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Rand Paul Has 5 Broken Ribs:  Simple Assault in Texas

Right now, you probably know that Senator Rand Paul was attacked by his next-door neighbor while mowing his lawn on a Friday afternoon.  News reports are Dr. Paul suffered injuries that are much more serious than originally reported.

Apparently, he remains hospitalized today after suffering five broken ribs and damage to his lung.  It may be months before Rand Paul fully recovers from these injuries.

Think about it.  That’s a pretty big fight, where you end up with five rib fractures, huh?

Senator Paul’s neighbor, another physician named Dr. Rene Boucher, has been arrested by Bowling Green, Kentucky police.  He has been charged with fourth-degree assault under the Kentucky criminal statutes.

Dr. Paul Doesn’t Know Why This Happened

According to a long-time friend of Rand Paul who visited him in the hospital the day after he was admitted for treatment, Dr. Paul does not understand the motivation behind the attack.  He explained to his friend that he was mowing his lawn, stopped to move a tree limb, and heard no warning of the attack because he was wearing ear buds.

It’s reported there has been no Hatfield and McCoy feud between the two men; Dr. Paul said that he rarely had any dealings or communications with the man arrested for assaulting him.

Statement from the Accused

In the Rand Paul incident, his neighbor got criminal defense counsel pretty darn quick.  We know this because his attorney has already released a statement where Dr. Boucher tries to explain his motives behind the attack on Dr. Paul.

Through his lawyer, the accused said that this was “… a very regrettable dispute between two neighbors over a matter that most people would regard as trivial.”  It is clearly stated that the incident “…has absolutely nothing to do with either’s politics or political agendas.”


Different Kinds of Assault Crimes

Now, Senator Rand Paul’s case will proceed under Kentucky law.  However, it provides a great analogy for how disputes can erupt into people getting arrested.  Like neighbors here in Dallas or Fort Worth or Conroe ….

In Texas, like Kentucky, there are different kinds of crimes that are considered “assault.”  Texas Penal Code Section 22.01.  Under our state’s penal code there are altercations that culminate in charges for:

  • Sexual Assault
  • Aggravated Assault
  • Family Violence (Domestic Violence) Assault
  • Child Abuse Assault
  • Elder Abuse Assault
  • Assault With a Deadly Weapon
  • Assault Causing Serious Bodily Injury
  • Assault on a Public Servant

Different kinds of assault charges mean different kinds of punishment.  The least violent assault is classified as a Class C Misdemeanor; the most violent is considered a First (1st) Class Felony.  For more, read our past discussions in:

What is Simple Assault in Texas?

Our past discussions have not focused upon “simple assault,” even though this is a pretty common charge here in Texas.  Remember when Randy Travis appeared in the Plano court to defend against criminal charges a couple of years ago?  Those were “simple assault” charges that he faced.

Under Texas Penal Code Section 22.01, a charge of simple assault in Texas consists of the accused intentionally, knowingly, or recklessly:

(1) Causing bodily injury to the person;

(2) Threatening to cause imminent bodily injury (but it doesn’t happen); or

(3) Physical contact by the accused which he reasonably should know will be considered provocative or offensive to the person but causes no physical harm.

Bodily injury is the key here, and it’s defined by law.  It can be minor, with someone suffering minor injuries, like a cut or a bruise.  If there is more serious physical harm – like fractured ribs – then the situation involves “serious bodily injury” under Texas Penal Code Section 1.07.

And “serious bodily injury” means more serious punishment (felony vs misdemeanor) and more serious sentencing (jail or prison time).

Why Motive for Assault Is Important

The reason why the incident occurred — its motive and the intent behind it —  is a factor not only in what (1) charges the accused faces, but (2) the extent of punishment that he may receive.  Something without much violent intent and no physical harm may end up with charges dismissed, or punishment in the form of community supervision or deferred adjudication.

Someone that causes bodily injury to a public servant in Texas, however, may have to face specific assault punishments because the law protects our lawmakers and government officials from harm resulting from the performance of their duties.  What would be considered a misdemeanor charge gets booted up to a felony if there’s a public servant who is assaulted.

See, e.g., “Dallas Ebola Victim: No Evidence of Intent to Deceive; DA Assault Charges Were Wacky.”

Defending Against Simple Assault Charges

Here in Texas, the big defense against a simple assault charge is to carefully consider the prosecution’s case and hone it down both legally and factually.  This includes doing things like investigating the true reasons for what has happened, not what the police officers are describing as intent.

The melodrama of the police interpretation of events may not conform to facts that come to light from a defense investigation into things.

For example, in the Rand Paul analogy, the defense’s statement early on in that case does give instruction on how an aggressive defense effort will work fast regarding the context of the alleged crime.

Another defense task here is to confirm the authenticity and admissibility of the evidence contained in the prosecutor’s file.  Maybe things don’t jive with the Texas Evidence Rules.  Maybe things are not courtroom-worthy and need to be suppressed.

In some instances, though the Rand Paul analogy does not seem to include this possibility as the case is being currently reported, is the defense of self-defense and sometimes, the defense of your property. 

Here in Texas, an assault based upon protection can be a legitimate course of action and not something to be punished by law.


For more information, check out our web resources, read Michael Lowe’s Case Results, read his in-depth article,Family Violence And Assault Offenses: Legal Procedure Guide” and see Happy Holidays: Let’s Talk Assault Charges From A Dallas Criminal Defense Perspective.


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