The word “assault” can describe a wide range of scenarios. No two criminal cases are exactly alike, and this may be particularly relevant in cases involving assault allegations. Among the potential defenses against assault charges is that of consent. Under limited circumstances, you may be able to claim that a fight you engaged in was not an illegal assault because both parties consented to the action. Texas is one of the few jurisdictions in the country where mutual combat may be allowed outside of sanctioned combat sports.
What Constitutes Consent?
A written, signed and notarized agreement is ideal, but it isn’t necessary. The consent must be “effective,” meaning you must reasonably believe that the other person consented. This could be as simple as observable conduct indicating that you both wanted to fight. It can be entirely nonverbal. Of course, it does take more than both of you actively participating in the fight to prove there was consent. Someone defending themselves in a fight they didn’t want to be in has not “consented” to the fight.
Consent Alone Is Not Enough
Proving that the other person consented is not the end of the matter. Perhaps the biggest risk of relying on consent is how easily you can lose with that defense. To claim consent, the assault cannot threaten or inflict serious bodily injury. Serious bodily injury means anything that “creates a substantial risk of death or that causes death, serious permanent disfigurement, or protracted loss or impairment of the function of any bodily member or organ.“
In practice that means the defense is usually only applicable in fist fights. Any use of a weapon of any kind will negate the defense. It also means that the damage done in the fight has to be minimal. A broken bone can mean impairment of the function of a bodily member, which negates the defense.
The mutual combat defense is also invalid if the assault was part of a gang initiation or was done as a condition of being a gang member.
A Serious Charge Calls for a Serious Defense
Assault can lead to misdemeanor or felony charges, depending on a number of factors. Many assault cases involve alcohol which can confuse the situation further, raising questions about an issue as delicate as consent. The right defense strategy requires careful analysis. You need an experienced, dedicated Texas criminal defense attorney to help you protect yourself.
Call Lee & Wood Today if You Are Facing Assault Charges
You can’t afford to leave your assault defense to chance. Whether you believe your assault case involves mutual consent or not, you need a strong defense team to mount a strong defense. Call the skilled criminal defense lawyers of Lee & Wood at 817-678-6771 to discuss your situation today.