If you’re experiencing the stress of criminal allegations as high-stakes as allegations of assault, any additional component can have a huge effect on your case. Mixing a “deadly weapon” into the situation has critical consequences if convicted, which makes it that much more important to work with a criminal defense attorney with a comprehensive understanding of what constitutes a deadly weapon and whether or not it will hold up in court. In this post, we’ll explore the legal elements around assault with a deadly weapon.
Defining a Deadly Weapon
According to the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals, the only weapon that is always a deadly weapon is a firearm. However, in the real world, the definition can extend beyond just firearms and be left up to the creativity of the prosecuting attorney as “anything that in the manner of its use or intended use is capable of causing death or serious bodily injury.” In other words, if it could be perceived as dangerous, other objects, including seemingly innocuous items, can be considered deadly weapons under the right circumstances.
While preparing for trial, the prosecuting attorney will be creating a story that paints a picture of what happened, even if no actual weapon was involved. They’re trying to get the jury to visualize and empathize with the alleged victim and push for a guilty verdict. For example, if the defendant is large in stature, or was formerly in the military, the prosecutor may suggest that the defendant themselves or their fists or legs should be considered deadly weapons. In other cases, even factors completely outside of human control, like the weather, can be argued to be a deadly weapon, if the situation infers that the defendant was capable of exposing the alleged victim to harmful elements like extreme cold or heat. Not every narrative will stand up in court or support the prosecutor’s narrative, but understanding every angle will improve your chances of a positive outcome.
The Impact of Alleging a Deadly Weapon
When a deadly weapon is alleged in an assault case, the charges can escalate to a “3g offense” under Texas law. This classification is significant because it affects sentencing and parole eligibility. Those convicted of a 3g offense may be required to serve at least half of their sentence before becoming eligible for parole, which can greatly impact the outcome of a case.
So why would the prosecution attempt to include deadly weapon allegations that seem excessive or unnecessary? There are factors that go beyond any individual’s circumstances that influence the district attorney’s decision to elevate charges, and for the judges to accept the allegations in a court of law. Tough-on-crime policies that lead to aggressive legal tactics and sentences can potentially influence local elections. Being tough on crime is how prosecutors, and judges for that matter, get elected in Texas. Another consideration is that the prosecution feels that tacking on a deadly weapon charge will enhance their case in some way, such as giving them more negotiating leverage.
Whatever the reasoning, aggressive allegations require an equally zealous approach to defending an individual’s rights. Is there a way someone can meaningfully measure just how dangerous an object is before supposedly “wielding” it? How can we determine that a deadly weapon was used if there isn’t substantial enough evidence that the assault occurred, to begin with? It’s easy to get carried away with telling a colorful narrative, but when someone’s freedom is on the line, it’s about sticking to the facts.
Assault allegations can be extremely stressful, especially in conjunction with deadly weapon charges. You deserve a defense attorney who will see you as a person and work diligently on your case. If you or someone you love is facing assault charges, call the office of Ryan Brown Attorney at Law at (806) 372-5711 for guidance.
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