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What is Aggravated Assault in Arlington, Texas?

Aggravated Assault

Aggravated assault in Arlington, Texas occurs when a person causes serious physical injury to another, including their spouse. The display or use of a deadly weapon in the course of committing an assault would also amount to aggravated assault in Arlington. Per the Texas Penal Code, deadly weapons include any object capable of causing death or serious bodily injury and used in such a manner. For example, firearms, brass knuckles, or even a rope.

This offense is usually charged as a second-degree felony and attracts up to 20 years in prison upon conviction. It can, however, be enhanced to a first-degree felony where it is committed on a family or household member, committed by or against a public officer on duty, or in retaliation on a witness in a criminal case.

In 2020, Arlington recorded a total of 1,516 aggravated assault cases. When compared to the statistics in 2017, aggravated assault increased considerably by 26%.

What is Sexual Assault in Arlington?

Sexual assault is a serious offense in Texas, and a conviction may attract severe penalties if convicted. Acts constituting sexual assault in Arlington include:

  • Coercive sexual acts
  • Sexual intercourse with a child below age 17
  • Nonconsensual sexual intercourse including penetration
  • Sexual abuse of a person that is not capable to give consent due to mental incapacity or a disability
  • Forcible and violent intercourse, penetration, or sexual contact, regardless of whether consent is given.

The law does not expressly describe what constitutes consent in the context of sexual relations, however, there is a lack of consent when the accused uses physical violence or threats of it to control the victim and when they are in a place of power or charged with taking care of the victim. For example, health care providers, clergy persons, and an employee of a nursing home the victim lives.  

Sexual assault is generally considered a second-degree felony and a conviction may attract a state-prison sentence, sex offender registration, and restrictions on employment and housing. Sexual assault is a first-degree felony offense if any of the following occurs:

  • The accused caused or attempts to cause serious bodily injury or death to the victim.
  • The accused put the victim in fear of  being killed, being kidnapped, or suffering serious physical injury
  • The actor used a deadly weapon.
  • They incapacitated the victim using date rape drugs like Rohypnol or ketamine
  • The victim is younger than 14 years old.
  • The victim is disabled or elderly.

Arlington Police Department recorded a total of 237 rape cases in the city in 2020. Compared to 2017, rape incidences in Arlington dropped by 7%.

Can a Minor Be Charged with Assault in Arlington?

In Arlington, children older than 10 years old and younger than 18 can be charged with assault, as juveniles, not as adults. The procedure of the court would be governed by the Texas Family Law. Juvenile proceedings are usually less formal and the penalties attached are usually geared at rehabilitating the child offender. Nonetheless, for serious offenses, the Juvenile Court can impose determinate penalties including punishments that extend over a long period of years. Likewise, a juvenile can be charged with assault as an adult where the case involves the use of a deadly weapon or causes serious bodily injury. Finally, children below age ten are considered to lack intent to commit a crime. As such, they cannot be charged for assault even as juveniles.

According to countywide juvenile crime statistics provided by the Tarrant County Juvenile Services, there were 202 aggravated assaults and 107 sexual assault offenses by juveniles in 2019 alone. When compared to the statistics of 2018, both sexual assault and aggravated assault were reduced by 2% and 5% respectively.  

What Happens When You Press Charges Against Someone for Assault in Arlington?

The state has the power to press charges or bring a formal charge against the accused in court. 

Charges for assault offenses in Arlington include:

  • Simple assault
  • Domestic violence 
  • Sexual assault 
  • Suicide assistance
  • Terroristic threats
  • Deadly conduct
  • Aggravated assault
  • Aggravated sexual assault
  • Consumer product tampering
  • Assault with a deadly weapon
  • Harassment in correctional facilities
  • Injury to a child, elderly person, or disabled individual.

