When a person faces charges for assault, a variety of things happen. They can be taken into custody, or just given a ticket. It entirely depends on the scenario and the history of the defendant. However, if prosecuted, they will have to either plead guilty or not guilty and proceed with the court process. Charges may drop if the prosecutor decides not to press. If this happens, the case would close right then and there (again, this all determines on the situation).
However, family assault cases are different. Even if the defendant does not want to press charges, officers will still make an arrest if the other person has visible signs of abuse. Cases like family assault and violence have a lot of blurred lines, and it’s incredibly easy to cross them without knowing (especially in Harris County). Sometimes police let you off the hook with a warning, other times they’ll take you into jail and charge you with a felony. We’re here to help clarify some situations (and penalties).
If you’re charged with misdemeanor domestic violence, your bail may be relatively low. In fact, it may be as low as $500. With felony charges, bail will be substantially higher (of course). Some judges may post a $50,000 bail bond, and that could double if the victim was seriously injured. On top of that, if you violated a restraining order, bail could go $10,000 or $20,000 higher. On top of all of that, if you’re in Houston, the conditions surrounding your charge could take you any direction. Prospects of going to jail depend on factors like criminal history, nature of the crime, the mental state of the assailant, and the arrest itself.
Severity of Assault Charges
Generally speaking, a simple assault—resulting in no or minor injuries—can be a class A misdemeanor. However, this simple assault can be a third-degree felony if you assaulted:
- Someone you’re in a romantic relationship with
- A family member
- Or if you’ve had previous domestic violence convictions
Assaulting a public servant or attempting to inflict harm upon workers doing their job can also result in a felony charge. There isn’t a predictable outcome when it comes to assault, as the conditions surrounding the incident—and criminal history—decide what happens.
Family (Domestic) Violence
A family violence charge can be a felony, depending on a few factors. If the defendant has a prior family violence conviction on their record, they will definitely face a felony charge. Individuals will also face felony charges immediately, regardless of criminal history, if the victim was strangled in any way.
Any assault against a family member, household member, or a current/past dating partner is domestic violence, including:
- Intentionally, knowingly or recklessly causing bodily injury to another person
- Threatening another person with imminent bodily injury
- Intentionally causing physical contact with another that the offender knows the victim will find offensive
When it comes to domestic violence, you’ll go to jail even if the victim does not charge you. For example, if you’re yelling loudly and the neighbors call the police, they’ll check to see if anyone shows visible signs of violence such as ripped clothing, bruises, or black eyes. If that ends up being the case, you can guess what happens next (if we haven’t yet made it clear, you’ll be taken to jail).
Penalties range from a class C misdemeanor (which has a fine and up to 1 year in jail), to a first-degree felony. The latter charge carries a penalty of 5 to 99 years in prison, which also includes a fine of no more than $10,000. Unfortunately, not all assault cases—much less a felony case—include possibility of bail.
The primary factors influencing the penalty of the charge are:
- Victim’s relationship to the defendant
- Defendant’s past convictions for domestic violence, or lack thereof
- Whether suffocation or strangulation was involved
It’s worth mentioning that it doesn’t actually require the victim to be physically injured in any way to face assault charges. A mere verbal threat of assault—or offensive contact that doesn’t cause pain—can qualify as a class C assault. This is a fairly minor offense, equivalent to that of a traffic ticket. However, it can be charged and prosecuted as a third-degree felony if the defendant has a previous family violence conviction.
The conditions for getting a bail bond in these cases generally depend on the defendant. They must be eligible enough for a judge to post a bond while their case is pending. Agreeing to appear in court is always a condition of a bond, but there are often additional agreements in family assault cases—like staying away from the home and workplace of the victim.
While paying 10% of a total bond bails someone out of jail, not everyone arrested for assault is able to post bond. Sometimes, and especially if the assailant is particularly heinous, the judge will refuse to allow a bail bond to make sure they remain detained. To find an inmate or check if they’re eligible for bond, contact the Harris County Police Department. The sheriff’s office can give you additional information on specific inmates and bond amounts.
Let ABC Bail Bonds Help
If someone you know is arrested for assault, check and see if they’ve been informed of their bond status. Once you have this information, you can seek a bail bond to get them out of jail as soon as possible. If you find yourself in need of bail in Greater Houston and surrounding areas, contact ABC Bail Bonds for a quick release. Our bail bond agents are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. While most local court systems can take hours to process paperwork, we finish in a fraction of the time and can meet you at the jail in minutes. Contact us today to learn how we can help you with the bail bond process.