How Assault Charges Could Escalate to Manslaughter Charges

January 1, 2019 | By Shane Phelps Law
How Assault Charges Could Escalate to Manslaughter Charges

The Texas Penal Code sets specific definitions for what characterizes certain behaviors as criminal acts. Depending on a person’s actions, their intent, and/or the result of their conduct, they could be charged with different types of crimes. In some cases, if someone willfully carries out a deed, they could be prosecuted for one kind of offense; however, if their behaviors led to an outcome not addressed in the definition of the initial crime, they could face escalated charges.

For example, say Doug and Barry went to grab drinks at a bar. The place they went to was crowded, and now and then other patrons would bump into Barry. The first few times it happened, he ignored it. However, after being pushed a fourth time, Barry turned around and shoved the person who knocked into him.

The two men exchanged words, which turned into a fight. Barry, having experience as an amateur boxer, knocked the other patron unconscious after two punches. As he fell to the ground, the man hit his head on the corner of the bar counter. Barry was arrested and charged with aggravated assault, which is defined in Texas Penal Code § 22.02 as intentionally, knowingly, or recklessly causing serious bodily injury to another person.

Two days after the fight, the victim died. As a result, Barry’s aggravated assault charge was upgraded to manslaughter, even though he did not intend to kill the other bar patron. In Texas, a person commits manslaughter if their reckless actions cause the death of another person, regardless of whether they did so voluntarily or involuntarily.

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