Aggravated assault: What counts as a deadly weapon?

Under Texas law, any assault-related allegation is a serious charge that can result in severe criminal penalties. When a fight involves a "deadly weapon," however, prosecutors can bring charges of aggravated assault, raising the stakes for defendants.

What kinds of things can count as a deadly weapon? A recent Texas incident illustrates how flexible the law's definition can be. Almost anything can be a deadly weapon, leading to possible aggravated assault charges.

Last weekend, three Texas women were involved in an altercation with an older man. For unknown reasons, a fight developed and at least some of the women hit the man with the anti-theft device known as a "Club." Car owners use the Club to secure the steering wheel on a vehicle to keep car thieves from driving away. Although the man did not suffer life-threatening injuries, police still charged all three women with aggravated assault with a deadly weapon.

The Texas Penal Code defines a deadly weapon as either a firearm or "anything" that the defendant used or meant to use in a way that could cause death or serious injury. This means that practically any object could count as a deadly weapon, ranging from knives to coffee cups.

Aggravated assault convictions can result in long prison sentences, sometimes as long as 20 years. The broad definition of "deadly weapon" allows prosecutors to seek these penalties in many cases.

Source: NBC 6 Corpus Christi, "Three Women Accused of Beating Man With 'The Club,'" Ben Lloyd, Nov. 13, 2012 

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