The charges that prosecutors file against someone accused of breaking the law in Texas depend on the ins and outs of an individual’s situation. Prosecutors must behave in accordance with state law. They generally choose what charges to pursue based on the evidence that police officers and other investigators have obtained.
In certain situations, the same infraction could either lead to misdemeanor or felony charges. Texas prosecutors can highlight so-called “aggravating factors” that may expose someone to more serious charges or more significant criminal penalties.
Small details can make a big difference
There are a host of different criminal charges that have both a standard charge and an aggravated charge for prosecutors to consider pursuing. For example, someone who threatens or injures another person could face standard assault charges.
However, if someone causes grave bodily injury to another person or commits an assault with a deadly weapon, the state could pursue aggravated assault charges. Even impaired driving offenses can be subject to the impact of aggravating factors. Causing injury to others, driving with a minor in the vehicle or having an exceptionally high blood alcohol concentration (BAC) are all factors that could increase the severity of the charges that the state pursues against someone.
Depending on the charges someone faces, aggravating factors can both worsen the charges themselves and may increase the penalties that the judge can impose if someone pleads guilty or a jury convicts them.
Aggravating factors can influence defense strategy
When someone faces criminal charges complicated by aggravating factors, they may feel hopeless and worry that they will face the worst possible penalties. However, pursuing charges based on aggravating factors will impose another degree of obligation on prosecutors and will create another opportunity for someone’s defense team.
Raising questions about whether certain details of the criminal case are accurate can be a good starting point for a comprehensive defense strategy that aims to prevent someone’s criminal conviction. Learning more about how details can influence the charges someone faces and the penalties the state may impose can help those who need to strategize in the wake of being accused of criminal wrongdoing in Texas.