Austin Assault and Violent Offenses Lawyer
Violent crime in 2016 is prosecuted aggressively in the state of Texas. Typically violent offenses are at least a Class A Misdemeanor, which is the most serious type of misdemeanor. Many violent offenses are felonies, which are even more serious crimes.
Although in some cases a victim may wish the charges to be dropped, the victim's wishes are not controlling. The prosecuting attorney has the legal authority to press charges against the victim's wishes and may, upon occasion, subpoena the reluctant victim to testify even against her wishes. Nevertheless, as in all violent crimes, the wishes of the victim is an important consideration for the prosecuting attorney to consider.
The Law Offices of Sue Berkel does not handle sexual assault or deadly violence cases.
Types of Violent Crime Charges
Assault, also known as battery in Texas, is the simplest and most common type of violent offense. The offense if an individual knowingly or recklessly inflicts bodily injury on another person. The Texas Penal Code also states that intentional threats of immediate bodily injury will be treated the same as an actual assault. Penalties for assault are up to 1 year in jail and a fine of up to $4000 for simpler Class A Misdemeanor assault. The classification can be escalated to a 3rd Degree Felony if certain circumstances exist, so contact us for a consultation if you've been arrested for assault.
An aggravated assault is a violent crime involving a deadly weapon such as a knife or firearm. It is treated as a 2nd Degree Felony in Texas with mandatory prison sentence of between 2 and 20 years.
Injury to a Child, Elderly, or Disabled Person
This offense applies if injury is caused by purposeful action or by neglect to a disabled person or to someone younger than 15 or older than 64.
Abandoning or Endangering a Child
The charge of abandoning or endangering a child is not clearly defined, but instead refers to whether a "reasonable" adult would put a child in a similar situation, either intentionally or by an act of negligence. The law also states that adults who manufacture, possess, or use methamphetamine or other controlled substances in the presence of a child are committing this offense. All variations of this charge are felonies.
Deadly conduct is behavior reckless enough to put others at risk of serious bodily injury. It is classified as a Class A Misdemeanor unless it involves a firearm, at which point it is a 3rd Degree Felony.
A terroristic threat charge is best thought of as an act with the intention of causing public disruption and chaos. It can occur if an individual intentionally causes an emergency reaction or instills immediate fear of injury in others, such as by deceptively shouting "Fire!" in a crowded theater.
This charge begins as a Class B Misdemeanor but can be escalated to a Class A Misdemeanor if the act is committed against family members or a public servant, or if it disrupts the operations of public property or a vehicle like an airplane. Terroristic threats are felonies if they result in $1,500 of damage or if they target many people at once, public utilities, or a branch of government.
The offense of aiding suicide occurs when an individual intends to promote or assist in an act of suicide and is a Class C Misdemeanor. If a suicide attempt occurs and results in bodily injury or death, the charge is a State Jail Felony.
Tampering with Consumer Product
This charge involves altering or adding a foreign substance to a commercial product, such as a food or drug, which will be sold to the public or given as a gift. If the tampering makes it probable that it will cause bodily injury, then it's a 2nd Degree Felony violent offense. If it actually causes serious injury, it's a 1st Degree Felony. Threats to tamper with a product are treated as 3rd Degree Felonies.
Leaving a Child in a Vehicle
Individuals have committed the offense of leaving a child in a vehicle if the knowingly leave a child, 6 years old or younger, unattended by someone 14 years old or older. The child must be left in the vehicle for more than 5 minutes. This charge is a Class C Misdemeanor.
Consequences of a Violent Crime Conviction
|Charge||Typical Classification||Max Fine||Jail Time|
|Assault||Class A Misdemeanor||$4000||Max 1 year|
|Aggravated Assault||2nd Degree Felony||$10000||2—20 years|
|Injury to a Child, Elderly, or Disabled Person||2nd Degree Felony||$10000||2—20 years|
|Abandoning or Endangering a Child||State Jail Felony||$10000||180 days—2 years|
|Deadly Conduct||Class A Misdemeanor||$4000||Max 1 year|
|Terroristic Threat||Class B Misdemeanor||$2000||Max 180 days|
|Aiding Suicide||Class C Misdemeanor||$500||None|
|Tampering with Consumer Product||3rd Degree Felony||$10000||2—10 years|
|Leaving a Child in a Vehicle||Class C Misdemeanor||$500||None|
Loss of Job Opportunities
A very common question on job applications asks whether you have committed a felony of any kind. If you have, the application will either be rejected immediately, which is a common occurrence, or the employer will investigate the charge further. This can happen for Class A Misdemeanor charges as well. They will seek to determine whether your criminal background is compatible with the duties of the job. If you wish to avoid this situation, it is extremely important to hire a skilled and experience criminal defense attorney.
Stigma of Violent Offender
It goes without saying that one of the most serious consequences of a violent crime conviction is the stigma attached. Many people will treat you differently upon learning you have a violent offense on your criminal record.
What to Do about a Violent Crime Charge
If you are facing a violent crime charge in Austin, there are several things you should do immediately. First of all, you should extract yourself from the situation that led to physical confrontation or accusation, if possible.
Another thing you should do is avoid making statements to the police or a detective. If you are contacted by law enforcement, it is best to not discuss your criminal charge. It is common in violent crime cases for the police to take pictures documenting any injury and to obtain statements from the victim and any witnesses. You must not interfere with this investigation, but you can politely tell law enforcement that you wish to first speak with a lawyer, and they will be required by law to respect your decision.
Finally, you should immediately contact an attorney experienced with violent crime charges. Sue Berkel has over 25 years of experience with criminal law, and in the past was a prosecutor with the state of Texas. This means she has experience with both side of the criminal justice system, which can help in knowing what will happen in a trial for a particular violent offense. Contact us today for a free consultation on your violent crime charge.