Houston Violent Crime Defense – Greg Tsioros
A conviction for a violent crime carries ramifications far past the potential for fines and jail time. Some can keep you from purchasing a firearm, obtaining a hunting or fishing license, or having custody of your kids after a divorce.
In Texas, violent crime covers a wide array of criminal acts, from stalking to murder. Depending on the severity, you could be facing life in prison and a financially crippling fine. At the least, being accused of certain types of violent crime can result in your arrest and bar you from contacting your accuser.
At the Law Office of Greg Tsioros, we aggressively represent people who have been accused of a variety of violent crimes. We protect our clients with intelligent, uncompromising representation for misdemeanor and felony charges.
Houston violent crime lawyer Greg Tsioros handles violent crime cases:
- Animal cruelty
- Domestic violence
- Weapon charges
- Hit and run
- Human trafficking
- Murder and manslaughter
Punishment for these crimes depends on the value of property damaged, whether the crime caused injury or death, and whether the crime was intentional or reckless.
Abuse is any intentional act causing injury or trauma to another person or animal through bodily contact or threats. It includes physical abuse, harassment, and stalking.
Harassment can be sexual harassment, bullying, or stalking. It is meant to elicit feelings of fear, embarrassment, anger, persecution, or humiliation in the victim. Bullying includes threats, physical intimidation, violence, mocking, and tormenting to ostracize another person or obtain money or favors.
Stalking may not involve direct contact by generally involves one person watching, following, or closely monitoring another for no apparent reason. It can also include verbal threats, repeated hang-up phone calls, constant emails or text messages, or sending unwanted gifts.
Assault is intentionally, knowingly, or recklessly causing or threatening bodily injury to another person. It can also mean deliberately or knowingly causing physical contact with another person when you know the other individual regards that offense as offensive or provocative.
Assault includes causing bodily injury to or threatening a spouse. It can be a misdemeanor or a felony, depending on the reason for the assault, your relationship with the victim, and the surrounding circumstances.
“Simple” assault is when the victim does not sustain an injury but is either threatened with harm or offended by the physical contact.
It is considered a Class C to a Class A misdemeanor with a fine of up to $500. Assault can be enhanced to a third-degree felony with a sentence of two to ten years and a fine up to $10,000. Under the right circumstances, it can be enhanced to a first-degree felony with two to twenty years in prison and a $10,000 fine.
Aggravated assault occurs when you:
- Knowingly attack a public servant
- Have been convicted of previous violent crimes
- Suffocated or strangled the victim
- Are an inmate attacking a correctional facility worker
- Hit and elderly or disabled person
It is considered a second-degree felony which can be enhanced to a first-degree felony by committing assault with a deadly weapon. Punishment can be imprisonment for two to twenty years or up to life.
Animal cruelty is considered any action that involves harming animals, torturing them, or purposefully causing discomfort or pain to them. An animal is any living, non-human creature, and the law applies to domestic animals, both livestock and non-livestock.
Actions that are considered animal cruelty include:
- Overworking a farm animal
- Intentionally starting it
- Forcing it to live in a cage that is too small
- Forcing animals to engage in fights with other animals
- Conducting medical experiments on them
Texas divides animal mistreatment into intentional or failure to act. Intentional mistreatment is direct cruelty. Failure to act includes neglect, abandonment, or inadequate shelter.
Intentional animal cruelty is punished more harshly than failure to act cases. The penalties vary widely.
Torturing or physically harming an animal can be a state felony with 180 days to two years in prison and fines of up to $10,000.
Failure to act like deprivation of food or water is a Class A misdemeanor with up to one year in jail and $4,000 in fines.
Arson is the intentional act of setting a fire or causing an explosion with the express intent to damage or destroy a building, structure, vehicle, or other targets. It applies even if the fire doesn’t take hold or create the intended damage.
It is a form of property damage that can be charged as a Class C misdemeanor up to a first-degree felony.
Criminal arson is knowingly setting a fire or explosion while knowing the target is insured or that a particular property located inside the targeted location belonged to another person.
- Misdemeanor arson can be considered criminal mischief at less than $500 in damage. It is charged. If damage is valued between $500 and $1,500 is becomes a Class A misdemeanor with up to a year in jail.
- Felony arson can be either a second-degree felony with two to twenty years in jail. It can be enhanced to first degree with life in prison for damaging a church or causing injury.
