Texas Violent Crimes Attorney
The term “violent crime” encompasses murder and non-negligent manslaughter, sexual assault, robbery, aggravated robbery, and aggravated assault. More generally, violent crimes involve force or the threat of force. If you’ve been charged with a violent crime—whether under Texas law or federal law—the decisions you make regarding your legal representation will have significant consequences for you and your future. You need a highly experienced criminal defense attorney from Whalen Law Office to guide you through the legal process for the best outcome possible.
FBI statistics regarding violent crimes include:
- Across the United States in 2019, there were 1,203,808 violent crimes committed, which was a slight decrease from the prior year.
- These numbers translate into 366.7 violent crimes per every 100,000 inhabitants.
- About 68.2 percent of all reported violent crimes in 2019 were aggravated assaults, 22.3 percent were robbery offenses, 8.2 percent were rapes, and 1.4 percent were murders.
- Firearms were used in 73.7 percent of the murders in the United States.
Why You Should Choose a Criminal Defense Attorney from Whalen Law Office
You must take these charges very seriously if you have been charged with a violent crime. The lawyer you hire could make the difference between a guilty and a not-guilty verdict or between a harsh sentence and a much lighter sentence. The punishments for violent crimes in the state of Texas are severe; you could face many years in prison, life in prison, or even the death penalty. Many violent crimes can also be charged under federal laws. In particular, when there are aggravating factors, federal charges may apply. Any violent crime that includes terrorist behavior may also be prosecuted federally.
A violent crime charge can increase in severity from state to federal when there is clear intent to harm. These crimes could include armed robbery, bank robbery, carjacking, arson, the assassination of an official, assault with a deadly weapon, or killing a federal officer. Any time federal employees or officers are involved, charges like assault, aggravated assault, murder, and attempted murder can increase to federal charges. A strong criminal defense attorney from Whalen Law Offices with significant experience in federal charges for violent crimes is essential.
At the Whalen Law Office, we believe everyone accused of a violent crime—state or federal—deserves zealous, highly skilled legal representation. Attorneys James P. Whalen and Ryne T. Sandel, with their experienced legal team, understand every case is unique. Therefore, we never provide a “one size fits all” approach. We will work tirelessly for the best outcome for your violent crime charges, including:
- Exhaustively investigating the facts and circumstances surrounding your charges.
- Searching for any flaws and contradictions in the state’s account of your criminal offense
- Cross-examining witnesses and bringing in witnesses who will help prove your innocence
- Negotiating a plea bargain with the prosecutor when appropriate
- Bringing in expert witnesses who will testify in your favor
- Using our significant levels of experience to create the best legal strategy available for you
- Using our vast knowledge of relevant laws and precedents to challenge evidence
- Finding any problems associated with your arrest or any violations of your rights
When you choose Whalen Law Office, we will make sure you have a thorough understanding of the legal process you are facing and will discuss your options with you in a clear, easy-to-understand manner. You need a defense attorney you can trust that will always have your best interests at heart, and exactly that’s what you will get when you choose Whalen Law Office.
What is the Process for a Violent Crime Case?
There are many stages in the process of your criminal case after being charged with a violent crime. There will be an investigation that you may or may not be aware of, then an arrest where you will be charged with a criminal offense. You will be “booked” and placed into custody following your arrest. You will go before a judge who will determine whether they will hold you without bail, will be allowed bail, or will release you on your own recognizance.
Bail is sometimes granted immediately after booking, then revoked as more information comes in. The court will schedule your arraignment; the judge will read the charges against you, and you will enter a plea, either “guilty” or “not guilty.” Your bail will be reviewed, and the court will set dates for future proceedings.
Your attorney may have pre-trial motions to bring on your behalf or may defend motions brought by the prosecution. These pre-trial motions mean resolving issues and establishing what testimony and evidence will be admissible at trial. At your trial, your defense attorney will defend the allegations made by the prosecution and may bring in witnesses and experts to help build your case.
You may testify on your own behalf, or your attorney may determine it is better for you if you do not testify. The prosecutor must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that you committed the crime you are being charged with. Until the jury renders their decision, your attorney can negotiate a plea bargain or accept a plea bargain (with your approval) offered by the prosecution.
The jurors may find you not guilty of the offense or guilty. If you are found guilty, the judge will set a date for sentencing. Your attorney will present a case for leniency then the court will determine the appropriate punishment. A number of factors will go into this decision, including the severity of the crime, whether you have a prior criminal history, your own personal circumstances, and whether it is clear you feel remorseful for the crime.
