In Texas, a person who threatens, causes, or recklessly places another at risk of serious bodily injury can face charges of aggravated assault or deadly conduct—both of which carry felony penalties and the possibility of prison time. A conviction can also result in monetary penalties, such as payment of fines and restitution.
This article will review the crimes of aggravated assault (with or without a deadly weapon) and deadly conduct and their penalties.
Aggravated assault in Texas consists of:
Serious bodily injury means injury that creates a substantial risk of death or that causes death, serious permanent disfigurement, or protracted loss or impairment of the function of any bodily member or organ. Broken bones or permanent scarring would be considered a serious bodily injury.
Deadly weapons can be any object that's capable of causing death or serious bodily injury and used in such a manner. Examples include a firearm, hunting knife, rope, or even a baseball bat.
(Tex. Penal Code §§ 1.07, 22.01, 22.02 (2022).)
Aggravated assault is a second-degree felony, punishable by 2 to 20 years in prison and a fine of up to $10,000.
The offense becomes a first-degree felony when any of the following circumstances apply:
For a first-degree felony, a conviction carries five to 99 years in prison and a fine of up to $10,000.
(Tex. Penal Code §§ 12.33, 12.32, 22.02 (2022).)
The offense of deadly conduct in Texas consists of:
Some forms of road rage could constitute deadly misconduct. For example, if a driver tries to cut off another driver or maneuvers his vehicle to potentially run another vehicle off the road—especially on a highway or road with a high speed limit—he places the other driver in danger of serious bodily injury because his actions could cause a motor vehicle accident or collision.
(Tex. Penal Code §§ 6.03, 22.05 (2022).)
The offense of deadly misconduct is a Class A misdemeanor, punishable by up to one year in jail and a $4,000 fine. The penalty increases to a third-degree felony if it involves discharging a firearm. A third-degree felony conviction carries 2 to 10 years in prison and a $10,000 fine.
(Tex. Penal Code §§ 12.21, 12.34, 22.05 (2022).)
As an alternative to jail or prison, a judge may authorize community supervision (probation) for offenders who are sentenced for misdemeanors or felonies with less than 10 years of incarceration. Community supervision is not an option, though, if the offender used or displayed a deadly weapon in the offense.
Repeat felony and misdemeanor offenders can face enhanced sentences, such as an increased felony level (third-degree moves up to second-degree) or mandatory minimums (a minimum of 90 days in jail or 15 years' prison time).
(Tex. C.C.P. arts. 42A.051, 42A.102; Tex. Penal Code §§ 12.42, 12.43 (2022).)
A conviction for aggravated assault or deadly misconduct becomes part of your permanent criminal record. If you are convicted later of another crime, the court can consider your prior conviction and impose a harsher sentence in the new case. A conviction for a violent crime—even a misdemeanor—can hurt you when you are looking for a job or applying to rent a house or apartment. A convicted felon loses the right to vote and carry firearms and can lose certain professional licenses.
An experienced criminal defense attorney can determine whether you have any grounds for dismissal of the charges against you, explore plea options, or represent you at trial.