Domestic violence is also called family violence. It is the assault of a family member with physical contact even if there is no injury. A family member includes someone related by blood or marriage, adoption, fostering, or in the same household.
It does NOT include self-defense.
The perpetrator knowingly or recklessly causes bodily injury to another, threatens another with imminent bodily injury, makes contact with a family member in a way that could reasonably be considered offensive or provocative, or performs ongoing harassment.
If accused, you can be:
- Taken into custody
- Charged with a crime
- Restricted from making contact with the accuser
- Subjected to personal and professional ramifications
Types of domestic violence are:
- Aggravated domestic assault that causes serious bodily injury
- Domestic assault
- Continuous violence, which is two domestic assaults within a year
Domestic assault can be charged as a misdemeanor or a felony depending on the circumstances. Aggravated domestic assault can carry a sentence of five to 99 years. Continuous violence can be a third-degree felony with two to ten years in prison.
A fine of up to $10,000 may be charged as well.
You will not be able to purchase a firearm, obtain a hunting or fishing license, or be eligible for some financial aid. You may lose custody of your children.
Many violent crimes fall under the umbrella of weapon charges. Charges run from misdemeanors to felonies, depending on the circumstances. Some weapons are illegal to carry in Texas or the United States. Charges range from Class B misdemeanors to first-degree felonies. Punishment ranges from no prison time to over 90 years. Fines range from $4,000 to $10,000.
You must have a license to carry a handgun anywhere other than your own property or a boat or motor vehicle you own. It must be concealed, and you may not carry it while intoxicated.
The most common violations are:
- Possession of a firearm by a convicted felon
- Unlawful possession of a deadly weapon
- Firearms trafficking
- Carrying a weapon into an airport
- Possession of an illegal weapon*
- Unlawful weapon sales or distribution
- Possession or use of a weapon during the commission of a crime
- Unlawful brandishing or discharge of a firearm
Depending on the type of weapon and other circumstances, you can get ten years in prison and/or a fine of up to $10,000.
*Illegal weapons include:
- Fully automatic mounted or crew-served weapons
- Chemical or biological weapons
- Explosives such as hand grenades, RPGs, dynamite, IEDs, bombs and bomb-making equipment, mines
- Certain types of ammunition such as armor-piercing bullets, chemical dispersion devices, and silencers
- Sawed-off shotguns
- Brass knuckles
- Batons such as clubs, nightsticks, blackjacks, spears, and swords
It is illegal to carry guns in the following locations:
- Public schools or educational institutions
- Government offices
- Polling places
- Businesses that get more than half their income from alcohol sales
Hit and Run
Hit and run is defined as a person hitting another vehicle or person and leaving the scene of the accident. Cases generally hinge on witnesses and recording equipment that can identify the vehicle and/or the driver.
Penalties depend on whether injuries or death occurs.
An accident involving serious injury or death can be a third-degree felony with two to ten years in prison and a fine up to $10,000. An accident with injuries that are not serious may get you one year in county jail or five years in prison with a maximum fine of $5,000.
An accident involving property damage can only be a Class B or Class C misdemeanor, depending on the damage’s financial value. A Class C misdemeanor is issued for less than $200 in damage. More than that can be a Class B with 180 days in jail and a fine up to $2,000.
Legally, you are required to stop and render aid and exchange information.
Intentionally or knowingly abducting another person or restraining a person with the intent to prevent their liberation is called kidnapping. The use of weapons or violence is not required for it to be a crime.
Abduction and restraint https://www.txcrimdefense.com/practice-items/other-crimes/kidnapping-charges/ are two forms of kidnapping.
- Restraint: restricting another person’s movement without their consent by moving them from place to place or keeping them within a specific space. The perpetrator uses intimidation, deception, and/or force. If the person is under the age of 14, they cannot give consent. Those between the ages of 14 and 17 cannot be taken across a state line or more than 120 miles from their home.
- Abduction: holding a person against their will and attempting to keep them from being rescued or threatening harm should a rescue be attempted. The victim is kept where they are unlikely to be found.
Simple kidnapping is a third-degree felony, and you can get up to 10 years in prison and a fine of up to $10,000.
Aggravated kidnapping is a first-degree felony that gets you five to 99 years in prison and up to a $10,000 fine. If the kidnapper voluntarily releases the victim in a safe location, the charge may be reduced to a second-degree felony with up to 20 years in state prison.
