What Is Considered a “Deadly Weapon” in Texas?
February 9th, 2018 by Tad Nelson in Criminal Defense
Violent crimes are treated significantly more harshly in Texas when they involve a “deadly weapon.” This does not just refer to items, such as firearms, that are designed to be used as weapons. Section 1.07 of the Texas Penal Code defines as a deadly weapon as “anything that in the manner of its use or intended use is capable of causing death or serious bodily injury.” So even an everyday item may be converted into a deadly weapon depending on how it is used.
Defendant Convicted of Aggravated Assault Despite Lack of Weapon at Trial
Something else you need to be aware of: You can be convicted of a violent crime even if the police never recover the deadly weapon. Eyewitness testimony–not to mention the victim’s injuries–may be sufficient to establish the fact that a weapon was employed during the commission of an offense. Depending on the facts and circumstances of a given case, the absence of a weapon may be enough to create “reasonable doubt” in the minds of the jury.
But that is not always the case. Here is a recent Texas criminal case on point. This case involves an aggravated assault on a security officer who worked at a grocery store. While attempting to eject a customer from the store, the security officer deployed his pepper spray. The customer responded by threatening to kill the officer.
A few minutes later, the customer attempted to make good on his threat. He returned to the store and started beating the security officer on the head with an object described by several witnesses as a staple gun. The security officer was seriously injured in this attack and required hospitalization.
Later that same day, police officers responded to a “domestic disturbance” call near the store. The officers took a man–the defendant in this case–into custody for public intoxication. The officers observed other units responding to the assault at the grocery store and realized the man they had in custody matched the description of the assailant. The defendant then voluntarily admitted to the police he was the attacker.
Prosecutors charged the defendant with aggravated assault against a security officer in the performance of his duties, which is a first-degree felony under the Texas Penal Code. The evidence at trial included two witnesses who said they saw the defendant use a “staple gun” to attack the victim. The state did not introduce the staple gun itself, as it was never found by the police.
Despite the lack of the actual weapon, the jury found the defendant guilty and sentenced him to 15 years in state prison. On January 29 of this year, a state appeals court rejected the defendant’s appeal. The Court noted that “[i]t was not vital to the State’s case that the actual staple gun used in the assault be introduced into evidence or even be found.” The victim’s testimony regarding his injuries and the eyewitness accounts were more than sufficient for the jury to find the defendant’s guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.
Speak to an Attorney, Not the Police
Of course, the fact the defendant admitted committing assault to the police officers who arrested him likely sealed his fate before he even got to court. This is a cautionary example of why you should never speak to the police without first contacting an experienced League City violent crimes defense attorney. If you are facing serious felony charges in the Houston or Galveston areas and need immediate assistance, call the Law Offices of Tad Nelson & Associates at (281) 280-0100.