Assault on a Public Servant

In Texas, assault on a public servant is classified as a more severe assault charge. Texas Penal Code § 22.01 sets forth the law governing assaults, including assault on a public servant. Unlike other states, Texas does not distinguish between assault and battery. Specifically, both assault and battery are classified as assault charges. In Texas, someone may be liable for assault if they intentionally or knowingly cause bodily injury. Assault has also occurred when someone intentionally or knowingly causes physical contact with the reasonable knowledge that the contact will be regarded as offensive or provocative. Additionally, someone can be convicted of assault in Texas for intentionally or knowingly threatening imminent bodily injury. While it should be obvious, the Texas Penal Code specifies that assault can also be committed by one spouse against the other.

An assault, as described above, is a Class A misdemeanor. However, it can be enhanced to a third-degree felony if the victim is a public servant on lawful active duty or if the assault is done in retaliation of a public servant carrying out an official duty. This means that the crime can be punished much more severely.

Houston Assault on a Public Servant Lawyer

If you have been arrested for assault on a public servant, contact The Benken Law Firm. Defense lawyer Brian Benken at The Benken Law Firm has over 30 years of experience defending individuals charged with violent offenses. The sooner you have Mr. Benken working on your side, the more opportunities there will be to examine the evidence against you and formulate an effective defense strategy.

The Benken Law Firm serves clients throughout all parts of Harris County and surrounding counties including Houston, Pasadena, Houston Heights, Meyerland, and Bellaire. Your first consultation is free, so call (713) 223 - 4051 today.

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Misdemeanor Vs. Felony Assault

You can read about the penalties for different criminal convictions in Texas Penal Code § 12.01. A standard assault is punishable in Texas by up to $4,000 in fines and up to one year in jail. However, assaulting a public officer enhances assault charges to a third-degree felony. In Texas, a defendant convicted of a third-degree felony faces up to $10,000 in fines and 2 to 10 years in prison.

Being convicted of a misdemeanor can damage the quality of a defendant’s life in several aspects. However, all of these are amplified if the defendant is instead convicted of a felony. Most felons will need to complete significant probation after being released from prison. That means that even after a significant prison sentence, someone convicted of assault on a public servant in Texas may never truly feel free. Additionally, convicted felons lose the right to vote, run for public office, and own firearms. These rights are invaluable, and losing them can feel dehumanizing. If a defendant can convince the prosecution to pursue the charges as a misdemeanor instead, these rights won’t be at risk.

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Enhancements For Previous Felony Convictions

Assault on a public servant is a third-degree felony in Texas. However, Texas increases penalties for those convicted of prior felonies besides state jail felonies by one degree. Therefore, if someone in Texas has a prior felony conviction and is subsequently convicted of an assault on a public servant, he will be charged with a second-degree felony. The sentencing guidelines for a second-degree felony in Texas are up to $10,000 in fines and 2 to 20 years in prison. This shows the drastic difference between a first-time offense standard assault and a prior felony assault on a public servant. A Texas Class A misdemeanor doesn’t necessarily require jail time, while a prior felony assault on a public officer means a minimum of 2 years in jail with far more on the line.

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Assault On A Public Servant Defenses

When someone assaults a public servant in the line of duty, it is often simple for the government to obtain ample evidence without violating the defendant’s constitutional rights. While defenses based on violations like unreasonable searches and seizures or Miranda rights may not be as effective here, they aren’t impossible to utilize. A defense attorney with the right experience may be able to leverage evidence and Texas law to mitigate damage to the defendant.

One of the requirements for an assault on a public servant is that the defendant knew that the victim was a public official acting on official duty. Some public servants wear uniforms that make it clear that they are on the job or acting within their scope of employment. Others may wear more discreet apparel while working, and it may be reasonable to fail to identify them as public servants. If a defendant could successfully use this argument, it wouldn’t get assault charges dismissed entirely. However, it could lessen the charge to a mere assault rather than an assault against a public servant. This lowers the offense to a Class A misdemeanor from a third-degree felony.

A skillful defense attorney can argue that a defendant was merely reckless (not intentional) or that the defendant’s actions didn’t even meet the standard of recklessness. Anyone facing assault charges in Texas, whether a first-time or subsequent offense against a public officer or ordinary citizen, should seek out the advice and representation of a dedicated Texas defense attorney. There may be other defenses available based on a defendant’s unique circumstances.

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Additional Resources

Texas Penal Code § 22.01 – This section of assaultive offenses under the Texas Penal Code describes assault and how the charge can be enhanced if the victim is a public servant.

Texas Penal Code $ 12.01 – This plain language statute provided by the Texas Capitol defines the penalty guidelines for different levels of crimes in Texas

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Houston Assault on a Public Servant Lawyer | Harris County, TX

An assault of a public servant in Texas is a serious crime. If you’ve been arrested for assaulting a police officer or other public servant, you could be facing significant jail time, as well as significant fines. To tackle this legal challenge, its best to seek the help of an experienced criminal defense attorney.

Brian Benken at The Benken Law Firm is a skilled violent crime attorney in Houston who has successfully defended clients accused of all types of assault in Harris County. He can help you seek justice.

If you live in Houston, Spring, Humble, Pasadena, Cypress, Tomball, or any surrounding city in Harris County TX, call (713) 223 - 4051 to schedule a free consultation.

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(713) 223 - 4051
Benken Law