While being convicted of any crime carries a stigma, being convicted of a violent crime has special consequences. The punishment for these types of crimes tends to be harsher, and even after you have served your time, you may find that your punishment is not over. Educational institutions, employers, and even potential friends or romantic partners will often hesitate to interact with someone who has been labeled a violent criminal.
Texas law guarantees that all criminal defendants have the right to legal representation. Hiring an experienced attorney to represent you is one of the most important things you can do after you have been arrested. Prosecutors must prove that you committed the crime beyond a reasonable doubt, and a competent defense attorney will see to it that they meet this burden.
There are a variety of criminal charges that fall under the blanket description of violent crimes, and most of them have very specific characteristics that distinguish them from other similar charges. Some violent crime charges include:
- Assault and Battery
- Attempted Murder / Homicide
- Domestic Assault
- Domestic Battery
- Child Abuse
- Aggravated Robbery
- Sexual Assault (Rape)
- Sexual Battery
In the event that you have been accused of any of these crimes, it is important that you secure legal representation as soon as possible. These charges carry serious consequences, and time is often a critical component in gaining accurate evidence that can exonerate you in your case. Speaking with a skilled criminal defense lawyer that knows both sides of the Texas legal system can significantly improve your chances of getting your charges reduced or dropped altogether.
Houston Criminal Defense Attorney
Matt Horak has the experience and expertise to fight for you. Horak Law has represented countless Texans. He understands how being convicted of a violent crime can affect your life long after you have been released from prison. Mr. Horak will do everything possible to protect your future and fight for acquittal, or for a lesser sentence if you are convicted. If you have been accused of a violent crime in Harris or Montgomery County, call Horak Law today at (713) 225-8000.
Violent Crimes Information Center
- What is Assault and Battery?
- What is manslaughter?
- What is aggravated kidnapping?
- What is aggravated robbery?
- What is murder/capital murder?
- What kind of punishment might someone convicted of these crimes face?
Assault and Battery
What most people refer to as “assault and battery” is actually a single offense, assault, found in §22.01 of the Texas Penal Code. Under that section, a person commits assault if he:
- Intentionally, knowingly or recklessly causes bodily injury to another person (what would be referred to as “battery” under civil law)
- Intentionally or knowingly threatens another person with bodily harm (what would be referred to as “assault” under civil law)
- Intentionally or knowingly causes physical contact with another person that he knows the other person will regard that contact as offensive/provocative.
Assault includes causing bodily injury to your spouse or threatening your spouse. Assault may be either or a misdemeanor or a felony, depending on the reason for the assault, the relationship between the parties, and the circumstances surrounding the assault. It is very important that you discuss the details of your case openly with your attorney so that your attorney can assess what kind of charges you might be facing.
Manslaughter is a type of criminal homicide. Unlike murder, you do not have to intend that the victim die or even be seriously injured in order to be found guilty of manslaughter. Instead, the state must prove that you recklessly caused the death of the individual, either by act or by omission (failure to act under a legal duty to do so). The legal definition of manslaughter is found in Texas Penal Code §19.04.
Even if the act that caused the death was not reckless, it is still possible to be found guilty of criminal negligent homicide under Texas Penal Code §19.05. Negligence simply means that the act was not what a reasonable person would have done under the same circumstances. So if you act unreasonably and someone dies as a result, you may be criminally liable for your actions.
Although manslaughter and negligent homicide are less serious offenses than murder, they are still felonies. You should speak to an attorney immediately if you have been charged with either of these offenses. Your attorney can apprise you of your options and help you decide where to go from here.
Aggravated kidnapping is essentially “kidnapping plus”. In order to be convicted of an aggravated kidnapping, you must have kidnapped another person, PLUS committed some other act or did it in a way that the law sees as particularly dangerous or unlawful.
Under Texas Penal Code §20.04, a person commits aggravated kidnapping if he or she intentionally or knowingly abducts another person with the intent to:
- Hold him for ransom
- Use him as a hostage or human shield
- Facilitate a felony/flight from a felony
- Injure or sexually abuse him
- Terrorize him or another person OR
- Interfere with government/police functioning
It is also aggravated kidnapping if a person abducts another person and uses or brandishes a deadly weapon during the kidnapping.
As with all crimes, the government must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that each of these elements was fulfilled. The prosecution must show, beyond a reasonable doubt, that you intentionally or knowingly abducted another person for one of the above purposes or by using a deadly weapon. If the government can prove this, then you will be convicted of a first-degree felony.
However, if you released the victim safely, you may be convicted of a second-degree felony, which carries a less severe punishment. Whether and where you released the victim is something you should discuss with your attorney, along with all the other facts and circumstances of your case.
Aggravated robbery is essentially “robbery plus”. In order to be convicted of aggravated robbery, the state must prove, beyond a reasonable doubt, that you committed a robbery plus committed the act in a way that the law finds particularly egregious. Under §29.03, these aggravating factors include:
- Causing serious bodily injury to another person
- Using or exhibiting a deadly weapon
- Causing or threatening serious bodily injury to a person who is over 65 or disabled.
Aggravated robbery is a first-degree felony. If you have been charged with aggravated robbery or any other crime, you should contact a criminal defense attorney immediately.
Of all of the crimes that a defendant may be charged with, most would agree that murder or capital murder is the most serious. There are many homicide crimes in Texas, including manslaughter and criminally negligent homicide. What makes murder different is the element of intent.
Under Texas Penal Code §19.02, a person will be convicted of murder if he:
- Intentionally or knowingly causes the death of another person (intent to kill)
- Intends to cause serious injury which causes the death of the other person OR
- Causes the death of another person while committing a felony or fleeing from a felony (felony murder)
Capital murder is an even more serious form of murder. In order to be convicted of capital murder, the state must prove intent to kill, plus some other factor. For example, if the person who was killed was a peace officer or under 6 years of age, the defendant will be charged with capital murder. A full list of the acts comprising capital murder can be found in Texas Penal Code §19.03.
Prosecutors have the option of seeking the death penalty for capital murder.
If you have been charged with murder or capital murder, you should speak with an experienced criminal defense attorney immediately. You should openly discuss the facts and circumstances of your case with your attorney. Your attorney can apprise you of your options, which may include entering a plea of innocent, pleading guilty to a lesser charge, or arguing for a less severe punishment based on the circumstances of your case.
Possible Punishments for Violent Crimes
The punishments for violent crime vary widely, depending on the circumstances of the crime and the offender’s criminal history. Some common punishments include:
- Death (for capital murder)
- Court ordered counseling or anger management
- Community Service
- Fines or Restitution
Of course, the punishment for these kinds of crimes can last long after the offender is released from prison. A serious conviction could prevent you from enjoying educational or job opportunities far into the future. Those charged with serious crimes may have the option of seeking to have their criminal records expunged; however, that option is not available to everyone.
It is very important to speak with an attorney as soon as possible after you have been accused of a crime. Your attorney can assess your case, lay out your options, and help you understand and prepare for the possible consequences of a conviction.
Horak Law | Texas Violent Crimes Defense Attorney
Matt Horak is an experienced Houston, TX criminal defense attorney. He has helped many Texans fight their violent crime charges, and he has the knowledge and expertise to fight for you. Mr. Horak represents clients from Harris and Montgomery counties and the surrounding areas. If you have been arrested for a violent crime, call Horak Law today at (713) 225-8000 to discuss your case.