Assault Charges in Texas
Assault, in legal terminology, refers to intentional threat or action to cause bodily injury. However, the category of assault crimes is vast and it includes a range of misdemeanors and felonies. Chapter 22 of the Texas Penal Code lists out the assault charges and spells out crime-specific penalties. Based on the severity of the charges and whether a weapon was use, Texas can punish you differently.
What is an assault?
The Texas Penal Code considers any of the following actions as suitable to invite assault charges.
- Intentional or reckless action leading to physical harm
- Making a threat with an intention to cause physical harm
- An offensive physical contact made deliberately
The level of assault differ from one another based on person (who is assaulted), context (why), and method (how, if any weapon used). In Texas, an assault charge even if not violent may lead to significant penalties, including a jail term. Hiring an experienced criminal defense attorney can help your chances in fighting your case.
Simple Vs Aggravated Assault
All assaults are crimes but based on the severity of the assault, it can be considered a simple or aggravated form. For example, an assault causing grievous injury belongs to aggravated category while an offensive touching ends up being charged as a simple assault. The degree of injury is a deciding factor. Punching can be either simple or aggravated assault depending on the type of injury it causes. Typically, all assaults involving weapons or dangerous objects are charged as aggravated crimes.
However, there are instances when a simple assault becomes an aggravated assault based on the intent of the defendant and the status of the victim. For example, an assault within a legal relationship may be met with a harsher sentence, such as a husband punching his wife in a fit of rage. Also if it involves one who is specially protected, such as a government servant, then the defendant is likely to face aggravated assault charges. A caregiver at a nursing home attacking an inmate, who is specially protected under the statute, is also treated as an aggravated crime.
All second and third-degree felonies are aggravated assault charges. These are punishable with more severe sentences if found convicted. However, if your defense is led by an experienced criminal attorney, you stand a chance to fight your case.
A “lesser” crime, misdemeanor assaults usually attract monetary fines and minor jail terms. These can be put under the class of simple assaults. Such assault instances range from offensive behavior to physical assault not amounting to injury. Here is a list of misdemeanors that constitute assaults under the Texas Penal Code.
Class A Misdemeanor Assault
- What is: An assault that results in physical harm. Assaults against someone in a dating relationship.
- Examples: Punching/ physically attacking the victim, threatening an elderly or disabled person
- Maximum Punishment: Fine of up to $4,000 with a 1-year jail term.
Class B Misdemeanor Assault
- What is: One gets threats or is touched offensively during a sporting event or for participating in it.
- Examples: Fans from different teams start to wrestle and fight.
- Maximum Punishment: A fine of up to $2,000 with 6-month imprisonment.
Class C Misdemeanor Assault
- What is: When an assault does not involve any bodily injury.
- Examples: Threatening with the action of causing physical harm, touching in an offensive or aggressive manner.
- Maximum Punishment: A fine up to $500
A punishable offense inviting a sentence of more than one year in Texas, felony assaults are of serious nature. While a third-degree felony is a simple assault, second and first-degree felonies are listed as aggravated assaults.
First-degree FELONY assault
- What is: Second only to a capital offense, it includes aggravated assaults against the partner, family members, servants, public officials, security personnel, specially protected persons, crime informants, or witnesses that lead to grievous injury.
- Examples: Attacking and injuring public servants/ crime informants, retaliatory attacks leading to injuries, aggravated assaults on known/unknown persons causing serious injuries
- Maximum Punishment: Fine of up to $10,000 with life imprisonment.
SECOND-DEGREE FELONY ASSAULT
- What is: Any assault involving the use of deadly weapons or dangerous objects and leading to injury.
- Examples: Attacking someone while armed, assault involving a stick, deliberate choking, threatening with a gun, assault brandishing a dangerous object and causing physical harm.
- Maximum Punishment: Fine of up to $10,000 with 2-20 years of jail term.
THIRD-DEGREE FELONY ASSAULT
- What is: Any Class A misdemeanor assault against an official for carrying out his duty or a misdemeanor assault by one with a previous history of assault conviction.
- Examples: Threatening or offending action against public servants, security officials, firefighters, emergency volunteers, medical staff, etc., or a repeat misdemeanor against family members, servants, roommates, or dating partner.
- Maximum Punishment: Fine of up to $10,000 with a jail term between 2 and 10 years.
When Misdemeanors Assaults Becomes Felony Assaults
In Texas, misdemeanors can be treated as a felony when the assault is subject to the following conditions.
- The accused is a repeat offender.
- Assault on public officials while doing their duty.
- An intention of sexual assault is involved.
- Assault on persons specially protected under the state law.
Assault charges in Texas may result in substantial fines and imprisonment. However, a skilled criminal defense attorney can be a big difference in your case. To know how is it possible, reach out to us at Zavala Texas Law (832) 819-3723.