Aggravated Assault Defense Strategies: What You Need to Know
What are the aggravated assault defense strategies available in assault cases? Here’s what to know before your initial consultation with an attorney.
In 2019, the state of Texas reported 76,253 cases of aggravated assault, according to the FBI. That’s a 3.8% increase from the previous year.
While false accusations of aggravated assault may be rare, that doesn’t mean they don’t happen. People can be motivated to lie about an aggravated assault for many reasons — including, but not limited to, divorce and child custody cases.
If you’ve been accused, it’s important to establish a strong aggravated assault defense to avoid conviction and help clear your name.
Understanding Aggravated Assault
The Texas state penal code defines aggravated assault as an attack that causes serious bodily injury to another person. For the charge to be considered aggravated assault, the perpetrator must either use or exhibit a deadly weapon.
Aggravated assault is considered a second-degree felony, punishable by up 2-20 years in prison or a $10,000 fine.
However, the charge could be upgraded to a first-degree felony if:
- The aggravated assault was domestic in nature
- The perpetrator was a public servant representing their office or employer
- The victim was a public servant “lawfully discharging an official duty”
- The act was in retaliation to a public servant exercising official power
- The act was in retaliation to a witness, possible witness, informant, or reporter of the crime
- The act was committed against an on-duty security officer
Additionally, aggravated assault becomes a first-degree felony if the perpetrator was:
- In a motor vehicle, and
- Knowingly discharged a firearm at or in the direction of a building or other vehicle without regard to whether it was occupied, and
- Caused serious bodily injury
In 2019, Texas cleared less than 40% of all aggravated assault cases. This means that more than 60% of accusations did not lead to charges, whether due to insufficient evidence or a victim deciding not to press charges.
Building a Strong Aggravated Assault Defense
The first step to building a strong defense for aggravated assault is to hire the right attorney to represent your case. Representing yourself or sticking with a public defender may not ensure that you’re receiving the highest quality of attention.
Jail time and fines aren’t the only consequences of having a felony conviction on your record. Not only will a felony impact your career prospects, but it may also affect your ability to vote, serve on a jury, purchase a firearm, or even access certain social welfare programs.
Additionally, felonies are forever. This means it’s incredibly hard to get a felony expunged from your record unless you win an appeal on your case. The only other time a felony may be expunged is if a youth committed the crime and proved that they’ve since rehabilitated.
Felonies will appear in background searches and even internet searches for anyone to find. They can make it difficult to leave the country or to have a fair chance in divorce and child custody cases.
Fortunately, there are several strategies to defend your aggravated assault charge in court.
Challenging the Evidence
No matter what the charge is, one of the most foolproof ways of getting a criminal case dismissed is by challenging the evidence. Was your weapon obtained through an illegal search? Did the officer read you your Miranda Rights before you were arrested?
If your constitutional rights were violated during your arrest, any evidence obtained through that violation can be suppressed in court. But even if your rights weren’t violated, there are other ways to challenge the evidence, too.
The burden of proof is high for aggravated assault cases. This is because the prosecution has to convince a jury that you intended to commit the crime. Maybe it was an accident or maybe you were falsely accused.
You might argue that the injury would’ve occurred regardless of your actions, like if the victim was drunk or if you were in a crowded place together.
You could also question the cause of the injuries if you were falsely accused. Were the injuries self-inflicted? Can you provide evidence to prove it?
There are several things you’ll have to prove when arguing aggravated assault in self-defense.
For starters, your use of force can not exceed the use of force being committed against you. For example, you cannot shoot or stab someone just because they shoved you.
You also have to prove that the use of force was necessary to stop the victim’s use of unlawful force against you. If you provoked the attack or were engaged with another crime, your self-defense strategy won’t stand.
It also won’t work if your use of force was in response to a strictly verbal provocation, or if you provoked the attack and did not leave the encounter.
Keep in mind that self-defense also doesn’t apply to resisting an arrest that did not use excessive force — even if the arrest was unlawful.
Defense of Others
The argument of self-defense doesn’t just apply to you, either. There are a number of scenarios in which aggravated assault could be justified in defense of others.
Let’s say you see someone being beaten, robbed, or kidnapped. You commit aggravated assault against the perpetrator in order to protect the victim.
Your use of force must still be justified as though you were the victim of the crime. In other words, your use of force must remain proportionate to the situation. Again, you cannot shoot or stab someone just because you see them shoving another person.
Defense of Property
Texas follows the “Castle Doctrine.” This means your right to self-defense is highest when at home, work, or your vehicle.
You must have reason to believe that the victim of aggravated assault was either breaking and entering or unlawfully removing you from your home, workplace, or vehicle.
Additionally, the doctrine applies if you believe the victim was committing:
- Aggravated kidnapping
- Sexual assault
- Aggravated sexual assault
- Aggravated robbery
But keep in mind the “Castle Doctrine” does not apply if you provoked the victim or committed any other crime, except for a traffic offense.
Hire a Defense Attorney Today
Regardless of whether you were falsely accused, there’s no shortage of ways to establish a convincing aggravated assault defense.
Your defense could mean the difference between conviction and acquittal; imprisonment and freedom. This is why it’s imperative to hire the right attorney to review the details of your case and fight for the justice you deserve.
Contact us today for a no-obligation callback about your situation.