Aggravated Assault Arrests in Dallas: Violent Crime is Up in 2016
Last week, the Dallas City Council heard the latest crime stats from the Dallas Police Department (DPD) as part of the lawmakers’ job to set up and approve the city’s operating budget for next year. How much of Dallas’ coffers should be spent on fighting crime? More than last year, apparently.
According to the report given by the Dallas Police to the City Council, crime in our part of the state is flourishing. Consider the following (covering the time period January 1, 2016, to August 17, 2016):
1. Murder is already up 24.7% in 2016.
2. Assaults are up 17.68% so far this year.
3. Robbery is up 10.80% compared to the same time period in 2015.
4. Overall crime has increased by 2.5% since the beginning of the year.
5. There have been 6030 reports of violent crime recorded by the DPD in 2016 as of August 17th.
The initial reaction to this news? Looks like there will be money to support adding more manpower to the DPD. Specifically, financing an increase to the Dallas Police Force of 546 police officers, which would add 200 new officers to their ranks and replace the 346 police officers who have left, or who are expected to leave, the DPD this year.
For more details, read the coverage provided by Ken Kalthoff in his August 22, 2016 reporting for NBCDFW.com, “Dallas Crime Up, Response Time Slower, Manpower Shrinks.”
We’ll hear lots of talk about how this money should be spent, and we’ll probably hear lots of discussion on that statistic on murder jumping up almost 25% this year. That’s huge, granted.
However, one of the big things that people need to consider here are not the homicides but the other kinds of violent crimes that take place every day here in North Texas. People get violent, or they threaten to get violent, and that is against the law here in Texas.
Assault Charges are Crimes of Violence or Threat of Violence
It’s also against the law in other states, of course. Example: this afternoon, singer Chris Brown is fighting some serious charges of allegedly threatening a woman with a handgun over in Los Angeles. That’s going to be a possible assault charge under California law. (Note that Chris Brown was wise to call his lawyer, Mark Garagos, before talking with the police. Smart move, calling your lawyer asap, as explained in our earlier post.)
For more examples of various ways that someone can be charged with assault, check out the Texas Observer’s online collection of photos and videos of crime published as “The Year So Far in Dallas Crime,” and “Crazy Dallas Crimes in 2016.” Not all of these examples are possible assault charges, but lots of them may well end up with an assault arrest.
Here’s the thing. Assault charges can be based on most anything. It’s wrong to assume that someone has to use a gun or knife to be at risk of arrest for assault. Consider the following:
1. Throwing Rocks Off Highway Overpass – Aggravated Assault Arrest
Last April, a man was arrested here in Dallas for “aggravated assault with a deadly weapon,” after he was caught throwing rocks at cars driving along I-30 from his vantage point on the overpass above the interstate.
2. Corn Dog – Aggravated Assault Arrest
A few months back, over in Carrollton, a woman was arrested for aggravated assault with a deadly weapon after she threatened store employees with a cooked corn dog that allegedly had a metal knife or prong or something inside it — apparently, she was angry after she was given a microwaved corn dog and she didn’t want one that had been heated in a microwave.
3. Cars as Weapons – Aggravated Assault Arrest
It’s not that uncommon to hear of people who get angry and decide to use their vehicle as a means of venting their anger or frustration. For instance, there was the recent case over in Arlington where a man was charged with being drunk (DWI) along with using his car as a weapon when he hit the gas and floored it, ramming the police officer’s patrol car in the process. That ended up with the driver being charged with aggravated assault on a public servant. (There’s video of this incident in the CBSDFW.com news coverage.)
4. Fists – Aggravated Assault Arrest
Finally, there’s the traditional fist fight that ends up with someone being arrested and taken to jail by the police. A recent case involved an early morning incident at a Dallas convenience store. It was around 5:30 on a Sunday morning when a local woman needed to run to the corner 7-11 and grab some milk for breakfast. While she was there, a man was asking customers for money and when he approached her, she told him to keep away — and he apparently got really angry, because he punched her in the nose. Her friend called the police, and he was arrested on assault charges.
Different Kinds of Charges: Aggravated Assault, Felony Assault, and Misdemeanor Assault
There’s all sorts of ways that you can be arrested on an assault charge here in Texas. Just like there are all sorts of scenarios that can form the basis of an assault arrest (from a corn dog to a car), there are several different laws on the books to deal with violent behavior or the threat of violence.
Under the Texas Penal Code, the police have three different options when arresting someone on an assault charge. Only one of them involves physical contact between the person arrested and his or her alleged victim. See, Texas Penal Code Section 22.01.
You can be arrested on an assault charge in Dallas (or anywhere in Texas) if you:
- intentionally, knowingly, or recklessly cause bodily injury to someone else, including your spouse.
- intentionally or knowingly threaten someone else, including your spouse, with imminent bodily injury.
- intentionally or knowingly cause physical contact with another when the person knows or should reasonably believe that the other will regard the contact as offensive or provocative.
For the least of these charges, misdemeanor assault, you can face a maximum fine of $4000 and up to one year in the county jail. The most serious assault charges, however, are major felonies.
For instance, a domestic violence conviction is on someone’s record and the police are called back to the home for another assault arrest? The prosecutor may decide to go for a third-degree felony aggravated assault charge or even a charge of Continuous Violence Against the Family under Texas Penal Code §25.11, which is another third-degree felony charge. Here, the defendant faces a maximum fine of $10,000 and up to 10 years in a Texas state prison.
Times are tough here in Texas and in many parts of Dallas and Fort Worth, emotions are running high. These are tense times for many people — and that is the environment where tempers flare and violence can happen (or be threatened).
We can expect to see more of these assault arrests here in Dallas and North Texas throughout the rest of 2016. That’s a no brainer. Thing is — are these arrests deserved? And are these charges appropriate or heavy-handed? Should the charge be a lesser felony or even a misdemeanor charge instead of a more serious one? Is there a valid and viable defense (like self-defense) here? Can you get out on bond?
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