Aggravated Assault and Deadly Conduct in Texas

Aggravated assault and deadly conduct carry serious felony penalties, including time behind bars and substantial fines.

Updated by Rebecca Pirius, Attorney

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.

What Is Aggravated Assault in Texas?

Aggravated assault in Texas consists of:

  • intentionally, knowingly or recklessly causing serious bodily injury to another person, or
  • using or exhibiting a deadly weapon in the course of committing any assault crime, including threatening another with bodily injury or engaging in conduct that the victim likely will find offensive.

Aggravated Assault Resulting in Serious Bodily Injury

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.

Aggravated Assault With a Deadly Weapon

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).)

What Are the Penalties for Aggravated Assault in Texas?

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:

  • the offender uses a deadly weapon in committing domestic assault and causes serious bodily injury to the victim
  • the aggravated assault is committed by or against a public servant, such as a state worker or city counselor acting in their official capacity
  • the offender commits aggravated assault in retaliation against a witness, informant, or a person who reported a crime, or
  • the offender shoots a firearm from a motor vehicle at a house, building, or motor vehicle with reckless disregard for whether it's occupied and causes serious bodily injury to the victim.

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).)

What Is Deadly Conduct in Texas?

The offense of deadly conduct in Texas consists of:

  • recklessly engaging in any conduct that places another at imminent risk of suffering a serious bodily injury, or
  • knowingly discharging a firearm at a person, house, building, or vehicle with reckless disregard for whether the house, building, or vehicle is occupied.

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).)

What Are the Penalties for Deadly Conduct Crimes in Texas?

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).)

Sentencing Alternatives and Enhancements

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).)

The Value of Good Representation

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.

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