The definition of an aggravated crime will vary from state to state, which is why many people wonder what it means when it’s used in the criminal justice system. Is there really a difference between a robbery and an aggravated robbery in Texas, and is one worse than the other? The simple answer to that question is “yes.” Aggravated crimes are more serious, so they’ll have more severe penalties. But to be charged with an aggravated crime, you had to something that made the offense more dangerous. Breaking into someone’s house will lead to a burglary charge, but doing it with a loaded gun in your possession will lead to an aggravated burglary charge (even if you never used the gun or threatened anyone after the break-in). In many cases, having a dangerous or deadly weapon in your possession when you committed the crime is enough for police or prosecutors to elevate the charge.
When a Crime is Considered “Aggravated” in the State of Texas
In the state of Texas, any crime can be “elevated” to a higher level of punishment if it’s classified as “aggravated.” According to the Texas Penal Code, any type of aggravated crime will involve one or more of the following:
- You intentionally, knowingly, or recklessly caused serious bodily injury to someone else.
- You used or displayed a weapon when you committed the crime (including the act of threatening someone else with serious bodily injury).
The Texas Penal Code also has a charge of “deadly conduct,” which is similar to an aggravated charge but with some differences. Instead of a special circumstance that elevates a less serious charge, deadly conduct is a crime in and of itself. And in the State of Texas, the crime of deadly conduct will involve one or more of the following:
- You recklessly endangered someone else or put him or her at risk of serious bodily injury.
- You knowingly fired a weapon at a dwelling, building, or vehicle with no regard for whether it was occupied.
In all of these scenarios, the term “serious bodily injury” is any type of injury that causes or puts someone at risk of death, permanent disfigurement, or loss of function in any part of the body. And the term “reckless” refers to any action that’s committed without any regard for the consequences or outcomes of that action. It does not, however, mean that the deliberate intention of harming someone is necessary. It simply refers to the deliberate disregard for the consequences of that action.
Crimes That Can Become Aggravated in the State of Texas
According to the Texas Penal Code, the term “aggravated” usually refers to an enhancement or special circumstance of the crime. And its purpose is to increase its level of punishment. Almost any type of crime can be enhanced by an “aggravated” charge, but there are some common ones that often get this classification. Some of them include but may not be limited to:
- Aggravated Assault — Simple assault is usually considered a misdemeanor, but aggravated assault in Texas is often considered a second degree felony. It can, however, go up to a first degree felony in some circumstances. This can include the aggravated assault of a family member or domestic partner, or the intimidation of a witness. It can also be considered a first degree felony if you committed the action against a child, someone over the age of 65, or a public official.
- Aggravated Sexual Assault — Aggravated sexual assault or aggravated sexual battery occurs when a weapon was used or unwanted sexual contact was forced with the threat of harm. And if it involved the act of penetration, it can be considered rape.
- Aggravated Robbery — Also called “armed robbery,” an aggravated robbery in Texas takes place if a weapon was used or displayed, involved the threat of bodily harm, or a threat to use a weapon was made.
- Deadly Misconduct — Deadly misconduct in Texas is often considered a Class A misdemeanor. But if you fired a weapon, it will be upgraded to a third degree felony.
Aggravated assault in Texas or any other crime with this type of classification can come with a longer jail or prison sentence, as well as a larger fine than if it occurred without this enhancement. If you have been arrested for a crime with an “aggravated” enhancement or any crime of deadly misconduct, you need to speak to a criminal defense attorney. And Gale Law Group has a team of qualified people who can come up with a solid defense.
If you’re looking for a criminal defense lawyer in Corpus Christi that will fight for you, get in touch with us today!