Assault charges in Texas range from a fine only Class C Misdemeanor all the way to a First Degree Felony. I hear many people say they were arrested for assault but don’t have any idea what kind of assault until a lawyer sits down and explains to them the difference between all the charges. This post seeks to help you understand the nature of your Assault case and what are some collateral consequences of a conviction.
Assaultive Offenses are explained in Chapter 22 of the Texas Penal Code. Sexual Assault offenses are also found in this chapter, but those are beyond the scope of this post. Section 22.01 is the general assault offense that makes it an offense to “intentionally, knowingly or recklessly" cause bodily injury to another. However, you can be charged with a class A misdemeanor assault without ever making contact under this section by only threatening imminent bodily harm. The more serious the injury, then the higher the level of offense. For example, choking the victim is a third degree felony. If serious bodily injury is inflicted, or the use of a deadly weapon is proven, then the offense is enhanced to a second degree felony and in other severe cases, a first degree felony.
The level of the offense also varies based on the relationship to the alleged victim. Assaulting a public servant (police officer) is a third degree felony. Same thing if the victim is an on duty security officer or Emergency Medical Technician. Causing serious bodily injury to an elderly person, disabled person, or child is a first degree felony if done knowingly or intentionally.
As you can see, there are many tiers of assaultive offenses. Different levels depending on the severity of the injury caused, the relationship to the victim, the age of the victim, and the identity of the victim.
One of the most common assault offenses we see is known as Assault Family Violence. This offense also carries some of the most debilitating collateral consequences. “Family Violence" is a term used to define the relationship of the actor with the victim. If the relationship falls under the definition of section 71.002 et seq. of the Texas Family Code, then the offense is a class A misdemeanor if bodily injury (as opposed to ‘serious bodily injury’) is caused. If the Court makes a family violence finding, then more consequences are added beyond the statutory punishment designated for a class A misdemeanor. Once a family violence finding is made, the actor may never own or possess a firearm, may never be employed as a peace officer under federal law, and if the actor is ever charged with the offense subsequently, then the charge is automatically enhanced to a third degree felony. If a person is convicted of any type of assault, they are typically disqualified from most types of residential leases. This means that an assault conviction will likely prevent you from ever leasing an apartment or house. One of the most problematic consequences of an Assault Family Violence charge/conviction is the issuance of a Protective Order. There are two types. An Emergency Protective Order may be issued prior to your release from jail and can last between 30 and 60 days (90 days if a deadly weapon is used) under the Texas Code of Criminal Procedure. There are also Family Code Protective Orders. Protective Orders impose conditions to prevent you from going within a certain distance of an address or person. They limit contact with the alleged victim, by prohibiting any contact and limiting communication. Violation of a Protective Order itself is an offense that you can be charged with committing. It is classified as a Class A misdemeanor for the first offense.
Accordingly, being charged with an Assault case is extremely complicated and requires a lawyer who is familiar with the nuances and statutes that apply. Contact me directly if you or someone you know has been charged with an Assault in Texas.