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Fort Worth Aggravated Assault Lawyer
Protecting Clients in Fort Worth and Tarrant County
You have been arrested or charged with Aggravated Assault, and now you are looking for the best criminal defense attorney. Fortunately, an attorney can often make a dramatic difference in an Aggravated Assault case if the lawyer works hard at the beginning of the case. You need to find an attorney for your aggravated assault charge that will start investigating and preparing your defense immediately.
In Texas, Aggravated Assault is a serious felony charge (Second or First Degree). If someone is convicted, they are facing a long term of incarceration in state prison, back-breaking parole terms and conditions, expensive fines, and likely disqualification for some housing, employment, and even child custody. If you have been charged with or accused of Aggravated Assault in Fort Worth, Arlington, North Richland Hills, or any other city in Tarrant County, then James Luster is here to help defend your case. Before James founded his own criminal defense law firm, he prosecuted cases (including aggravated assault) in the Tarrant County and Lubbock County District Attorney's’ Offices. His defense and prosecution experience includes hundreds (if not more than a thousand) of assault charges. These cases include allegations of: using a Deadly Weapons; making Threats of Death or Serious Bodily Injury; or causing Serious Bodily Injury. Violent crimes are harshly prosecuted in Tarrant County.
You need a trial lawyer, even if you do not want to go to trial. If the prosecutor knows your attorney does not often (or ever) take cases to trial, then the prosecutor knows they can push your lawyer around. If the prosecutor is pushing your lawyer around, then your lawyer is likely pushing you into taking a plea bargain that may not be in your best interest. The prosecutors in Tarrant and surrounding counties know James Luster is always ready to take the fight in front of a jury. No one is pushing James around, and James does not push his clients to plead out.
Facing aggravated assault charges means fighting off consequences that could change your life forever. Even if you have no criminal history, a first-time assault charge conviction can result in a lengthy prison term. You do not want to brave a fight against such serious allegations without a skilled criminal defense attorney fighting for you.
What is Aggravated Assault in Texas?
The charge is found in Texas Penal Code § 22.02 (Assaultive Offenses). Aggravated assault can be committed in two ways:
- Causing serious bodily injury to a person,
- Knowingly; or
- Threatening a person with imminent bodily injury with a deadly weapon,
- Intentionally; or
|Domestic Violence A deadly weapon is used during the assault AND the victim suffers serious bodily injury AND the victim is a family or household member OR someone the offender is or has dated or had an intimate relationship with.||First (1st) Degree Felony||Prison sentence for 5 to 99 years and a fine of up to $10,000.00|
|Assault BY a Public Servant Aggravated assault is committed by a public servant (e.g. state or county worker) acting in his official capacity.||First (1st) Degree Felony||Prison sentence for 5 to 99 years and a fine of up to $10,000.00|
|Assault ON a Public Servant The victim of the aggravated assault is someone is a public servant engaged in performance of his duties or the assault is committed in retaliation for the public servant performing his duties.||First (1st) Degree Felony||Prison sentence for 5 to 99 years and a fine of up to $10,000.00|
|Retaliation The aggravated assault is retaliation against someone that is a witness, informant, or a person who reported a crime.||First (1st) Degree Felony||Prison sentence for 5 to 99 years and a fine of up to $10,000.00|
|Assault on Security Officer The victim is a security officer engaged in performing his duties.||First (1st) Degree Felony||Prison sentence for 5 to 99 years and a fine of up to $10,000.00|
|Drive-By Shooting A person shoots a gun from a car at a house, building or another car with reckless disregard for whether the house, building or car is occupied or causes serious bodily injury to the victim.||First (1st) Degree Felony||Prison sentence for 5 to 99 years and a fine of up to $10,000.00|
|If the charge does not fit one of the specific descriptions listed above in this table, then the charge is a 2nd Degree Felony. A person shoots a gun from a car at a house, building or another car with reckless disregard for whether the house, building or car is occupied or causes serious bodily injury to the victim.||Second Degree Felony||Prison sentence for 2 to 20 years and a fine of up to $10,000.00|
Your Defense Against Assault Charges
Criminal defense attorney, James Luster, hits the ground running from the first day on your case. This means conducting an independent investigation into the charges against you. From this investigation, he fashions a persuasive case to present to the prosecutor and grand jury. Often, your chances of success against aggravated assault charges can be greatly increased by aggressive representation in the “Pre-indictment Phase.” Hard work in the beginning may result in having your case indicted as a misdemeanor or even “no-billed” (dismissed) by the grand jury.
If your case is indicted, the Pre-trial Phase begins and you are fighting for a dismissal to keep your record clean. Your lawyer’s investigation into the case and witnesses will continue throughout this phase. This phase also includes filing and litigating pre-trial motions. James’s aggressive approach to pre-trial motions sends the message to prosecutors that getting a conviction will not be easy. It also brings the opportunity for the judge in the case to make decisions about the possible evidence that would be presented at trial. Depending on some of these pretrial rulings, the prosecutor may decide that their aggravated assault case is not strong enough to proceed to trial.
If your case is not reduced or dropped, then the fight continues into trial. This is a time when having a battle-tested trial lawyer like James Luster is most important. Trial starts with the jury selections process. Through selecting a jury, your lawyer should skillfully seek the jurors that will relate to the defense of your aggravated assault charge. Arguments made to the jury and questions asked of witnesses should be carefully crafted to support your defense to the smallest detail. James battles to win your case and takes a “no prisoners” approach to fighting for you.
