The Basics of Criminal Assault

Under Texas law, a criminal assault occurs if:

  • An individual has intentionally or recklessly caused physical harm or injury to another person.
  • An individual has deliberately issued threats of physical harm to another person.
  • An individual has deliberately used provocative physical contact on a person.

Being convicted of Texas assault charges may lead to hefty fines, jail time, parole, inability to qualify for certain jobs and loss of the right to own a firearm. If you’re facing assault charges, it’s important that you seek legal advice and representation from a reputable Houston criminal defense attorney.

A misdemeanor or a felony?

The circumstances surrounding the alleged crime as well as the specific regulations of the state in which the assault took place will determine whether the assault will be a felony or a misdemeanor. Under Texas law, for example, assault can be charged and prosecuted as a misdemeanor or a felony.

Types of Assault Offense Charges

Class C Misdemeanor Assault

An assault is deemed to be a Class C misdemeanor if:

  • You physically touch another person in a provocative or offensive way.
  • You issue threats of physical harm or injury although no physical injury transpires.

This charge attracts fines of up to $500.

Class B Misdemeanor Assault

This type of assault applies exclusively to sports situations. If an individual such as a fan assaults active sports participants such as referees, umpires, and players as part of revenge attacks because of a sporting event or during a game, the assault is rated as a Class B Misdemeanor. Note that this classification only applies to a situation involving a nonparticipant and a sports participant. This charge may attract fines of up to $2000 and a six-month jail sentence, or both.

Class A Misdemeanor Assault

In Texas, an assault that causes physical harm or injury to another person is classified as Class A Misdemeanor. Furthermore, an assault on the elderly or persons with disability is also rated as Class A Misdemeanor even if they didn’t suffer any physical harm or injury. The punishment may be a 1-year jail sentence or fines of up to $4000, or both.

 Third-Degree Felony

Despite the fact many simple assault cases are charged and prosecuted as misdemeanors, there are specific aggravating elements that may cause those charges to become a third-degree felony. These aggravating factors include:

  • An assault on a government official or public servant
  • An assault on a security officer or emergency services staff
  • An assault on a domestic partner or family member

The punishment for a third-degree felony may include up to ten years imprisonment and $10,000 fine.

Second-Degree Felony

This is the charge typically used for aggravated assault, which involves the use of a deadly weapon or an assault that results in serious physical injury. Second-degree felony assault also applies if you attack your dating partner or family member having previously been convicted of an assault. This charge carries a maximum of a 20-year jail sentence and fines of up to $10,000.

First-Degree Felony

This charge applies in cases involving aggravated assault against a security guard, a criminal witness, a public servant or an informant. This charge attracts fines of up to $10,000 and a potential life imprisonment.

Seek legal help

While a simple assault may appear like a minor offense, remember that a conviction may carry a jail sentence and a fine. Therefore, you shouldn’t waste any time in getting in touch with a criminal defense attorney.