Crimes Of Violence: Murder, Homicide, Assaults And Prohibited Weapons
Violent crimes carry severe penalties. Many allegations begin with disputes among people that love each other, adding an emotionally charged element to the proceedings. Other cases involving the loss of life, or cases that result in serious bodily injury, were simply tragic accidents that are unintentional and unforeseeable.
It’s not unusual for a neighbor or other third party to “report something to the police,” and once an investigation starts there is no way for a civilian to simply “drop the charges.” There is nothing more complicated in criminal law than understanding how, so often, good people get charged with bad things, particularly so-called “assaults” involving members of a household.
There Is No Such Thing As Dropping The Charges
A common mistake that ordinary people have about “domestic violence” is that the accuser (spouse, girlfriend, relative, visitor, neighbor) has authority to “drop the charges” on request. Not true. Most District Attorney Offices have a zero-tolerance policy and will force the “victim” to testify, or will proceed with other evidence regardless of the so-called victim’s wishes or request.
Sometimes the charges are false. Sometimes they are mostly false and grossly exaggerated. Sometimes it’s an accident or mistake, and there was no “criminal intent.” Many defendants have a story to tell and can explain what really happened. Our job is to prepare and present the truth from our clients’ point of view.
The Impact Of Firearms On Penalties
Possession of firearms (and other weapons) often results in prosecution when the client truly believes that he is totally innocent. For example, other lawyers may have told a person that if they complete “probation” their criminal record is automatically expunged. Not true. A former felony probationer may be a “felon in possession” and prosecuted under several different statutes. The use of a weapon to commit a federal offense is punishable by an extra five years.
As conduct becomes more aggravated, the punishment increases. The Texas Penal Code ranks violent crimes as follows:
- Assault without weapon or injury
- Aggravated assault
- Attempted murder
- Family violence
- Assaults involving a member of the household
- Negligent homicide
- Involuntary manslaughter
- Voluntary manslaughter
- Capital murder
- Life without parole
- Death penalty
Firearms and prohibited weapons often increase the time a person must serve before release.