Assault & Battery in Texas
Assault and battery refer to the threat of and the actual commission of violence against another person. Although they are among the most common violent crimes to be charged in the state, they carry the potential for severe penalties.
Defining Assault and Battery under Texas LawThe terms “assault” and “battery” are often referred to jointly or even interchangeably. They are, however, separate legal phrases. Generally, “assault” refers to threatening another person with harm, while “battery” refers to actually physically contacting and/or harming another person. Texas Penal Code section 22.01 charges both crimes under the umbrella term “assault.” The base crime of assault is chargeable as a Class A misdemeanor but may be charged as a felony if one of several specific factors applies.
A defendant can be convicted of assault if they:
- Intentionally, knowingly, or recklessly cause bodily harm to another person;
- Intentionally or knowingly threaten another person with imminent bodily harm; or
- Intentionally or knowingly cause physical contact with another person when they know or should reasonably know that such contact would be considered offensive or provocative.
Mere accidental touching does not constitute assault unless the defendant was acting recklessly (such as by throwing a hard object into a crowd). Nor can a defendant be charged with assault based on threats if they did not realize they were being threatening. The bodily injury caused does not need to be serious, however; even a simple cut or bruise can give rise to assault charges. More serious injury is likely to lead to more severe charges.
Potential Penalties for Assault and Battery in TexasThe penalties for assault and battery vary widely depending on the nature of the conduct, the nature of the alleged victim, the motivations of the defendant, and the amount of harm actually inflicted.
The base crime of assault based on threats or for non-injurious physical contact is chargeable as a Class C misdemeanor, punishable by a fine of up to $500. More serious charges are available under certain circumstances:
- If the alleged victim was elderly or disabled, the offense is a Class A misdemeanor.
- If the alleged victim was pregnant and the threats were made to induce them to have an abortion, the offense is a Class A misdemeanor.
- If the alleged victim was an athlete and the threats were made in retaliation for sports participation, the offense is a Class B misdemeanor.
The base crime of simple assault causing actual bodily harm is chargeable as a Class A misdemeanor, punishable by up to a year in jail. The defendant may be charged with “aggravated assault” with more serious penalties under certain circumstances, including:
- The assault involved choking the airflow from the alleged victim.
- The assault caused injury to a police officer or other public servant.
- The assault involved resisting a police officer or other public servant with the use of violence or a weapon.
- The assault involved the use of a weapon.
- The assault was committed against a pregnant person.
- The assault was committed against the defendant’s spouse or domestic partner.
- The offense committed was a hate crime.
Under these circumstances, the defendant can be charged with a third- or second-degree felony, punishable by two to ten and two to 20 years in prison, respectively. A defendant may be charged with a first-degree felony if the offense involved aggravated assault with a weapon or aggravated sexual assault. First-degree felonies are punishable by anywhere from five years to life in prison.
DisclaimerI am an Attorney-at-Law, licensed to practice law only in the states of Texas, Georgia and Mississippi only. The information contained in these answers is provided for informational purposes only, and should not be construed as specific legal advice. Further, it is not intended and it does not constitute or create an attorney-client relationship between Keith B. French Law, PLLC, and any recipients. No recipient of these answers should act or refrain from acting on the basis of these answers without seeking the appropriate legal advice on the particular facts and circumstances at issue from an attorney licensed in the recipient's state. Under Texas, Georgia and/or Mississippi ethical rules answers to questions might be considered as advertisement and therefore please consider the answers to the questions as ADVERTISING MATERIAL. For more information on hiring an attorney, please visit www.keithfrenchlaw.com.