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Houston Assault Lawyer

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Houston Assault Lawyer
Houston Assault Lawyer

Assault Charge Defense Attorney in Houston, TX

Every state enforces different laws pertaining to “assault,” a legal term commonly conflated with “assault and battery.” Under Texas law, an assault occurs whenever one party threatens imminent harm to another party or when actual physical contact occurs.

It’s remarkably easy for an assault charge to be filed against someone. Oftentimes, warrants are issued after the fact, based on limited evidence and nothing more than another person’s version of events. Other times, arrests happen when police respond to the scene and make a rush to judgment about what happened. Even if you did physically engage with someone, your conduct might be justified under Texas law as self-defense, defense of a third person, or mutual combat.

If you or a loved one is charged with assault, a Houston assault lawyer is the best asset to have. You may need to prove that you acted in self-defense or were wrongfully accused. Depending on the details of the situation, Texas’ law of mutual combat may have applied. It’s also possible that you committed the offense in question and need representation through sentencing.

The Law Office of Joseph Ruiz, PLLC, has years of experience handling assault cases in the Houston, TX, area. Our firm provides close, personalized legal counsel to every client we represent, and we maintain a balanced caseload to ensure every client has full access to our resources and guidance. Attorney Joseph Ruiz can provide the ongoing support and counsel you need to approach your case more confidently.

Your Rights After Arrest in Houston, TX

Every American has two very important constitutional rights that come into play upon arrest for any criminal offense. First, the Fifth Amendment protects citizens from being forced to act as witnesses against themselves. In other words, you have the right to remain silent after arrest, and you should take full advantage of this right until you can speak to an attorney. Second, the Sixth Amendment preserves your right to legal counsel, even if you cannot afford to hire an attorney.

The criminal court can appoint a public defender to represent a defendant at no charge. However, if you are able to do so, connecting with a private Houston assault lawyer ensures more personalized legal counsel throughout your case and more attention from your legal team as your case unfolds.

After an arrest, remain silent and comply with the police officer’s directions until you can make your phone calls. Remember that even if you were wrongfully accused and want to explain yourself to try and avoid arrest, the police have no incentive to help you. Anything you say can easily be turned against you in later criminal court proceedings. Instead, reach out to an experienced Houston assault defense lawyer as soon as possible so they can begin working on your case.

Why You Need a Houston Assault Attorney

Working with a reliable defense lawyer can make a significant difference in the outcome of any criminal case. The criminal justice system of the U.S. upholds the standard of “innocent unless proven guilty.” While you should strive to exonerate yourself however possible if you are innocent of the charges against you, the burden of proving your guilt rests on the prosecution. The state must leverage evidence and testimony to establish a defendant’s guilt beyond any reasonable doubt, and the defendant must be convicted by a unanimous jury.

A prosecutor’s case can fall apart due to weak evidence or procedural errors, but you should be proactive in building your defense. If you were wrongfully accused, your attorney could potentially help you collect exculpatory evidence that contradicts your accuser’s allegations. Eyewitness testimony, video footage of the incident in question, and various other forms of evidence could come into play in your assault case.

Ultimately, every assault case is unique, and no defense lawyer can ever promise a specific result to any client. However, working with an experienced defense team significantly increases your chances of avoiding conviction. Depending on the details of your case, this may require gathering evidence, establishing an alibi, or highlighting errors made by the prosecution. The Law Office of Joseph Ruiz, PLLC, can help you develop a cohesive and comprehensive defense strategy to approach your case with confidence.

Potential Penalties for Assault Offenses in Texas

Like other U.S. states, Texas state law assigns different penalties to assault offenses based on the severity of these offenses. As a result, it’s possible for assault to qualify for misdemeanor or felony prosecution in Houston depending on the specific details of the case:

  • Assault is a Class C misdemeanor in Texas if the defendant made a threat of injury to another party or caused physical contact with another party in an offensive or confrontational manner. Penalties for Class C misdemeanor assault often include fines up to $500 and other penalties assigned at the judge’s discretion.
  • Assault qualifies as a Class B misdemeanor when the defendant commits an assault against another party participating in a sporting event, performance, or in retaliation for a performance. The defendant could face up to 180 days in county jail and fines up to $2,000 if convicted.
  • Class A misdemeanor status applies to assault if the defendant caused bodily injury to another party or caused physical contact in an offensive or aggressive manner against an elderly person. Defendants convicted of Class A misdemeanor assault face up to one year in county jail and a fine of up to $4,000.
  • Assault qualifies as a third-degree felony when the defendant commits an assault against a public servant, a party contracted by the government, a family member, a security officer, or an emergency services provider. Penalties for third-degree felony assault in Texas include up to 10 years in prison and fines up to $10,000.
  • Second-degree felony status applies when a defendant commits an assault involving strangulation or if they have previously been convicted of a felony assault. The penalties for second-degree felony assault in Texas often include up to 20 years in prison and fines up to $10,000.
  • First-degree felony designation applies to an assault in which the defendant committed an aggravated assault. “Aggravated” assault applies when the defendant used a weapon and/or caused severe bodily injury to the victim. The penalty for conviction of first-degree felony assault could be five years to life in prison, and the fine amount is determined by the judge.

