Attorney Paul Key
Over 20 Years of Experience


The most common arrest for assault in Texas is Assault Causing "Bodily Injury" to a Family Member, which is frequently just called "family violence." Bodily injury is defined essentially as "pain." If she said it hurt, or if the officer figures it must have hurt, then good enough, regardless of whether anything happened or why it happened, if it did. This is one of the more common arrests made, after drugs and DWI. This offense, too, seems to fall upon everyone alike, be they rich or poor, etc. It's not supposed to be this way anymore, but the bottom line is that when a couple gets into an argument or a fight, if the police come, they are very likely going to arrest someone and it's almost always him. Cops will tell you that they have to arrest someone if an allegation of assault is made. Of course, that is absurd, but it's true that that's exactly what they'll do. It's true in part because that is the easiest avenue for the officer: Just arrest someone, file a report repeating what you were told, and now it's someone else's problem. The officer will never get in trouble for arresting someone under these circumstances. That buck generally keeps getting passed until it winds up in a court and until you get someone to defend you. The prosecutor would really appreciate it, too, if you'd just go on and take his "good deal" and plead guilty. That way, he doesn't have to spend more than about 5 minutes dealing with your case.

I was the chief domestic violence prosecutor in Collin County for the last year-and-a-half that I was a prosecutor. I know these cases inside and out. Since being in private practice, I have handled over 130 assault cases as of 1/1/2011. Very, very few cases have ever resulted convictions. Of the few cases where a client of mine has been convicted of assault causing bodily injury, most of those were against my advice to take the case to trial. The bottom line is that it is a rare occasion where I would not urge a client to take an assault case to trial. The one exception is where the prosecutor has offered to reduce the charge from class-a assault to class-c assault and give the client deferred adjudication. Such an offer rarely occurs unless we've already set the case for trial, however. If an offer for a class-c deferred is made, however, I would rarely advise a client not to take it, and here's why: Any time a charge, assault or otherwise, is reduced to a class-c and deferred adjudication is given, then the client, assuming he successfully completes the deferred conditions (pay small fine and don't get in further trouble while on short, non-supervised probation), he is eligible to have the arrest and all aspects on the record associated with the arrest expunged from his records no different than if the charge were simply dismissed. In other words, a class-c deferred is like a flat out dismissal that you have to pay a small fine to get. This is completely different than getting deferred adjudication for a class-a assault. Class-a deferred for a family violence assault allegation is practically worthless and is pretty much the same as just a straight conviction. No, a class-c deferred is a win and rarely should it be turned down, though that decision will always be yours to make.

My minimum fee for an assault charge in Collin County, Texas is $2000.00.

Mr. Key, I've looked at the county website online, and I don't see but one or two cases where you've gotten assault cases acquitted, dismissed or reduced to class-c. Why is that?

That's exactly right, and here's why: All the other ones have been expunged! There is no more record. The only ones you'll see are ones where we're waiting for the applicable time period to pass (typically 2 years from offense date) before we can file for the expunction. There are a few who simply didn't want to get the expunction, but those cases are extremely rare and certainly against my advice.

Mr. Key, I'm a woman and, despite what you said up there, I got charged with assaulting my boyfriend. How did that happen?

You are definitely the exception to the rule, but I've represented a fair amount of women, too, for assault in Collin County, and I can only think of one that was convicted, and I begged her to take it to trial, but she was in jail and just wanted to get her back-time and be done with it. Don't worry. I'll defend you, too.