In Texas, assault typically falls into two categories: simple and aggravated. An aggravated assault is a more serious charge with more severe penalties, although simple assault can carry its own set of legal complications. You don’t even have to make physical contact to be accused of simple assault.
It’s not unusual for assault charges to be paired with other charges. However, claims of assault can often be unfounded, especially because of the provision for threat allegations being classified as an assault, making it important to understand state assault laws before your arrest grows into undue charges or conviction.
Fighting an assault charge
The first thing you should do if you’re being accused of assault is to hire an experienced attorney to represent you. You’ll need the legal expertise and advocacy on your side due to the broad definition of assault.
There are several defense options that your attorney can help you identify and utilize. These include:
- Self-defense: this is a very common defense to assault charges, since Texas provides protections for protecting yourself against a threat. The severity of your self-defense choices will be factored in; for example, while state laws don’t require you to first attempt to retreat, you can’t use more force than necessary to ward off the attacker.
- Defense of property or other people: Texas has “Stand Your Ground” laws that allow property owners to use force if there is an intrusion or threat to their home, vehicle, or land. You may also defend other people against attacks or threats. Again, the force used must be within what the law considers reasonable.
It’s important to note that in some cases, the best route is to try to have the charges lessened, while in other circumstances, the charges may be dropped altogether.
What happens if the accuser decides to drop the charges?
In cases where the plaintiff decides they’d like to drop the assault charges, the prosecutor can still pursue them. When that happens, your attorney will have to find ways to negotiate a reduced sentencing, or else petition for dropping the charges based on the plaintiff’s decision.
It’s best to have your charges dropped before you go to trial at all. That’s where an attorney can be of great help, since their expertise can help you find the best defenses and timing.