It’s important to remember that the penalties for an assault conviction can extend beyond those specifically prescribed by the Texas Penal Code. For example, if the defendant injured the victim, they are liable for the victim’s civil damages, such as medical expenses, pain and suffering, lost income, and property damage. The judge overseeing their criminal sentence may also require them to pay restitution to the victim. In addition, the criminal record of a violent offense will interfere with job prospects and other practical concerns later in life.

If your assault charge qualifies as domestic violence, you face harsher penalties than those assigned to those convicted of standard assault offenses. For example, a parent convicted of domestic assault could lose custody and visitation rights, face long-term restraining orders, and various personal and professional consequences, such as losing any professional licenses they may have held. In addition, a restraining order could prevent them from living in certain areas, and they could be barred from holding certain jobs.

Finally, defendants must also know that their past criminal convictions influence sentencing for later charges. If you have a prior assault conviction or any other serious offense on your record and are charged a second time, the prosecution can upgrade a misdemeanor to the next highest class or a felony to the next highest degree. It’s also possible for your charges to escalate if you committed any other offenses pertaining to the situation in question, such as a drug offense, robbery, or sex offense. You need an experienced Houston assault lawyer who can carefully review the details of your case and determine your best legal options.

Defenses Against Assault and Battery Charges in Houston, TX

No matter the severity of the charges against you, it’s essential to have defense representation you can trust as you approach your criminal court proceedings. Texas has robust self-defense laws that often come into play in assault cases. When you choose the Law Office of Joseph Ruiz, PLLC, to represent your case, your Houston assault lawyer will help you explore all available defense options and guide you through your proceedings.

Assaults occur in many ways, often arising from disputes between individuals. If two people get into an argument that escalates to a fight, it’s possible that Texas’ mutual combat law applies to this situation. However, there are very strict rules for the mutual combat statute to apply. Texas is one of only two U.S. states that uphold mutual combat laws.

Self-defense is another commonly asserted justification defense against an assault charge. Texas upholds broad self-defense rights. The state recognizes a “Stand Your Ground” law, meaning you have no duty to retreat if another party threatens you. You have the legal right to use whatever level of force you deem necessary to neutralize the threat. If you intend to use self-defense to make your side of the case, you must be able to prove that you had a reasonable fear of imminent harm from the attacker and that you only used as much force as was necessary to stop the threat.

An experienced Houston assault defense attorney can help their clients determine whether Texas’ self-defense or mutual combat laws apply to their cases. If so, this could be the swiftest path to having a client’s criminal charges dropped. Other potential defenses could include mistaken identity or false accusations when these statutes do not apply. Ultimately, every assault case is unique, and the options available to the defendant fluctuate based on countless factors.

What to Expect From Your Houston Assault Lawyer

An experienced Houston assault defense attorney can help their client determine the best approach to their case. For example, if the client was wrongfully accused, the prosecution would likely fail to establish guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. However, the defense should still secure exonerating evidence that helps the defendant secure a case dismissal. It’s also possible for success with an assault case to rest on proving the defendant acted strictly in self-defense. Once proven to be true, the accuser would then potentially face prosecution for instigating the incident in question and lying to the police.

The Law Office of Joseph Ruiz, PLLC, does not use cookie-cutter defensive strategies for our clients. Instead, we take time to learn as much as possible about each client’s unique situation and leverage evidence and testimony as powerfully as possible on their behalf. If you were wrongfully accused of an offense you did not commit or only acted to defend yourself, we could help you prove the truth of the matter and avoid a wrongful conviction. If you did commit the offense in question, Joseph Ruiz could still potentially get your case dismissed.

Contact Our Houston Assault Lawyers Today

When you choose the Law Office of Joseph Ruiz, PLLC, to handle your assault defense, we will provide personalized counsel and support through every phase of your case. Our goal in every criminal case is to preserve our client’s rights and help them avoid conviction whenever possible. However, when a conviction is unavoidable, we work hard to find the best opportunities to reduce our clients’ penalties.

The sooner you engage a Houston assault charge defense lawyer, the stronger your defense will be. We’ve had a great deal of success in the courtroom, establishing defensive theories that subsequently led to acquittals by juries, and dismissals by prosecutors without the need for a trial. Contact the Law Office of Joseph Ruiz, PLLC, today and schedule a free consultation with an experienced Houston assault defense lawyer.

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