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What is Aggravated Assault in San Antonio, Texas?

Aggravated Assault

Aggravated assault in San Antonio is a variation of assault charges recognized in Texas. Other kinds of assault charges include simple assault, sexual assault, aggravated sexual assault, etc. Assault is defined in Title 5 and Chapter 22 of the Texas Penal Code as intentionally or knowingly:

  • Causing or threatening to cause bodily injury to another person
  • Making physical contact with another individual in a manner that is perceived as offensive or provocative.

The phrase "aggravated assault" refers to deliberate actions taken by the aggressor with the intent of instilling fear in the victim that they may be harmed. Essentially, it is assault, but with circumstances considered aggravating factors. An aggravating component, such as substantial bodily injury or the use of a dangerous weapon, must be present for an assault to be classified as ‘aggravated.’

Aggravating factors include:

  • Characteristics of the victim: If the victim of the assault is a minor, an elderly person, or a law enforcement officer, the offense will be classified and penalized as an aggravated assault.
  • The kind of weapon used: A crime may be classified as aggravated assault if the defendant used a dangerous weapon (such as a knife, gun) or any other item in a hostile and violent manner.
  • The location of the assault: Assaults may be considered aggravated if they occur on a school campus or at the victim's residence.
  • The severity of the inflicted injury: An offense might be elevated to aggravated assault if the victim was gravely hurt due to the perpetrator's acts.

For the past five years, aggravated assault has been the most common violent crime reported annually by the San Antonio Police Department. Through the Uniform Crime Reports, the police department logged 7067 aggravated assault cases in 2017. In 2018, they reported 6427 offenses, while in 2019, 7346 aggravated assault offenses were reported. Also, a total of 7860 aggravated assault offenses were reported in 2020, while 6436 have been reported so far in 2021.

Aggravated assault is a serious criminal charge with steep consequences, such as lengthy prison sentences and substantial fines. It is a second-degree felony with a maximum sentence of 20 years in jail and a fine of up to $10,000. The penalties will be increased if specific variables are present in the offense.  

What is Sexual Assault in San Antonio, Texas?

Sexual assault is another category of assault recognized in San Antonio. It is characterized by unwelcome, non-consensual sexual contact with another person. 

For an action to be charged as a sexual assault, the prosecution must establish that it occurred without the victim's consent and that it entailed contact or penetration of the mouth, anus, or sexual organ. Also, the victim's accusations must be supported by proof of physical force, threats of violence, coercion, or manipulation to prove lack of consent.

In this city, sexual assault is often referred to as "rape." It is a severe charge with long-term consequences. A sexual assault conviction could result in prison time, the necessity to register as a sex offender, hefty fines, and/or a negative stigma on the offender's work or personal connections. Being a registered sex offender can further complicate an offender’s life because it makes it difficult to find accommodation and even a job.

Sexual assault is a second-degree felony in San Antonio, Texas. If found guilty, the offender will face a penalty of 2 to 20 years in state prison, as well as a $10,000 fine. Although the crime is usually charged as a second-degree felony, it may be prosecuted as a first-degree felony if the victim was someone the actor was forbidden from marrying (Bigamy).

Aggravated Sexual Assault under Tex. Penal Code Ann. § 22.021.

If any of the following is true, a sexual assault charge can escalate into aggravated sexual assault:

  • The perpetrator caused substantial injury to the victim or attempted to kill them 
  • The perpetrator instilled fear in the victim that another person may be killed, harmed, kidnapped, or trafficked.
  • During the assault, the offender used or wielded a deadly weapon.
  • Two or more perpetrators assault the same individual at the same time.
  • The perpetrator used a date rape drug. This is any drug that incapacitates another person and makes them vulnerable to sexual assault.
  • The victim is under the age of 14, elderly, or handicapped.

Aggravated sexual assaults are punishable by up to 99 years in prison, with a minimum prison sentence of 25 years for aggravated sexual assaults involving children. Convicts might face fines of up to $10,000.

In 2019, the San Antonio Police Department reported 1630 aggravated assault cases. Since then, the number of sexual assault cases reported has steadily decreased. In 2020, the police department reported 1614 cases, and 877 cases reported so far in 2021.

What Happens When You Press Charges Against Someone for Assault in San Antonio, Texas?

In San Antonio, Texas, assault offenses are handled very harshly. As a result, state and local law enforcement officers and prosecutors will employ all available resources to prosecute these crimes. Nonetheless, the intensity of the accompanying punishments is determined by the severity of the charge.

