Fort Worth Assault Attorney
In 2018, there were just under 4,000 misdemeanor assault cases filed in Tarrant County, including 2,978 assault family violence cases and 881 simple assault cases. Of those cases, there were only 33 acquittals.
Despite these odds, our Fort Worth assault attorneys have very specific goals when it comes to assault charges in Texas:
1. Avoid jail time and a conviction;
2. Seek a resolution that allows for an expunction or nondisclosure of your record.
We've had over 100 felony and misdemeanor assault cases dismissed outright in Tarrant County. This page is full of information about the offense, possible defenses, and how affidavits of non-prosecution are treated in Tarrant County. Keep reading or give us a call at (817) 203-2220 for a free consultation.
What is assault bodily injury in Texas?
Intentionally, knowingly, or recklessly causing bodily injury to another person is considered "Assault Causing Bodily Injury" in Texas. This is often abbreviated as "ABI."
What is bodily injury?
According to the Texas Penal Code, "bodily injury" means physical pain, illness, or any impairment of physical condition. If a person alleges that they are hurt, no matter how slight, or received visible or non-visible injury, that is sufficient to establish bodily injury for purposes of filing an assault charge against you. Alleged victims simply claiming discomfort or annoyance will not establish bodily injury sufficient for you to be convicted of Assault Bodily Injury.
What does it mean to intentionally cause assault bodily injury?
You intentionally cause bodily injury to someone when it is your conscious objective or desire to engage in the conduct or cause the result with respect to the nature of your conduct or to a result of your conduct. Basically, you meant to hurt someone and you acted in a way that hurt someone.
What does it mean to knowingly cause assault bodily injury?
You knowingly cause bodily injury when you are aware of the nature of your conduct or that the circumstances exist with respect to the nature of your conduct or to circumstances surrounding your conduct. You act knowingly, or with knowledge, with respect to a result of your conduct when you are aware that your conduct is reasonably certain to cause the result. In other words, you knew what you were doing was going to hurt someone and you did it anyway.
What does it mean to recklessly cause bodily injury?
You recklessly cause bodily injury when you are aware of but consciously disregard a substantial and unjustifiable risk that the circumstances exist or the result will occur with respect to circumstances surrounding your conduct or the result of your conduct. The risk must be of such a nature and degree that its disregard constitutes a gross deviation from the standard of care that an ordinary person would exercise under all the circumstances as viewed from your standpoint. This means that you knew what you were doing was at risk of causing bodily injury, you disregarded the risk that a normal person would not, and did it anyway.
"I retained Benson for a felony assault family violence charge. As someone who has never been in any serious trouble before the process was very confusing and nerve wracking. Benson met with me and gave me all of my options, the good and the bad. I was especially impressed with their client portal and the very fast responses he always sent to my questions. Benson immediately went to work to draft a gameplan for my case. I only had to go to court one time and it lasted less than 30 minutes. My case was no billed by the grand jury. I don't think I would have had an outcome as favorable if it weren't for the sage representation of Varghese Summersett. If you are looking for an experienced attorney who will fight for you no matter how serious the charges, please go with Varghese Summersett!"
How is an assault bodily injury charge filed?
After a criminal investigation and arrest for assault bodily injury, your case will be forwarded to your local district attorney's office for review by a criminal prosecutor. Prosecutors can accept a case immediately upon intake, send the case back for additional information and then accept it at a later date, or reject it outright. If your case is accepted, you will be formally charged with Assault Bodily Injury and required to make an appearance in court, be represented by counsel (or go pro se) and dispose of your case. Before your first appearance, you will need to contact a criminal defense attorney to represent you before the court.
Are their legal defenses for assault bodily injury?
Just because you have been arrested and charged, does not mean you are guilty of assault bodily injury. There are numerous criminal defenses which could lead to your actual innocence of this offense: self-defense, defense of others, defense of property, duress, and necessity, to name a few. Consult with our attorneys to determine if the facts of your case meet the requirements for a legal defense.
What is the statute of limitations for assault bodily injury?
The statute of limitations for a misdemeanor charge in Texas is two years.
What is the punishment range for assault bodily injury?
Assault Bodily Injury is a Class A Misdemeanor punishable by up to one year in jail and up to a $4,000 fine. This punishment range can be enhanced depending upon prior convictions. Depending on your criminal history, you may also be eligible for probation. There are two types of probation: Straight Probation and Deferred Adjudication Probation. While these types of probations generally have the same conditions, they do not have the same consequences or exposure to jail time. You will need the best Fort Worth criminal attorneys to challenge any enhanced penalties, negotiate the best resolution and, when all else fails, fight your case in a jury trial.
Our Team of Fort Worth Criminal Attorneys
Each of our Fort Worth senior criminal attorneys previously served as Tarrant County prosecutors. Our team has tried over 550 jury trials and handled thousands of criminal cases. We are a unique firm in that we are truly a team. When you hire one us, you hire all of us. At Varghese Summersett PLLC, our combined experience, knowledge, and talent works together to reach the best outcome in your case.
