or household member
  2. It is committed by a public servant in their official capacity
  3. It is committed against a public servant in their official capacity and the offender knows that the victim is a public servant
  4. It is a retaliation for reporting a crime, or against a witness or prospective witness
  5. If the offender knows that the victim is a security officer while the officer is performing a duty as a security officer
  6. If the actor is in a motor vehicle and shoots a firearm in the direction of a house


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