What is a deadly weapon? Well, thankfully the code defines that for us as well. Penal Code 1.07(17) says that “‘Deadly weapon’ means: (A) a firearm or anything manifestly designed, made, or adapted for the purpose of inflicting death or serious bodily injury; or (B) anything that in the manner of its use or intended use is capable of causing death or serious bodily injury.” In most cases, the latter is the alleged deadly weapon theory.
So, there are several ways of committing aggravated assault. The first is straightforwardly causing serious bodily injury without a deadly weapon. Punching someone in the nose and breaking their nose could be aggravated assault. The state would not have to prove that the fist was a deadly weapon because they just have to prove serious bodily injury occurred. Pushing someone down a set of stairs could also be aggravated assault this way if it caused serious bodily injury, but the same could also be aggravated assault in another way. How? The stairs could be alleged to have been “used” as a deadly weapon when used this way. In that case, even if you only caused them pain, the stairs could be alleged as a deadly weapon, aggravating the assault.
In my most recent jury trial, the allegation was using a vehicle as a deadly weapon and causing pain, alleged in the same manner as if someone had punched another and then displayed a knife in the course of the assault. We beat it primarily on credibility issues and the lack of any real injury. If the jury had convicted, however, legal sufficiency of the conviction would have been tough to overcome because a vehicle has been routinely upheld as a deadly weapon in many cases, and pain is all of the injury that was required.
If you or someone you know is being investigated or prosecuted for a crime, call Board Certified Criminal Law Specialist Micah Belden at 903-744-4252.