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A Guide to Aggravated Assault Charges in the State of Texas

The Law Firm of Andrea M. Kolski

Aggravated assault charges are not uncommon. More than 75,000 instances of aggravated assault occurred in Texas in 2019.

That’s more than 200 per day. There are a variety of incidents can lead to aggravated assault charges. You need to understand what the Texas laws mean in order to avoid trouble that could lead to major consequences.

What is aggravated assault? What are enhancements, and what are their criminal penalties? How can you and a criminal defense attorney mount a defense against your charges?

Read on to better understand aggravated assault in Texas and stay on the right side of the law.

Aggravated Assault Laws

First, you need to distinguish among the different types of assault. An assault involves intentionally or knowingly injuring someone else. An intentional threat of imminent pain also counts as assault.

Touching someone inappropriately or provocatively can constitute an assault. Tapping someone’s chest during an argument can count.

Section 22.02 of the Texas Penal Code defines aggravated assault in Texas. It occurs when a person commits an assault that results in a serious bodily injury. It also occurs when the assault involves a deadly weapon.

A serious bodily injury presents a risk of death or disfigurement. The victim may lose control over a part of their body, including their internal organs. Someone can get charged for aggravated assault if the person dies.

A deadly weapon is any object that poses an inherent danger to life. Examples of these are guns and knives.

Almost any object can become a deadly weapon if it was used to create a serious injury. For instance, a pen becomes a deadly weapon when someone tries to stab someone else in the heart with it.

Aggravated assault is a second-degree felony. It carries a minimum prison sentence of two years and a maximum sentence of 20. A convicted person may also pay a fine of up to 10,000 dollars.


Aggravated assault can receive enhancements which increase the level of punishment. If the aggravated assault involves dating or family violence, it becomes a first-degree felony offense. This carries a minimum sentence of five years and a maximum sentence of 99.

Assault on a public servant while they are in the line of duty is also an enhanced charge. This will count as aggravated assault, regardless of the degree of injury. Assault on a public servant carries first-degree felony weight.

Public servants consist of a wide range of employees of the city, county, state, and federal level. Politicians, firefighters, and teachers count. Actively serving jurors also count.

If a defendant assaults a witness in a case they are involved in, they can get charged with a first-degree offense. The same applies to assaults on informants or prospective witnesses. This is intended to protect our jurors and judicial system from threats or intimidation by a defendant or others.

Assaults involving motor vehicles carry first-degree weight. The car does not have to strike anyone. A drive-by shooting, for example, can lead to an aggravated assault charge.

Potential Defenses

Since the definition of aggravated assault can be subjective, people can find themselves charged without fully understanding the potential defenses. There are a few avenues you can take to defend yourself. It’s important to talk to a criminal defense lawyer about your case before making any moves that could hurt your chances.


With an alibi, you prove that you were not at the scene where the assault occurred. Depending on the accuracy and reliability of your alibi, this could be a strong defense. For instance, if you were at work and the alleged assault happened at home, you would need documentation or reports from co-workers of your whereabouts.

In order for an alibi to be valid, you need to find convincing evidence that shows you were elsewhere. Surveillance camera footage showing you in a different building is an example of compelling evidence. Defense lawyers can also use your browser history and cellphone data to prove your location.

Insignificant Injury

You can prove that the injury from the assault was insignificant. This can reduce the severity of your charges. You may not receive an acquittal, but you can avoid jail time.

An experienced defense lawyer will likely examine medical records and testimonies about the victim. For instance, if the victim claims they suffered a head injury but went to work the next day, that could prove the injury was insignificant.

Defense attorneys often use experts to support your defense. Getting a medical expert to testify on your behalf is one common strategy. A medical expert may provide details that show the injury was not serious or could have been caused by other means.

Lack of a Deadly Weapon

It’s possible you could argue the assault did not involve a deadly weapon. You can also demonstrate that the weapon was not capable of causing significant harm.

As with an insignificant injury defense, you need to look at medical records and the circumstances of the situation. In most scenarios, wielding a gun or knife has the potential to produce serious harm. Just because the victim didn’t sustain serious injury doesn’t mean a deadly weapon wasn’t present.

A good defense lawyer may point out that you don’t own a gun or knife. Additionally, not having a gun license may help your claim.

Lack of Intention

Perhaps prosecutors show that you were at the scene and caused an injury. This is a difficult situation but a good defense attorney may be able to prove you had no intention to harm.

This is a tricky defense. You definitely want an experienced criminal defense attorney on your side before you start making your case. You can get convicted if you took an action that injured someone without considering the consequences.

It is hard to assess what goes on in a person’s head without hearing from them. Your attorney may discuss your options and what is the best strategy. It’s possible that you caused an accident and that you regret your actions. But you’ll want an attorney to carefully communicate this to the court or prosecutors. Otherwise, you risk looking like someone who’s simply trying to save their own skin.


In Texas, citizens have the right to use force against someone else to protect themselves from imminent harm. Again, the circumstances surrounding the situation are crucial to proving this was the case. If you can provide your own medical records showing you sustained an injury, that may be good evidence you were in danger.

It’s likely you will need to explain fully when and how you engaged in the incident. Communication is key here and a good defense lawyer can shed light for the court for your case. In addition to your side of the story, they may bring up the other party’s criminal history or point to a pattern of aggressive behavior.

Get Help for Aggravated Assault Charges

Aggravated assault charges are difficult to defend but they are not hopeless. Remember that an assault involves causing or threatening someone with harm, whereas an aggravated assault creates serious harm or utilizes a deadly weapon.

Aggravated assault is typically a second-degree offense unless there are circumstances that involve enhanced criminal charges. It becomes a first-degree offense if a public servant gets hurt and if found guilty, the accused can go to jail for decades.

It is possible to get charges dropped, reduced, or even a full acquittal if you mount a solid defense. It’s extremely rare for an accused person to face these charges and prevail without an experienced defense attorney. There are a number of potential defenses such as an alibi that shows you were elsewhere, lack of intent, self-defense, or other strategies that can help your case. A skilled defense attorney can lay out the best course of action for your case.

Aggravated assault charges are nothing to take lightly. Don’t risk years in jail, thousands of dollars in fines, and potentially ruining your future. Get an experienced criminal defense attorney with a track record of success. The Law Office of Andrea M. Kolski has over 20 years experience with aggravated assault charges and has won countless victories for her clients. We serve the Montgomery county and Houston area and are here to help you with your case. Contact us today.

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