Depending on what happened during your trial, your attorney may appeal the decision. Appeals are appropriate when there was an error made by the judge or an error in the sentencing. If the court of appeal finds this to be true, they may reverse the conviction and order that your case is retried. Because the legal process can be lengthy and difficult, it is even more important that you have a strong legal advocate in your corner.
What Are the Potential Penalties for Violent Crimes in Texas?
Assault can be charged when an individual intentionally, knowingly, or recklessly causes or threatens to cause bodily injury to another individual or knowingly or physically contacts another individual in a manner that could be perceived as offensive. Assault in Texas can be charged as a Class C, B, or A misdemeanor or a second or third-degree felony. Aggravated assault can be charged if serious bodily injury occurs or a deadly weapon is used in the assault.
The crime of murder involves intentionally or knowingly causing the death of another individual, causing the death of an individual when you intend to cause serious bodily injury, or causing the death of another person during the commission of a felony offense. Murder can be charged as a first or second-degree felony. Manslaughter is recklessly (but not intentionally) causing the death of another person and is a second-degree felony. Penalties in Texas include:
- A Class C misdemeanor assault conviction can result in a fine of up to $500
- A Class B misdemeanor assault conviction can result in up to 180 days in jail and/or a fine as large as $2,000
- A Class A misdemeanor assault conviction can result in a jail sentence of up to one year and/or a fine as large as $4,000
- A state felony offense conviction (burglary) can result in a sentence from 180 days to two years in jail.
- A third-degree felony conviction (kidnapping, unlawful restraint) can result in two to ten years in prison and a fine of not more than $10,000
- A second-degree felony offense conviction (manslaughter, murder, aggravated assault, sexual assault, habitation burglary) can result in 2-20 years in prison and a fine of up to $10,000
- A first-degree felony offense conviction (aggravated assault, murder, aggravated sexual assault) can result in 5-99 years in prison, life in prison, and a fine as large as $10,000
Federal criminal penalties are generally more severe. For federal charges of aggravated assault, if there was physical contact, the penalty is up to 10 years of imprisonment if there was no injury. If the bodily injury results, the penalty is a maximum of 20 years; if a serious bodily injury occurs, the maximum penalty is 30 years.
What Are the Most Common Defenses for Violent Crimes?
The defense your attorney will use for your violent crime charges will depend entirely on the circumstances and facts surrounding your charges and whether the charges are federal or state. That being said, the most common defenses for some violent crimes are listed below.
- Defense of others can be used when you are charged with assault. This means you used reasonable force to defend another person from an attack.
- Defense of property can be claimed when you use reasonable force against another individual to prevent them from entering your home or vehicle or from damaging your property.
- Justification means that you did commit the criminal offense but did so to prevent an injury.
- You did not have the required mental state to act knowingly, recklessly, or intentionally.
- You acted in self-defense.
Do You Really Need a Defense Attorney?
If you have been charged with a violent crime, you absolutely need an experienced criminal defense attorney to defend you. If you are aware that you are being investigated for a criminal offense, you may be able to avoid charges altogether by hiring an attorney before you have been charged. Your defense attorney will examine all the evidence, including physical evidence like DNA and fingerprints, statements from you and witnesses, photos and videos, and digital evidence from phones and other electronic devices.
A knowledgeable criminal defense attorney knows the best ways to protect your constitutional rights, preventing you from giving potentially damaging statements or other evidence to police. Choosing to go forward without legal representation and advice will almost certainly expose you to significant risk and end in a guilty verdict with the harshest penalties. Having a highly skilled criminal defense attorney means negotiations will be in play right from the beginning for a plea deal that charges you with a lesser crime or results in lesser penalties.
How Can a Criminal Defense Attorney from Whalen Law Office Help?
Choosing a criminal defense attorney from Whalen Law Office for violent crime charges ensures you will have the best, most experienced attorney to fight for your rights and future. We will spend as many hours as it takes to find any holes in the prosecutor’s case, presenting your version of events in the best light possible. At Whalen Law Office, we have the deepest respect and compassion for our clients, and our depth of knowledge in both state and federal law enables us to find opportunities in the most challenging situations. Contact Whalen Law Office today to get in touch regarding your charges for a violent crime. We are ready to help you through this difficult time.