We understand that clients who hire us are coming to us with the biggest problems in their lives. We treat their problems with the care and attention it deserves. We seek out the best outcomes by over-preparing, finding weaknesses in the State's case, through careful negotiations and, when necessary, trial.
All of our partners are former prosecutors. We not only know the State's playbook, in many cases we helped write it. We have over half a century of experience handling criminal cases, and we are ready to put our experience to work for you.
We know you have a lot of options to chose from. You probably got a couple dozen letters in the mail soliciting your business. You'll never get one from us. Instead, we hope our results and reviews speak for themselves.
Assault Family Violence Charges in Texas
Let's say you and your spouse have been together for years and have worked through almost every major relationship hiccup. Things that would tear other people apart, you work on and work through. You know each other almost better than you know yourselves, all the good and all the bad. But the flaws seem to grow over time and the volume of your disagreements get louder and louder. Alcohol or some other substance is introduced to dull the pain of the hurtful words but you find yourself yelling, engulfed in rage and unable to control your tongue. All you want is for things to change, for them to get better. Instead of getting better, the same mistakes are made and words turn physical. You don’t remember who started it, but you remember how it ended. The police show up knocking at your front door responding to a call of domestic violence. This is a scenario we have seen and heard all too often.
How does an assault family violence case get investigated?
After police are called, they will arrive and investigate any claims of assault. Typically, one of two things take place: If the officer feels that the physical claims were not egregious or exaggerated, they may ask one of the individuals in the home if they can leave and stay somewhere else for the evening. On the other hand, if one or both parties have visible injuries, appear to be afraid for their safety, or if there is obvious property damage from the altercation, someone will be arrested.
What happens if you're charged with Assault Bodily Injury Family Violence (ABI-FM)?
The haze only begins to wear off after you are questioned, photographed, and your loved one is ultimately carried away to jail. Now, there is a charge of Assault Causing Bodily Injury Involving Family Violence, often a $2,500 bond, and a court setting to appear in County Criminal Court Number One or County Criminal Court Number Five. You try to handle questions from detectives, interviews by prosecutors, and hundreds of solicitations from defense attorneys. At the end of the day, you have no idea what to do or how to do it. We know. We can help.
First, understand this: allegations of family violence are incredibly serious even at the lowest levels. While they can range from a Class C ticket all the way to a first-degree felony, punishable by up to a life sentence, they can also affect your family stability and immigration status. Everything you do and say from the point of initial police contact forward can and will be used to assist prosecution, not necessarily what is best for you or your family.
Second, an allegation of family violence does not define who you are or what your family prioritizes. Family violence allegations can be resolved in several different ways: no-file, dismissal, diversion program, deferred adjudication, probation, or jail time. The best of these options are only available if you act early. Contacting an attorney as soon as the police become involved can help protect your rights and ensure law enforcement gets all, not just bits and pieces of what happened.
Third, help is here. There are classes and counseling that can get your family safely back on track without jeopardizing the freedom or criminal record of a loved one. Anger management and courses teaching alternative conflict resolution can help everyone stop a problem before it starts.
Fourth, contrary to popular belief, an alleged victim contacting the prosecution and requesting the case be dropped, or stating alleged victim is not willing to cooperate is not sufficient to have the case dropped or dismissed. The case belongs to the State of Texas and not the alleged victim. Most often, the facts that led the officer to believe there was enough evidence for an arrest is the same evidence that will prevent the prosecution for dismissing the case outright. It takes experienced attorneys to navigate these waters and secure an outcome that potentially avoids a conviction, jail time, and allows for an expunction or nondisclosure in the future.
Who qualifies as a "family member" in assault family violence cases?
Although the word "family" generally implies someone you are related to, this is not the case for purposes of charging someone with assault family violence. For example, assault family violence may arise out of a past dating relationship with someone not living in your home. See below for a list of qualifying relationships:
- Individuals related by blood or marriage
- Individuals previously married
- Individuals currently or previously in a dating relationship
- Individuals who are parents of the same child
- Foster child or foster parent, regardless of whether or not they reside together
- Individuals sharing a residence, regardless of their relationship
Texas takes family violence very seriously and imposes additional punishments against those convicted, including taking away an individual’s right to own and use a firearm for a misdemeanor offense. Any kind of conviction involving family violence will stay on your record.
Can the alleged victim drop charges in a domestic violence or assault family violence case?
Assault Family Violence Charges happen more often that you think. It's not uncommon for an otherwise loving couple to get into an argument at a bar or argue over a sensitive topic and things somehow get out of hand. At times, alcohol is a factor, or perhaps the volatile situation stems from an emotionally-charged issue such as a sick family member or recent death. Harsh words at the wrong volume can quickly turn into the invasion of personal space which escalates to pushing and shoving, and in unfortunate circumstances, more damaging forms of physical contact. In the heat of the moment, one person typically realizes that tempers may have reached a point of no return, and they call the police. Afterward things may be clearer and an alleged victim no longer wants or needs the case prosecuted.
