Serious Bodily Injury Evidence in Texas Aggravatted Assault Cases
Under Texas law the felony offense of aggravated assault may be proven in different ways depending on the facts of each case. When there is an injury involved in an assault prosecutors sometimes allege that the defendant caused “serious bodily injury” to the victim in order to try an prove that the assault is a felony. This happens most often in mutual combat situations such as bar fights. Often times the conflict may have been a one or two punch affair but if the loser of the fight suffered a broken bone or serious cut. The offense could change from a misdemeanor assault charge to a felony if the prosecutors believe that their victim suffered serious bodily injury.
The legal definition in the penal code for serious bodily injury is, ” bodily injury that creates a substantial risk of death or that causes death, serious permanent disfigurement, or protracted loss or impairment of the function of any bodily member or organ.” There are many court cases which have dealt with this specific issue and several convictions have been reversed because the prosecutors did not prove serious permanent disfigurement or protracted loss or impairment.
In one Texas case the conviction was reversed because the court found that even though the victim had been stabbed and there was a two inch scar the prosecution had not met there burden of proof on permanent disfigurement. In another case there had been testimony that the victim suffered fractured ribs and could not lift their arms above there heads for two weeks. In that Case the court ruled the State had not proven protracted loss or impairment.
Just because a victim has a cut or broken bone does not automatically mean the prosecutors can prove a felony aggravated assault. A criminal attorney should always carefully review all medical evidence, photos, and even consult experts when investigating aggravated assault charges. If the prosecutors can be persuaded that the serious bodily injury issue is a problem in their case they may be more inclined to reduce the charge to a misdemeanor. The criminal defense attorney on the case should also raise this issue at the grand jury proceedings to either attempt to get a “No Bill” in the case or a misdemeanor charge.