A conviction for assault with a deadly weapon can result in severe penalties, including lengthy jail or prison time and a large fine. Such a conviction can also adversely impact your future, such as by removing many educational, employment, housing and public assistance opportunities.
It is important to hire an experienced Harris County criminal defense lawyer because criminal charges for assault with a deadly weapon do not have to result in a conviction and the resulting lifelong consequences. In order to convict you, the state prosecutor must prove to a jury that you committed every element to the felony assault beyond a reasonable doubt. With an experienced trial lawyer defending you, this is a very difficult burden to meet, and any reasonable doubt in the mind of any of the members of the jury can result in a not guilty verdict or a hung jury. Therefore, it is vital to contact an experienced criminal attorney in Houston who will fight for you.
If you have been charged with the criminal offense of assault with a deadly weapon in Harris county (Houston), or any of the surrounding counties in Texas, including Montgomery (Conroe), Waller (Hempstead), Liberty (City of Liberty), Fort Bend (Richmond), Brazoria (Angleton), Galveston (City of Galveston) or Washington (Brenham), contact James G. Sullivan and Associates for a free consultation at (281) 546-6428 about your allegations of assault with a deadly weapon. Attorney James (Jim) Sullivan is an experienced trial lawyer who will fight for your rights, freedom and future.
Assault with a Deadly Weapon in Harris County
According to section 22.02 of the Texas Penal Code, an individual can be charged with assault with a deadly weapon if they use or exhibit a deadly weapon during the commission of an assault offense. In Texas, assault with a deadly weapon is also known as an aggravated assault.
As defined in Tex. Penal Code § 22.01, an individual can commit assault in Texas if they intentionally or knowingly cause or threaten to cause bodily injury to another person, or cause offensive physical contact to another person.
What is a Deadly Weapon in Texas?
According to case law, three things can qualify as deadly weapon:
- anything manifestly designed, made, or adapted for the purpose of inflicting death or serious bodily injury; or
- anything else that in the manner of its use or intended use is capable of causing death or serious bodily injury.
Examples of Deadly Weapons
There are not many deadly weapons listed as such per se. According to Section 46.01 of the Texas Penal Code, deadly weapons commonly used during the commission of aggravated assault offenses can include any of the following:
- Explosive weapons,
- Illegal Knife (such as a knife with a blade over five and one-half inches; a hand instrument designed to cut or stab another by being thrown; a dagger, including but not limited to a dirk, stiletto, and poniard; bowie knife; sword; or spear.)
- Machine gun,
- Short-barrel firearm,
- Switchblade knife
- Chemical dispensing device, and
- Zip gun.
Deadly by Manner and Means of Use
Furthermore, according to case law, there is an extensive list of things that can be proven to be deadly by the way the accused used them during the commission of the aggravated assault offense, including:
- Coke bottle
- Leg of a bar stool
- Ax handle
- Motor vehicle
- BB gun
- Wooden stick
- Dumpster in which a baby is discarded
Punishment for Assault with a Deadly Weapon in Harris County
Chapter 12 of the Texas Penal Code lists the felony punishment for assault with a deadly weapon in Houston. Assault with a deadly weapon is usually charged as aggravated assault, a second degree felony. A conviction for such a felony is punishable by a prison sentence ranging from two to 20 years and a fine up to $10,000.
However, assault with a deadly weapon can be charged as a first degree felony if the assault was committed against:
- a family member or significant other and causes that person serious bodily injury;
- a public servant while the public servant was discharging an official duty;
- a security officer while the officer is performing a duty as a security officer; or
- in retaliation against a witness, prospective witness, informant, or person who has reported the occurrence of a crime.
A conviction for a first degree felony is punishable by a prison sentence ranging from five to 99 years or life in prison and a fine up to $10,000.
Criminal charges for assault with a deadly weapon can also result in a first degree felony conviction if the accused is:
- in a motor vehicle,
- knowingly discharges a firearm at or in the direction of a habitation, building or vehicle,
- is reckless as to whether the habitation, building or vehicle is occupied,
- and causes serious bodily injury to any person.
The punishment for this offense is also a prison sentence ranging from five to 99 years or life in prison and a fine up to $10,000.
Defenses to Assault with a Deadly Weapon in Harris County
Occasionally, and in certain circumstances, there may be legal defenses available to assault with a deadly weapon charges. It is important to discuss with an experienced Harris County criminal defense attorney the elements of your criminal charges as that attorney can evaluate your case and advise you as to any appropriate defense.
- Self-Defense. According to Section 9.31 of the Texas Penal Code, a person is permitted to use force, and sometimes deadly force, against the immediate threat of injury or bodily harm.
- Lack of a Deadly Weapon. If your criminal defense attorney can show that a deadly weapon was not present, used or exhibited during the commission of the assault offense, the state prosecutor may reduce or dismiss the assault with a deadly weapon charges against you.
- Lack of Intent. Intent is a required culpable mental state to all assault offenses. If your criminal defense lawyer can demonstrate that you did not have the requisite intent to commit assault, the state prosecutor may reduce or dismiss the assault with a deadly weapon charges against you.
If you are accused of assault with a deadly weapon, you should contact an experienced criminal defense attorney right away because he may be able to win your case at the grand jury. Once your felony case has been indicted by the grand jury, this option is no longer available. Attorney James Sullivan has fought and won over 20 felony cases at the grand jury level in just the past few years. When a case is dismissed (no billed) by the grand jury, the accused has the immediate right to seek an expunction of the felony charge from their record. Sullivan has been able to do this for many of his clients accused of felony offenses.
James G. Sullivan and Associates | Harris County Assault with a Deadly Weapon Attorney
Contact James G. Sullivan and Associates at (281) 546-6428 for a free initial consultation about your assault with a deadly weapon charges in counties throughout southeast Texas, including Harris, Montgomery, Waller, Liberty, Fort Bend, Brazoria, Galveston and Washington. Attorney James Sullivan is an experienced Harris County violent crime attorney who will fight for your rights, freedom and future.