When people think of professionals who are likely to experience violence on the job, they might think of police officers and security guards. Others might think of school violence or retail theft as likely sources of on-the-job injuries as well. Yet, statistically, healthcare workers experience more violence on the job than almost any other group of professionals. There has been a frightening increase in the number of healthcare-related acts of violence in recent years.
Nurses, doctors and other medical professionals can end up hurt or even dying on the job because of interpersonal violence. Texas lawmakers have recognized this growing threat and have changed state statutes to impose stricter rules related to violence in medical environments as a result. Those who find themselves facing related charges need to understand how this evolution may impact their case.
What did lawmakers do?
Changes to how Texas handles acts of violence at medical facilities will mean more penalties for the people accused of such acts. Now that the governor has signed the bill into law, those accused of assaulting healthcare workers could face more serious charges and harsher penalties. Lawmakers cited the deaths of two workers killed in a hospital shooting in October 2022 as the inspiration for the law.
The new law changes the charges for assault against a hospital worker to a third-degree felony. It also makes it a felony for someone on parole to remove an ankle monitor on their own. Finally, the law mandates the notification of hospital staff when a violent offender enters the hospital for treatment. If someone pleads guilty or gets convicted of a third-degree felony in Texas, the penalties will include between two and 10 years in prison and up to $10,000 in fines, as well as court costs.
Those accused of assault in healthcare facilities may have experienced a variety of different circumstances. They may fear going into state custody and could act irrationally as a result. They may have had an adverse reaction to a medication that causes them to act abnormally. There could potentially be mitigating medical factors that help people defend against the felony charges likely to follow an altercation at a medical facility.
Tracking changes to statutes in Texas can help people know what to expect if they find themselves facing charges. Seeking legal guidance is an important way to seek both clarity and support in this regard.