So, you’re facing assault charges or domestic violence charges and you have questions. You are not alone. Many of those charged with assault are surprised, confused, and frustrated that it’s reached the point of a criminal charge. “That was over a year ago,” they say. The alleged victim told the prosecution not to press charges, and even filed an Affidavit of Non-Prosecution, so why are we here? And who knew a little scratch on the alleged victim was a Class A misdemeanor? Surely, the prosecution will dismiss the charge or give a very lenient plea deal. So, I don’t need an attorney…right?
These reactions to an assault charge are common. And they are full of misconceptions. I’ll address these misconceptions and why it is very important to hire a Smith County Criminal Defense Attorney to represent you.
Misconception 1: “Old” assaults aren’t chargeable.
Reuniting with the victim isn’t a defense. As a general rule, the State of Texas has two years from the incident to charge you for a misdemeanor. For a felony, they have three years, and sometimes much more. This means that you could be arrested for a crime and not get charged for years. In assault cases, this can lead to absurd situations where you can allegedly assault the victim and then live with them for years before being charged. While living with the victim can persuade the prosecution to be lenient, it isn’t a defense to assault.
Misconception 2: You won’t be charged if they don’t want to press charges.
Hollywood and police officers themselves have kept the myth alive that alleged victims can decide not to prosecute. They can have an opinion about whether the prosecution should charge you. But that’s it. The prosecution decides whether to prosecute.
Alleged victims can voice their opinions by filing an Affidavit of Non-Prosecution. This is a sworn statement explaining why the prosecution shouldn’t prosecute. Even if an assault occurred, the victim might have very good reasons for wanting charges dismissed. The assailant could provide financial support for the victim and their children. Jail would cut off this support line. The assailant might have made amends with the victim and developed a healthier relationship. Or it could be a simple as the victim has forgiven the assailant and wants to put the incident behind them.
Misconception 3: You don’t need an Attorney If the Victim Doesn’t Show up to Trial.
Many people think an assault charge will be dismissed if the alleged victim doesn’t show up to trial. While it is certainly possible, there is more to it than that. Prosecutors can compel the victim to testify through a subpoena or writ of attachment. Even if the alleged victim does not show, there could still be enough evidence to convict. Thus, the prosecution could still go to trial.
It is especially important to have an attorney in cases like this. They will have a better understanding of the admissible evidence and whether the victim’s testimony is necessary to the prosecution.
Misconception 4: No injury was caused, so it’s not a big deal.
While you can be charged for assault without causing injury, bodily injury is generally an element of assault. What does bodily injury mean? Basically: pain. That’s right. If you cause someone pain you could be charged for assault, even if there are no outward signs of assault, such as bruising.
Misconception 5: You don’t need to hire an attorney if you’re guilty
There are several problems with this statement. First of all, to be convicted of a crime, the prosecution must prove the elements of the crime beyond a reasonable doubt. Can they? With all due respect, an attorney is better qualified to answer this question than you. Second, even if an attorney thinks a conviction is likely, they probably can get you a better plea deal. They certainly stand a better chance of obtaining an acquittal at trial. Third, the evidence and your guilt or innocence isn’t the only factor that determines your fate.
Many factors could garner leniency from a prosecutor, judge or jury. Factors like your community involvement, your good deeds, your repentance, and lack of a prior criminal record. Further, in assault cases, the effects of a conviction can be wide-ranging and severe for your family. An attorney can appeal to these sentiments to get a better resolution for you and your family.