Defending an assault charge requires the help of a qualified and competent attorney. The defense lawyer would ensure that relevant witnesses and evidence are admitted to the case. Likewise, the lawyer may employ applicable defense plans that may include presenting evidence in court that demonstrate:

  • Self-defense and defense of another: This is the act of using force or threatening force to defend oneself or another person who is in danger of being imminently harmed by the victim. For this defense to work, the accused must have had a justified reason for using force. As such if the accused provoked the other person into acting, a self-defense claim will not apply.
  • Defense of property:  Texas laws permit the use of force to protect one's property. However, the extent of the force used must be in proportion to the danger that the other party poses. 
  • Entrapment: This defense applies if the accused was induced by a law enforcement officer to commit the offense charged.
  • Lack of intent: the law requires criminal intent to commit an offense. As such, where it can be proven that the accused did not act intentionally due to a mistake of fact, involuntary intoxication, or mental illness, the charge may fail or be diminished.
  • Consent: an assault charge may fail where the defendant can establish that the complainant consented to the act. For example, physical contact during contact sports and consensual sexual relationships without violence.

How Long Can You go to Jail for Assault in Arlington?

Punishments attached to assault charges in Arlington typically depend on the seriousness of the act and the presence of aggravating circumstances such as display or use of weapons and assault against an elderly, child, or public officer. Assault offenses in Arlington are classified based on their respective punishments as:

Class C Misdemeanor Assault: such assaults are punishable with a fine of up to $500. It applies to: 

  • Simple assault
  • Assault committed in a disaster or evacuation area
  • Aiding suicide without causing suicide or serious bodily injury.

Class B Misdemeanor Assault is punishable with up to 180 days in jail, a fine of up to $2,000, or both. It applies to:

  • Assault against a sports participant by a non-participant
  • The terroristic threat by causing official or volunteer emergency response 
  • A terroristic threat by placing any person in fear of serious bodily injury.

Class A Misdemeanor Assault: attracts a-year jail term, a fine not exceeding $4,000, or both the fine and jail term. These punishments apply to:

  • Deadly conduct
  • Assault causing bodily injury
  • Assault involving offensive physical contact against an elderly or disabled individual
  • Terroristic threat involving family violence or committed against a public servant.

Third-Degree Felony Assault: is punished with two to ten years in prison which may include a fine of up to $10,000. Offenses under this category include: 

  • Threat to tamper with a consumer product
  • Harassment by persons in certain correctional facilities
  • Assault committed by a person with previous conviction
  • Injury to a child, elderly individual, or disabled individual
  • Abandoning or endangering a child without intent to return for the child.

Second-Degree Felony Assault: offenses under this category are punishable with 2 to 20 years of incarceration. It may also include a maximum fine of $10,000. Charged under this category include:

  • Sexual assault
  • Indecency with a child
  • Aggravated assault without enhancement
  • Tampering with consumer products without serious bodily injury
  • Assault by strangulation or suffocation or against a peace officer or judge
  • Abandoning or endangering a child,  including exposure to an imminent danger of death, bodily injury, physical or mental impairment. 

First-Degree Felony Assault: punishment for first-degree felony assault ranges from five years in prison to life imprisonment. The sentence may also include a fine of up to $10,000. Offenses under this classification include:

  • Aggravated sexual assault
  • Enhanced aggravated assault 
  • Tampering with a consumer product resulting in serious bodily injury
  • Sexual assault against a victim whom the actor was prohibited from marrying.

Simple Assault vs. Aggravated Assault in Arlington

The offenses of simple and aggravated assault have similar fundamental elements, but they can, however, be differentiated based on the seriousness of the act to the victim, the existence of enhancing circumstances, and the resulting punishment. 

With respect to the seriousness of the act to the victim, simple assault means that a person intentionally, knowingly, or recklessly causes bodily injury to another person, or threatens to do so. Simple assault does not necessarily entail physical contact and bodily injury caused to the victim does not need to be serious before it leads to a conviction. However, for a contact leading to injury to be considered aggravated assault, such bodily injury must have been severe. Meaning that it must have led to permanent disfigurement, death, or substantial risk of death. 

Furthermore, aggravated assault charges may result from circumstances like the display or use of weapons during an assault, assault by choking, and assault with a prior conviction. In contrast, simple assault charges do not usually involve such circumstances. As such the presence of such circumstances will automatically enhance a simple assault to aggravated assault.

Finally, simple assault is usually charged as a misdemeanor attracting punishments ranging from a fine of $500 only to a year jail term plus a fine of up to $4,000. Meanwhile, aggravated assault is a second-degree felony with penalties including two to 20 years in prison plus a fine of up to $10,000. The offense can be escalated to a first-degree felony with punishments that include up to life in prison if it includes domestic violence or a public servant on duty.