Criminal defendants in San Antonio facing assault allegations have the right to be represented by a lawyer under the US Constitution's Sixth Amendment. This guarantees that the court conducts a fair trial where the defendant's rights are represented and defended. It is impossible to overestimate the necessity of hiring an experienced San Antonio assault attorney who will fight for a defendant's rights and freedoms.

An experienced attorney will be a great asset in defending a defendant accused of assault. 

Common defenses an assault allegation in San Antonio include:

  • Self-defense or defense of another person: According to Texas Penal Code 9.31, a person is justified in using force against another when and to the extent that the actor reasonably believes that the force is urgently necessary to protect them against the other person's use or attempted use of force or violence." As such, the accused can claim self-defense to have the charges dismissed or reduced. However, this defense is only applicable when the accused did not initiate the attack.
  • Defense of home or property: The right to self-defense encompasses the right to protect one's property as well. Using force, including lethal force, to defend one's property is protected by the state constitution. Regardless, the defense of property claim is similar in nature to self-defense claims in that the defendants must have a reasonable belief that their use of force is immediately necessary to protect their property from harm. It also has to be reasonable and not excessive in relation to the victim's actions.
  • Lack of intent: If the accused did not intend to commit the act or achieve the outcome they did, they might raise the defense of lack of intent. It should be noted. However, that lack of intent is not necessarily a complete defense because they could still be charged on the grounds that their actions were reckless.

Hence, providing evidence of self-defense, defense of people or property, or lack of intent can all lead to charges being dropped.

Can a Minor Be Charged with Assault in San Antonio

Yes, if the criminal conduct occurred on or after the child's tenth birthday, a minor can be charged with assault in San Antonio. Typically, because assault is considered delinquent behavior or conduct under the law, the minor will be formally charged. Under Family Code 51.03, "delinquent behavior" constitutes any activity (other than a traffic violation) that violates a state or federal criminal statute punishable by imprisonment or jail time.

The juvenile justice system in San Antonio can prosecute a minor offender if the offender is at least 10 years old and under the age of 17. However, once minors reach the age of 18, they are legally considered adults, and any criminal charges brought against them will be tried in juvenile court. This is also applicable if the minor is 14 years old or older and a fatal weapon was used in the crime.

The Texas Penal Code governs both adult and minor criminal offenses in general. However, the Juvenile Justice Code provides fundamental laws specific to the juvenile justice system, such as arrest procedures, hearings, and dispositions. As a result, the juvenile court system handles many of the same offenses that are prosecuted as crimes in the adult justice system, but juvenile processes are fundamentally different from criminal proceedings.

How Long Can You Go to Jail for Assault in San Antonio, Texas?

The penalty for a type of assault is determined by the harm alleged and other circumstances surrounding the charges. The severity of the injuries inflicted, the defendant's prior record and the age or occupation of the victim are some of the significant determinants. 

Regardless, the charges are usually either misdemeanors or felonies. Thus, the associated penalties include:

  • Misdemeanor assault charges can result in fines of up to $4,000 and one year in prison. This type of assault charge occurs when there are minor injuries, or the threat of injury occurred.
  • Penalties for felony offenses range from a $10,000 fine to a prison sentence ranging from 10 to 20 years.

Simple Assault vs Aggravated Assault in San Antonio, Texas

Simple assault is defined by Texas law as a deliberate or reckless action that results in bodily harm to another person. In San Antonio, simple assault might include scenarios in which there was no physical contact. Examples are:

  • Swinging and missing: This might constitute throwing a punch, for example. It involves scenarios where the defendant intended to cause physical harm to another person but failed to do so
  • Threatening to harm an individual: This could involve actions like waving one's fists at another person, making verbal threats, or any other conduct that could persuade someone of intended harm.

To be charged with a simple assault in San Antonio, the prosecution must establish that the defendant acted with intent, that the victim was reasonably afraid, and that harm was done.

On the other hand, aggravated assault constitutes physical contact that causes substantial injury to a victim or involves using a weapon. They are deliberate actions made by the aggressor to instill fear of imminent harm to another person.

In addition, simple assault convictions in San Antonio are normally misdemeanors. Aggravated assault is considered a second-degree felony. Simple assault is a class C misdemeanor if the defendant simply made threats, touched, or failed to cause pain. If the threats and shoving are directed at a sports official, it is a Class B misdemeanor, and if the victim feels pain, then it is a Class A misdemeanor.

Aggravated assault becomes a first-degree felony if the victim was a public servant, security guard, or criminal witness or if the incident was an act of domestic violence.

Furthermore, like aggravated assault, simple assault can become a third-degree felony if the state can prove that:

  • The defendant had a prior conviction(s) for domestic violence, and the assault was against a family member or romantic partner.
  • The defendant assaulted a government official or security worker for doing their job.