The charge of assault in Texas can fall under either misdemeanor or felony, and both can have serious consequences.
What is Assault?
The criminal laws of Texas state that you can be charged with assault if you:
1. Intentionally or knowingly cause physical contact with another person when you know, or should know that the other person will find the physical contact offensive.
2. Threatening another person in a way that causes the other person to expect imminent bodily injury or harm.
3. Intentionally, knowingly or recklessly causing bodily injury to another for any reason (including your spouse).
According to Texas law, not only can you be charged for punching, kicking or choking someone during a fight but you can also be charged with assault if you simply tell someone you are going to hurt them and they have a reasonable fear that you will do just that. If you are having a disagreement with a neighbor and, in your anger, you find yourself poking them in the chest with your finger, you may find yourself being charged with assault.
Types of Assault Charges
Simple assault, which likely resulted in minor injuries to another, is a Class A misdemeanor and can be punishable by a fine of up to $4000 and not more than one year in the county jail. However, simple assault can quickly become a third-degree felony in Texas if you:
- Committed the assault against a family member or someone you are in a romantic relationship with and you have a previous domestic violence conviction.
- Knew the person was a government contractor carrying out "official" duties or if you committed the assault on a public servant as retaliation for him doing his job.
- Knew the person was a security guard or emergency services worker, and you committed the assault while he or she was doing his job.
If the assault only involved touching or threatening, and no actual bodily harm took place, it is a Class C misdemeanor, with a fine of $500. Keep in mind, however that even a "simple" Class C misdemeanor can turn into something much more serious; if the victim is elderly, it becomes a Class A misdemeanor, and if the victim is a sports official, it becomes a Class B misdemeanor.
Talk to a Criminal Defense Lawyer
The stakes rise considerably if you are charged with causing serious injury to another or you used a weapon during the assault. The assault charges now become a second-degree felony and the penalty is 2-20 years in Texas prison and/or a fine of up to $10,000. You should immediately consult an attorney if you find yourself being charged with assault, as a knowledgeable attorney could make the difference in whether or not you spend time in jail or prison