"Assault" charges in Texas can range from a simple threats or fistfights to violent attacks with dangerous weapons. Under Texas law, you can be charged with assault resulting from an incident with no physical contact.
An act of assault can include intentionally, knowingly, or recklessly causing bodily injury to another person, threatening someone with bodily injury or causing physical contact in a manner considered offensive or provocative.
For a threat to rise to the level of a criminal assault, the threat has to put the person in reasonable fear of injury.
For the police to actually arrest you on the spot on an assault charge, they have to actually witness the act. If the police are not there to witness the assault, then they can write you a complaint (citation) or notice to appear in court, or they can seek an arrest warrant from a judge.
The exception to this is with domestic assault or domestic violence accusations, in which case the police in Texas are authorized to arrest you and remove you from the premises.
Under Texas Penal Code Section 22.02. an assault is considered an aggravated assault if serious bodily injury is caused, and/or a deadly weapon is used or exhibited in committing the assault.
"Bodily injury" does not necessarily require some sort of visible injury like a cut or bruise: in fact the legal definition includes mere physical pain. As a result, you can be charged with "Assault with Bodily Injury," if you are accused of merely slapping another person or pulling their hair.
The definition of "serious bodily injury" is more intuitive, meaning that the bodily injury "creates a substantial risk of death or causes death, serious permanent disfigurement, or protracted loss or impairment of the function of any bodily member or organ."
In Texas, assault and battery laws carry penalties ranging from a "Class C" misdemeanor (monetary fine of up to $500) to a second degree felony (two to twenty years in prison and a fine of no more than $10,000). The primary factors influencing which type of penalty is likely to be imposed.
Aggravated assault, on the other hand, is always classified as either a first or second degree felony; generally it is prosecuted as a second degree felony, except in the following circumstances:
- The victim is either someone living in the household of the defendant, related to the defendant by blood or affinity (including foster parents or foster children), or in a "dating relationship" with the defendant;
- The defendant is a public servant acting under his/her office as a public servant;
- The victim is a public servant and was acting under his/her duties at the time of the crime;
- The victim is a security officer on duty at the time of the crime;
- The defendant was in a motor vehicle at the time of the crime and recklessly discharges a firearm in the direction of a building, vehicle or habitation without knowledge of whether it was inhabited and causes serious bodily injury to a victim;
A conviction of second degree felony carries a penalty of two to twenty years in state prison and/or a fine of no more than $10,000.
If the conviction is for first degree felony, the penalty imposed may be between 5 to 99 years in state prison and/or a fine of no more than $10,000.
If you have been charged with criminal assault, including misdemeanor assault or felony aggravated assault, or if you are being investigated for state or federal assault charges, it is important to seek counsel from an experienced criminal defense attorney. For more information visit www.texasassaultattorney.com or contact Parnham and McWilliams at 713.224.3967 to schedule a free consultation.