Is Threatening Someone With A Knife A Felony?
Criminal assault does not necessarily mean making physical contact with a victim. Indeed, the definition of assault under the Texas Penal Code includes “intentionally or knowingly threaten[ing] another with imminent bodily injury.” So merely threatening to strike someone in the face is assault even if no punch is ever thrown or makes contact.
To make matters more serious, if you use or exhibit a “deadly weapon” while threatening someone, Texas considers that aggravated assault. This is automatically a second-degree felony. In other words, if you brandish a knife or a gun at someone, you could be facing up to 20 years in prison.
Man Brandishing Knife Outside Wal-Mart Convicted on Two Counts of Aggravated Assault
A recent decision from the Texas Tenth District Court of Appeals, Metcalfe v. State, demonstrates how easily a situation can escalate into a felony aggravated assault case. The defendant here was shopping at a local Wal-Mart when he allegedly “grabbed the buttocks” of another customer. The victim yelled, prompting the defendant to leave the store.
Two other customers decided to pursue and confront the defendant. The first customer encountered the defendant. The defendant told him to “get away” and lifted his shirt to show his pursuer “something shiny in his waistband.” The first customer believed the shiny object to be a knife and decided to discontinue his pursuit.
While walking back to the store, he met up with the second customer, who was still in pursuit. The first customer advised the second customer that the defendant had a knife. The second customer decided to continue with his own pursuit.
When the second customer finally encountered the defendant, the defendant brandished his knife and threatened to retrieve a gun from his truck. The second customer then broke off his pursuit. Presumably, someone called the police, as the defendant was later arrested and charged with two counts of aggravated assault–one for each of the two customers who encountered the defendant.
A jury found the defendant guilty on both counts. The court sentenced him to 8 years for brandishing the knife at the second customer and 2 years for his encounter with the first customer. On appeal, the defendant argued there was insufficient evidence to support either conviction. Specifically, he maintained the prosecution failed to prove there was threat of “imminent” bodily injury to either customer, as required by the statute.
The Tenth District disagreed and affirmed the defendant’s convictions and sentence. The appellate court noted the law only requires proof of a “threat of present, rather than future harm.” The jury could rationally find that the defendant’s conduct created a “threat of present” harm to both men.
Contact Pearland Criminal Defense Attorney Keith B. French Today
It often surprises people to learn that making a threat–without carrying it out–can be charged as a felony. That is why if you are facing any type of criminal charge like the one described above, it is important to work with an experienced Pearland assault and battery lawyer who can advise you of the law–and your rights. Contact the offices of Keith B. French Law, PLLC, today to schedule a consultation with a member of our criminal defense team.