There are several possible offenses an individual can face after an alleged assault on a loved one has occurred. Charges range from Assault by Contact, which is a Class C Misdemeanor, to Assault Family Violence Charges – Impeding Breath, which is a third degree felony. In many instances, the time lapse between the heated argument and an initial appearance in court has allowed all involved parties time to cool and mend fences. It is not uncommon for alleged victims to want to “drop the case” and move forward with life and the defendant. If you find yourself in a situation where you are the named victim in an assault case, you should know that Tarrant County has a “No Drop” policy with regard to Assault Family Violence Charges.
What is the No Drop Policy for Assault Family Violence Cases?
For many years now, the Tarrant County District Attorney’s Office and the county Victim’s Assistance Unit has worked to provide assistance and a way of escape for those are involved in relationships with a pattern of domestic violence. The “No Drop” policy effectively means that an alleged victim cannot call the prosecutor and say, “Never mind, I’m not mad anymore” and have the case dismissed.
What is the Process to Request a Prosecutor Drop an Assault Family Violence Case?
If you are resolute in your desire to stop the case from going forward, you should be prepared to go through some obstacles. First, you will be required to have a scheduled interview with a member of the Victim’s Assistance Center. Victim’s Assistance is located on the 5th floor of the Tim Curry Criminal Justice Center at 401 W. Belknap Street in Fort Worth. The interview gives the caseworker an opportunity to assess the situation surrounding the arrest and the possible degree of danger for you.
What is the Alternatives Class at Safe Haven?
From that point, you will be referred to Safe Haven to take a course called “Alternatives” at Safe Haven. The point of this course is to ensure victims of domestic abuse are aware of options for help in our community. Upon successful completion of the course, the alleged victim can return to Victim’s Assistance to complete an Affidavit of NonProsecution or ANP.
What is an Affidavit of Non-Prosecution?
An Affidavit of Non-Prosecution does not say the case won’t be prosecuted. It is a sworn document that indicates the victim’s desire to not be involved and see the case closed. The particular weight a prosecutor gives to an ANP depends on a variety of factors. Some items that are likely considerations include the defendant’s criminal history, the extent of the victim’s injuries, and other extenuating factors such as whether there were children present during the incident or if the victim was pregnant. The effect of an ANP can range from a rare dismissal of a case, an offer for the defendant to plead to a reduced charge, or nothing at all – a mere additional hurdle for a prosecutor to overcome at trial. It’s important to note that as a victim you can and likely will still be required to appear in court as a witness. Prosecutors prefer that you come voluntarily, but they will issue a subpoena for your attendance if they feel it is warranted.
5 Quick Tips if You Are Accused of Assault
Do not talk to the police without an attorney.
This is the single-most important thing to remember when you are accused of an offense. Most people do not realize the police are allowed to lie to you. They can tell you anything to elicit a response. Do not respond to their questions, other than to provide them with your name and date of birth. Do not provide them with any information. Only tell them you would like to speak to an attorney. Do not waive your rights by speaking to them without representation.
Immediately contact an attorney.
Your attorney will be able to start gathering evidence, witness statements, forensic data, and protect your Constitutional rights.
Time is of the essence.
In the event you are charged with felony assault, the case must be presented to the grand jury before the case makes it to a felony court. In some instances, an experienced defense attorney may be able to obtain a No-Bill from the grand jury before the case ever gets to a felony court due to lack of evidence against you. Whether the case is a misdemeanor or a felony, your attorney will be able to begin the fact-finding process and bring scientific experts in to review the forensic and DNA evidence to make sure no stone is left unturned in your defense.
Do not contact the accuser.
Talk to your attorney about your case so he he or she can guide you through both what to expect during the investigation and the pendency of the case against you. This may be particularly difficult for charges arising out of an incident in your home. Make sure you follow all instructions and restrictions should you be subject to a restraining order.
Only talk to your attorney.
If you are arrested, do not talk to anyone besides your attorney about the allegation. Jail phone case are recorded and there is no such thing as a private communication inside the jail. While you are in custody, the only privacy that will be afforded to you is communication protected by the attorney-client privilege.
Statutory Defenses in Texas Criminal Law
Very professional team. They were eager to sit down and listen to me. This was my first offense and I was feeling so alone and confused. They responded very quickly and put my fears to rest. They handled everything for me so I could start focusing on moving forward with my life. The outcome was better than expected. They were with me the whole time, during the most difficult time in my life! I can't thank them enough for all they did for me!!!
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As former prosecutors, we know the best results go to the most proactive attorneys. Call us today at (817) 203-2220 or contact us online to find out how you can get started with our firm.