Assault Crimes

Assault is a very serious criminal charge that is typically determined on a case-by-case basis. The extent of punishment ranges widely based on intent, relation, extent of bodily harm, and prior convictions. Regardless, an assault conviction can result in prison time and fines that can have extreme effects on an individual’s future. Getting educated is the first step in ensuring assault affects less citizens every day.

What is the definition of Assault in Texas?

According to Texas Penal Code § 22.01, et seq. A person commits an offense if the person:

  • Intentionally, knowingly or recklessly causes bodily injury to another, including the person’s spouse;
  • Intentionally or knowingly threatens another with imminent bodily injury, including the person’s spouse; or
  • Intentionally or knowingly causes physical contact with another, when the person knows or should reasonably believe that the other will regard the contact as offensive or provocative.

What are the most common types of assault charges in Harris County?

Simple Assault – This is the least serious form of assault, typically associated with limited threat of violence and minor injury. An example includes shoving or slapping someone in an argument.

Aggravated Assault – This is a more serious offense involving a stronger threat to cause serious bodily harm. Assault becomes aggravated due to deadly weapons, intent of the perpetrator and/or extent of harm. An example includes striking or threatening to strike an individual with a weapon or dangerous object.

Assault with a Deadly Weapon – This is a type of aggravated assault that specifically highlights the use of or display of a deadly weapon utilized in assaulting an individual. An example of this would be threatening to and/or stabbing an individual with a knife.

Assault against a Public Servant – This offense is considered a felony assault charge. Public Servants include police officers, public employees or agents of government; a juror or grand juror; an attorney at law or notary public performing a governmental function; or a candidate running for election to a public office. An example includes an individual punching or attacking a police officer.

Domestic Violence Assault – Also referred to as an assault of a family member, household member, or partner. Domestic Violence assault is a very serious crime. The perpetrator’s relation to the defendant, the extent of harm inflicted and past offenses can influence the sentencing. An example includes punching a roommate or significant other.

How do the punishments for assault vary based on charge?

Class C Misdemeanor – Usually “Assault by Threat” or “Assault by Offensive Contact”, Class C is the only charge that can be defined based on the words of the accuser without physical harm, as it is considered assault by threat.

Punishment for a class C misdemeanor assault is a maximum $500 fine, but if family violence is added, there could be increased collateral consequences.

Class B Misdemeanor – This rare conviction usually occurs as an assault on a sports participant during a game. This could include referees, players and other sport related officials.

Punishment for a class B misdemeanor assault is up to 180 days in jail and a fine up to $2,000.

Class A Misdemeanor – This conviction occurs if a person intentionally, knowingly or recklessly caused “bodily injury” to the complainant. Assault toward elderly is commonly tried as a Class A Misdemeanor.

Punishment for a class A misdemeanor assault is up to a year in jail and a fine up to $4,000.

Third Degree Felony – Instances of domestic violence can elevate any assault charge to a third degree felony. Instances of intoxicated assault are also (typically) tried as a third degree felony.

Punishment for a third degree felony assault is 2-10 years in prison and a fine up to $10,000.

Second Degree Felony – Assault charges being tried as a second degree felony can exhibit aggravated assault, domestic violence, or intoxicated assault. Being on a case-by-case basis, second degree felonies are charged based on the severity of bodily harm inflicted and the prior convictions of the assailant.

Punishment for a second degree felony assault is 2-20 years in prison and a fine up to $10,000.

First Degree Felony – This charge displays the most extreme bodily harm inflicted on an individual as a result of domestic violence, intoxicated assault or assault of a public servant. A first degree charge is the most serious assault offense and is typically charged with extreme displays of aggravated assault and danger to human life and/or assailants having prior convictions.

Punishment for a first degree felony assault is 5-99 years in prison and a fine up to $10,000.

How can “Family Violence” affect an assault charge?

An affirmative finding of family violence can drastically influence the outcome. If a case concludes with such an individual will be precluded from filing an expunction and/or non-disclosure.

Family Violence is defined under three distinct terms:

  • “Family Violence” – Violence toward those of relation by blood or marriage.
  • “Household Violence” – Violence toward roommates/household members regardless of relation.
  • “Dating Violence” – Violence toward a significant other in a romantic and/or intimate relationship.

This distinction can elevate a “simple assault” usually considered a class C misdemeanor to an “assault family violence,” which can be tried as a felony. Regardless of the extent of bodily harm, assault against a family member has extreme consequences in the State of Texas.

What is the difference between Battery and Assault?

Since these crimes are very similar, confusion is common between the two. In technical terms, assault occurs when there is a threat of bodily harm whereas battery is the act of inflicting bodily harm on an individual.

Though there is a legal distinction between the two in some states, there is no charge for battery in the State of Texas. Since battery occurs when harm is inflicted, the offense is charged as a serious form of assault instead.

How do prior convictions affect sentencing of assault?

Although assault punishment is determined on a case-by-case basis, “repeated offenders” receive enhanced penalties, as the State of Texas does not take lightly to repeat offenses.

Some examples of this enhancement include:

  • If the offender was previously convicted of a third degree or higher felony and now faces a second degree felony charge, the second degree felony will be sentenced as if it were a first degree felony.
  • If the defendant has a prior third degree or higher felony conviction and now faces a first degree felony charge, it will be sentenced as a capital felony, with a minimum of 15 years in prison.
  • If a defendant has two prior third degree or greater felonies committed in a series, then a new state jail felony will be punished as a second degree felony.

What can Gary Tabakman do to defend me?

Assault cases are very complicated, but the key to a strong assault case defense is understanding the law. Gary Tabakman has defended clients on many assault cases and knows how to fight for your rights, as he always works diligently to benefit his client. As an award-winning lawyer, Gary Tabakman will do everything to make sure you achieve justice.