Does Assault Require Proof Of Injury?
A common misconception is that assault requires proof of a physical injury. But if you read the specific language of the Texas Penal Code, you will find that is not always the case. Assault can be defined as the intentional, knowing, or reckless causing of “bodily injury” to another person. But it also covers intentional or knowing threats of imminent bodily injury. To give a simple example, if you raise your fists and take a swing at someone, you have committed assault even if the punch never connects.
Texas Man Receives 35-Year Sentence After Firing Shot at Police Officers
Another thing to keep in mind is that when an assault involves the use or exhibition of a deadly weapon, that is considered aggravated assault, which typically carries much more severe penalties than ordinary assault. Basically, if instead of swinging your fist at someone you fire a gun, that is aggravated assault–and once again, it does not matter if the bullet actually strikes them.
A recent decision from the Texas 14th District Court of Appeals, Pena v. State, demonstrates how serious Texas prosecutors take aggravated assault. Indeed, in this particular case the alleged victims were police officers. The case began when two Midland, Texas, two police officers responded to a 911 call from a residential address. The caller said he was locked inside his house and that another man was outside and threatening him with a gun.
When the officers arrived they saw a man–the defendant–on the porch of the residence. After the officers identified themselves, the defendant ran away. The officers chased him into the backyard of the house. At that point, shots were fired. Fortunately, nobody was hit. A subsequent investigation by the Texas Rangers concluded that one of the officers had fired two bullets from her service weapon and a third from a 3.80 Bersa handgun found near the defendant’s position when he was arrested.
Prosecutors subsequently charged the defendant with two counts of aggravated assault based on the belief the defendant had pointed his weapon and fired at both officers. A jury convicted the defendant on both counts. The court then sentenced the defendant to 35 years in prison.
On appeal, the defendant challenged the sufficiency of the evidence against him. The 14th District rejected this and other grounds for appeal and affirmed the defendant’s conviction. The appellate court noted the jury was free to believe the officers’ account of what happened–specifically, that he pointed and fired his gun at them. This was sufficient to support a charge of aggravated assault.
Speak with a Pearland Criminal Defense Attorney Today
Anytime a weapon–or a police officer–is involved in an alleged criminal act, you can bet that prosecutors will seek the maximum sentence possible, even for an assault where nobody was actually injured. That is why if you are facing such charges you need to work with an experienced Pearland criminal defense lawyer who can represent your interests. Contact the offices of Keith B. French, PLLC, today, to schedule a consultation.