Aggravated kidnapping https://www.txcrimdefense.com/kidnapping-laws-in-texas/ means:
- Holding someone for ransom
- Using someone as a hostage or human shield
- Using someone to commit a felony or flee the scene of a felony
- Injuring or sexually abusing the person
- Terrorizing the person or another individual
- Interfering with a government or political function
Sentencing depends on the circumstances, such as the victim’s age, whether a weapon was used, prior convictions of the perpetrator, and any injury or death caused.
Human trafficking is a serious global problem. It ties with firearms trafficking as the second most common type of organized crime activity.
Human trafficking is the illegal transportation of people for illicit purposes. It can involve kidnapping, coercing, or forcing people to be sold as commodities and often is done for sexual purposes or forced labor. Labor trafficking is a federal offense with three to seven years in federal prison. Sex trafficking is the transport of people for the purpose of selling them into sexual slavery. It is a felony punishable by three to 25 years in prison.
Sex trafficking, labor trafficking, and child trafficking are all forms of human trafficking. Of those, child trafficking carries the heaviest punishment, sometimes decades in federal prison. If sexual crimes were committed while trafficking, the convicted individual could face mandatory lifetime registration as a sex offender.
Murder and Manslaughter
Murder and manslaughter are also known as homicide. They are defined as a person’s actions that cause the death of another person.
Murder is a first-degree felony. It means someone intentionally, willingly, or knowingly caused the death of another person. The perpetrator meant or intended to cause serious bodily harm or death. In other words, it is a deliberate killing.
If the perpetrator meant to commit a felony other than manslaughter and the crime resulted in death, a murder charge could be added. There is murder, and there is capital murder. Murder does not carry a sentence of capital punishment. It is a first-degree felony in the state of Texas, and you can get five to 99 years in prison and a fine of up to $10,000.
Capital murder is a capital felony carrying the death penalty. It is a homicide perpetrated in specific circumstances:
- Killing a police officer or firefighter
- Killing more than one person
- Killing someone in prison
- Killing someone for a fee
- Killing a childless under six years old
Capital murder may not result in execution. In Texas, capital murder is punished by lethal injection or life in prison without the possibility of parole.
Manslaughter is recklessly causing another individual’s death. It is a second-degree felony punishable by two to twenty years in prison and a fine of up to $10,000.
A variety of circumstances determines manslaughter.
- The perpetrator’s actions posed a substantial and unjustifiable risk of death to someone else.
- The action deviated from what a normal person would consider a standard of care to avoid doing serious harm.
- Reckless means the perpetrator knew their actions involved a potentially life-threatening risk to another person, but they did it anyway.
Criminally negligent homicide is charged when the perpetrator was unaware of any substantial or unjustifiable risk to another person. It is a lesser charge that carries a prison term of 180 days to two years.
Texas groups together voluntary and involuntary manslaughter but each has different consequences. Voluntary manslaughter is the intentional killing of someone without premeditation. Usually, it happens due to a sudden provocation or unnecessarily forceful self-defense. Involuntary manslaughter is an unintentional action resulting in another’s death. It can be caused while committing another crime, by accident, or through an action that could have been prevented.
Manslaughter includes intoxication manslaughter and vehicular manslaughter:
- Intoxication manslaughter occurs if the person who causes the death is impaired by alcohol or other drugs. Typically, it’s a drunk driver. The intent to kill need not be proven for conviction.
- Vehicular manslaughter occurs if someone operates a vehicle in a reckless manner that leads to the death of another person. Recklessness includes any vehicle speed competition or contest like drag racing.
The penalties for murder and manslaughter are quite severe. Prison sentences range from 180 days to two years for some manslaughter cases. Others bring two to twenty years in prison. Murder can carry five to 99 years of life without parole. Capital murder can mean execution.
Talking to a Violent Crimes Attorney
Facing the court to account for actions that harmed another person requires a defendant to undergo extremely stressful conditions that have unpredictable outcomes. Attorney Gregory Tsioros has an outstanding record of successful defense of clients charged with violent crime. A native of Houston who fully understands Texas criminal law, Attorney Tsioros has the experience and the expertise to help clients pursue charges of lesser offense or even dismissal.
The Law Office of Gregory Tsioros offers a free case evaluation to all clients. Anyone who needs representation by an experienced and successful defense attorney can contact us to schedule a free consultation.