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From lifetime imprisonment to probation: VLF provides strong defense that makes the difference

On Behalf of | Jun 24, 2024 | Firm News

When facing criminal charges, it is important to understand the legalities. Knowing the difference between charges and the evidence needed to meet these requirements can make the difference between a conviction with serious penalties and a much more manageable plea deal.

In a recent case, Valenzuela Law Firm represented a man accused of murder after an altercation at a home led to shots fired. We were able to tailor a defense strategy to the situation that led the prosecution to drop the murder charges and focus instead on much lesser charges. Our client ultimately agreed to take a plea deal for aggravated assault with a deadly weapon, avoiding a Texas murder charge.

Aggravated assault v. murder

Criminal charges for aggravated assault generally involve intentionally causing serious bodily harm or using a deadly weapon against another person. Although the prosecution initially wanted to move forward with El Paso County murder charges against the accused, they recognized that the defendant likely had a strong case for self-defense. As a result, we were able to work with the defendant to consider a plea deal for aggravated assault instead of the greater murder charge.

The defendant agreed to accept the deal and the court sentenced him to seven years of deferred probation. Deferred probation usually allows the accused to avoid immediate incarceration. Instead, they serve probation under specific conditions. This generally requires compliance with court orders, regular check-ins, and avoiding further criminal activity.

This is much better than the original charges which, if convicted, could have come with severe penalties, including life imprisonment or even the death penalty.

Criminal charges are often just the beginning

It is important to note that the initial charges are just that — an initial step in the criminal justice process. These charges may change as the process moves forward. In some cases, as was true in the one discussed above, the accused may be able to negotiate a decrease in charges. In others, the prosecution may gather additional evidence to move forward with more severe charges which could include:

  • Felony murder: If someone dies during the commission of a felony (e.g., robbery), all participants can be charged with felony murder.
  • Capital murder: Cases with aggravating factors. This could include the presence of multiple murder charges or killing of a police officer.

These charges could have led to life behind bars or the death penalty.

Anyone facing criminal charges in Texas is wise to understand the law that guides the process. It is important to review the charges and determine what the prosecution needs to establish to build their case. This way, you will know what type of evidence to gather to counter their claims.