Simple assault in Texas is defined in Tex. Penal Code Ann. §22.01. and consists of intentionally, knowingly or recklessly causing bodily injury to another person; intentionally or knowingly threatening another person with imminent bodily injury, or intentionally or knowingly causing physical contact with another that the offender knows or reasonably should know the victim will find provocative or offensive.
Any injury such as a broken bone, disfigurement or loss of a limb that requires surgery or hospitalization is a considered “serious bodily injury”; simple assault involves only minor bodily injury like a cut, scrape, or bruise. In fact, assault does not even require actual physical contact with another individual: simply threatening another person with violence may be considered assault if that person has a reasonable fear that the act will be committed.
In addition, any abusive, violent, coercive, forceful, or threatening act or word inflicted by one member of a family or household on another can constitute a domestic assault. In Texas, domestic violence ranges from saying unkind or demeaning words (verbal assault) to physical actions such as grabbing a person's arm, hitting, kicking or choking them. Although domestic violence most often refers to violence between married or cohabiting couples, it may also refer to violence against other members of a household such as children or elderly relatives.
An attempted assault is defined as attempting to cause serious physical harm resulting in significant injury. Examples of this include physical harm to a person or another person's unborn child and engaging in sexual conduct as a known carrier of a virus that causes acquired immunodeficiency syndrome.
In Texas, Assault can be a Class C Misdemeanor, a Class A Misdemeanor or a Felony;
"Simple Assault" generally falls under the Class C Misdemeanor charge. A regular Class A Assault is where a person “causes bodily injury to another”, meaning pain. For example, if someone pushes you, but it did not hurt, they may be charged with simple assault. If they push you and it hurts (even if there is no visible injury) they may be charged with a Class A misdemeanor assault.
The Class C Misdemeanor offense of simple assault is punishable by a fine only up to $500. It is possible to be charged with a simple assault involving domestic violence. A Class A Misdemeanor is punishable up to one year in county jail and a $4,000 fine. Aggravated Assault or an enhanced domestic violence assault is a second degree felony punishable by 2 to 20 years in prison and up to a $10,000 fine.
When an assault is charged under the misdemeanor category, a law enforcement officer cannot arrest an individual without seeing them actually commit the assault. This does not mean you cannot be prosecuted for the assault. An officer can arrest an individual without seeing the assault, if the assault involves domestic violence.
Every arrest does not necessarily mean that the individual is guilty of committing simple assault; every case has its own facts and circumstances. The required intent can be met based upon recklessness; if the defendant is aware of some risk, but disregards the risk, they can still be liable for assault.
If an individual believed that an act is necessary to prevent harm to themselves or to protect their property from being stolen, they could be found to not have committed an assault: this self-defense argument can sometimes overlap and be used if an individual was defending/protecting another individual. Another defense against assault charges is that the actions were accidental if they were not intentional, knowing, or reckless. When the assault charge arises from threats, arguments can be raised that the complainant misinterpreted the actions of the accused.
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