Facing criminal charges of any kind in Texas and New Mexico is a daunting experience, made worse when you’re left with uncertainty about how long you’ll be waiting for a resolution. Just as every case is unique, so is the journey it takes through the justice system. However, there is a relatively consistent timeline that most aggravated assault cases in Texas and New Mexico follow. Most people will have their aggravated assault case decided within a year.
If you or a loved one are facing aggravated assault in Texas or New Mexico, trust the Benjamin Law Firm for expert representation. We’re ready to start fighting for you today.
Aggravated Assault Case Timeline
- Arrest and Initial Appearance (Weeks 1 – 2)
With very limited exceptions, almost all aggravated assault cases begin with an arrest. This arrest follows law enforcement’s investigation, where they gathered evidence and established probable cause to make the arrest. Once arrested and brought into custody, the accused is brought before the court for an initial appearance, which usually happens within 24 or 48 hours of the arrest. At the initial appearance, the judge or magistrate informs the accused of the charges against them, appoints legal representation if needed, and makes a decision regarding bail. Bail may be denied or approved with specific conditions, allowing the accused to await trial from home.
- Arraignment (Weeks 2 – 4)
The next stage in the aggravated assault case process is an arraignment, which typically occurs a couple of weeks after the accused is arrested. During the arraignment, the accused will be formally read the charges they are facing and will have the opportunity to enter a plea of guilty, not guilty, or no contest. The court will also set out a timeline for discovery, or the exchange of evidence between the defense and the prosecution, as well as set a time for the next hearing. An experienced defense attorney can also use the arraignment as an opportunity to renegotiate the terms or amount of bail.
- Pretrial Motions and Hearings (Weeks 4 – 16)
Next, the aggravated assault case will reach pretrial motions and hearings. This is when the defense and the prosecution have opportunities to file and respond to motions, and the court has a chance to conduct a hearing on the merits of those motions. Essentially, this phase sets the tone for the upcoming trial and determines the scope of evidence that will be heard. A skilled criminal defense attorney may file motions to suppress evidence and statements or have the charges dropped, depending on the facts of the case.
- Case Preparation and Negotiation (Months 4 – 6)
Once critical issues have been resolved in pretrial motions, the next phase, while awaiting trial, is case preparation. An experienced defense attorney will conduct further investigation and collaborate with the accused to come up with an effective defense strategy. They will consult experts, line up witnesses, and prepare counterarguments to anticipated arguments from the prosecution.
This is also the time when the defense and prosecution will engage in plea bargaining, when a prosecutor may offer a lighter sentence or a lesser charge for the defendant’s cooperation. The cooperation may involve certain conditions or promises to testify in other matters. Prosecutors are generally willing to avoid taking cases to trial to save on cost and time and to avoid uncertainty. At trial, there are no guarantees for the prosecution or the defense. The duration of the plea-bargaining phase can vary. Some cases reach an agreement quickly, while others may take several months. This greatly depends on how willing each party is to negotiate and the strength of the evidence on both sides. The great majority of criminal cases are resolved through plea bargaining, and only a small percentage continue to trial.
- Trial (Months 6 – 12 & Beyond)
If a plea agreement is not reached, the case will proceed to trial. The length of a trial can vary greatly depending on the complexity of the case and the amount of evidence that will be presented. Some criminal trials are resolved in a day or two, while others could take weeks, even months. The first step in the trial process is jury selection. From there, opening statements will be made and the prosecution will present their case. After that, the defense can present their case and both sides will give a closing argument. After closing arguments, the jury is read agreed upon instructions, before deliberating and returning with a verdict.
If guilty, the jury’s verdict may include a sentence, or the judge may hand down a sentence that same day. The sentencing may also take place at a later hearing. Additionally, most cases are followed by appeals.
Factors Influencing the Duration of an Aggravated Assault Case
While there is a general timeline, certain factors can have a huge impact on the duration of an aggravated assault case, including:
- Case Complexity: This includes the volume of evidence, the number of witnesses, and how complex the legal issues at play are. Moreover, cases involving multiple charges or multiple defendants may take longer to resolve.
- The Court’s Docket and Available Resources: The factor that has the greatest impact on the duration of any criminal case is the court’s calendar. No two courts are alike, even in the same state, so it’s hard to anticipate how quickly a court will be able to hear a case. Factors such as overcrowded dockets, a lasting backlog of cases due to COVID-19, limited court personnel, and scheduling conflicts can cause significant delays.
- The Quality of Legal Representation. The lawyer representing the accused can play a role in how long the case will take. Public defenders, like prosecutors, often have to juggle a high number of cases, so they may not be able to schedule trials in the immediate future. The court will also usually grant continuances (or some extra time) for unrepresented defendants to secure representation. An experienced, available, and efficient defense attorney may be able to expedite the process through effective negotiations.
- Trial Type. Generally, the defense gets to choose between one of two trials: a jury trial and a bench trial. A bench trial is conducted solely before the judge, whereas a jury trial is conducted before a judge and jury. Both have their advantages and disadvantages, but bench trials tend to be more streamlined and are scheduled more quickly.
El Paso Aggravated Assault Defense Attorney
If you or a loved one are facing aggravated assault charges in Texas or New Mexico, it’s critical that you act quickly and contact an experienced criminal defense attorney. You need an advocate who will fight aggressively and relentlessly for you, your rights, your freedom, and your future. The sooner you reach out, the better your chances are at mitigating the charge’s impact on your future and reaching the best possible outcome.
Based in El Paso but proudly serving clients across Texas and New Mexico, the Benjamin Law Firm offers a comprehensive criminal defense practice led by a true expert in criminal law. Our founding attorney Brock Benjamin is one of few attorneys who is Board Certified in Criminal Law by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization, exemplifying the true depth of Attorney Benjamin’s knowledge and experience in the field of criminal defense. Attorney Benjamin is also a former prosecutor, and he leverages his insider knowledge of the tricks and tactics that prosecutors use to present especially effective defenses for his clients.
Contact us today so we can get started fighting for you. The sooner you reach out, the sooner you can put this chapter behind you and move forward on the best possible footing. También podemos ayudarte en español.
Posted in: Criminal Defense