Assault is a crime that can result in severe penalties in Texas. If you’ve been accused of assault, you need a skilled criminal defense attorney to represent you. In this post, we summarize Texas assault laws.
Texas Laws: Assault
An assault has occurred under Texas law when:
- Someone intentionally or recklessly causes physical harm or injury
- Someone intentionally threatens imminent physical harm
- Someone intentionally uses offensive or provocative physical contact against another person
As you can see, under these definitions assault does not need to be particularly violent. Instead, any offensive touching that is unwanted could potentially lead to assault charges.
Texas classifies assault as either a misdemeanor or a felony, with felonies carrying much stiffer penalties:
Class C Misdemeanor
When someone threatens harm but no physical injury occurs or when someone touches another person in a provocative or offensive manner. A Class C misdemeanor carries up to a $500 fine.
Class B Misdemeanor
When someone assaults someone because of a sporting event, e.g., umpires, players, or referees. A class B misdemeanor carries a fine up to $2,000 and six months in prison.
Class A Misdemeanor
When an assault causes physical harm, or any assault against a disabled or elderly person (even if it does not cause harm). A class A misdemeanor carries up to $4,000 in fines and up to a year in prison.
When a person physically harms a family member, date, public servant, emergency services personnel, or a security officer. It carries a fine of up to $10,000 and 2-10 years in prison.
When someone commits assault by brandishing a weapon or causing serious physical harm. Also called “aggravated assault.” A second-degree felony carries a fine up to $10,000 fine and 2-20 years in prison.
When someone commits an aggravated assault against a security officer, criminal witness, public servant, informant, or someone who reports a crime. A first-degree felony carries a maximum penalty of $10,000 in fines and a life sentence in prison.
Defenses to Assault
There are a few defenses you can raise which might allow you to beat the charge or possibly plead down to a less serious misdemeanor.
For example, you might argue that the state does not have sufficient evidence to convict you. The state must prove all criminal charges with evidence beyond a reasonable doubt, and they might only have an eyewitness who is confused about what they saw.
You can also raise self-defense. If someone attacks you first, and you reasonably feared that you would suffer bodily harm, then you can defend yourself by punching back at someone. To successfully raise this defense, you will probably need to testify about the event. It is also helpful if you have some witnesses who can state that you were attacked first.