Self-Defense in Aggravated Assault Cases
You have the right to defend yourself. That right includes using or threatening deadly force when necessary. The right to self-defense is a deeply Texan and even human right. But just because you were within your rights to defend yourself does not mean the prosecutor will drop your aggravated assault charge. You must be able to develop a compelling defense that demonstrates your fear and the righteousness of your actions. As you can imagine, a lot of people commit use violence and then claim self-defense after the fact. This makes prosecutors, judges, and juries skeptical. That makes a well prepared defense all the more important.
Rarely is a criminal defense attorney able to develop an effective self-defense case from only relying on the evidence the prosecutor provides through the discovery process. This is why the independent investigation mentioned above is so critical. When your lawyer stands in front of a jury to tell your story he or she needs to have a factual and emotional understanding of your situation and your decision to defend yourself. Never can an attorney get this kind of understanding from merely reading papers in a file. James Luster and his investigators are eager and willing to put in the work needed to dig deep into your aggravated assault case. He doesn’t just know the law (HE DOES), just know the evidence (HE WILL), or have the experience (HE DOES). James will do what it takes to internalize your fight and bring that to a jury in a way they can relate and find you “not guilty” of aggravated assault.
Your right to self-defense is written into law (codified) in Chapter 9 of the Texas Penal Code. As mentioned, Aggravated Assault may stem from threats of violence or force. Under Texas law, you can justifiably (legally) threaten to use force anytime actually using force would be justified (legal). The justified use of force to protect yourself is what we call “self-defense,” and is limited to specific legal situations.
You can use force (violence) against someone to protect yourself from the other person’s use or attempted use of unlawful force (violence). You can only use as much force as reasonably necessary to protect yourself. So, for example, if someone punches you, you cannot then shove them off the roof of a 3 story building… In most cases, however, if you have done this, talk to a lawyer immediately. The questions of whether force (violence) is immediately necessary can seem difficult. Texas law outlines situations where your belief that the force was immediately necessary is “presumed” to be reasonable. “Presumed” generally means the law supposes it to be true without needing any proof.
These situations where reasonableness is presumed are:
- You knew or had reason to believe that the person you are defending yourself against unlawfully and with force entered (or attempted to enter) the your occupied habitation (home), vehicle, or place of work;
- You knew or had reason to believe that the person you are defending yourself against unlawfully and with force removed (or attempted to remove) you from your habitation (home), vehicle, or place of work;
- The person you were defending yourself against was committing or attempting to commit:
- Aggravated kidnapping;
- Sexual assault;
- Aggravated sexual assault;
- Robbery; or
- Aggravated robbery.
CAUTION: There are some situations you cannot claim self-defense if you are charged with Aggravated Assault. First, the law does not allow you to provoke a person and then use (or threaten to use) force or deadly force against them. Second, you cannot be in the process of committing any crime (other than a traffic violation) when you use force or deadly force.
The law also lays out specific instances when self-defense cannot be used in Aggravated Assault cases in Texas. Like, you cannot use force against someone if it is in response to “verbal provocation” alone. Meaning, you cannot assault someone just because of something they say. Also, there are stricter rules if the person you are defending yourself against is a peace officer (i.e. police officer, sheriff deputy). You cannot “consent to the exact force” used against you. This means you cannot agree to get into a fight of throwing punches then pull out a deadly weapon.
Now, if you have provoked someone, that does not mean your right to self-defense is completely lost. If you have provoked someone, you can still defend yourself if you abandon the encounter, or clearly communicates to the other person you intend to do so AND you reasonably believe you cannot safely abandon the encounter AND the other person continues or attempts to use unlawful force against you.
As you can see, self-defense in Aggravated Assault charges can be complex. This is a topic you need to speak with a criminal defense attorney about.
Assault with a Deadly Weapon
In Texas aggravated assault includes the commonly known charge of assault with a deadly weapon.
Under Chapter 1 of the Texas Penal Code, "Deadly weapon" means:
- a gun;
- anything designed, made, or adapted for to inflict death or serious bodily injury; or
- anything that, depending on how you use it, can cause death or serious bodily injury.
So, in Texas, Aggravated Assault can be charged when someone actually causes injury using a deadly weapon and when someone just threatens someone by showing them a deadly weapon. One of the frustrating things about this law is that practically anything can be considered a “deadly weapon.”
What makes the charge "aggravated"?
As mentioned in the section about assault with a deadly weapon, Texas law allows the government to charge someone with aggravated assault in several circumstances. Primarily, the “aggravating” factor is either causing serious bodily injury to someone or using or displaying a deadly weapon while threatening or hurting someone. However, not all aggravated assault charges are the same level of felony. Aggravated assault can be an enhanced form of Assault Family Violence. This happens when a person uses a deadly weapon and causes bodily injury to someone in their family or a romantic partner (past or present). These more serious domestic violence charges are First Degree Felonies.
Aside from family members, other classes of “victims” can increase an Aggravated Assault charge from a Second to a First Degree Felony. If someone threatens with a weapon or causes serious bodily injury to a “public servant” then the charge is a First Degree Felony. Drive-by shooting and other situations may be considered a First Degree Felony as well.