Assault and battery are two terms that many people use synonymously, but the truth is that these are actually separate legal terms. The common law definition of assault and battery is that an assault occurs when a person intentionally or knowingly places another person in apprehension of harmful or offensive contact, and a person has the ability to cause harmful or offensive contact, while battery involves a person intentionally or knowingly causing harmful or offensive contact to another person.
While many states have specific statutes relating to both assault and battery, Texas combines both crimes under the criminal statutes for assault and aggravated assault. Criminal charges in these cases can range from Class C misdemeanors all the way to first-degree felonies, and any person facing either charge will want to be sure they are working with an experienced Austin criminal defense attorney.
Texas Penal Code § 22.01 defines an assault as a person intentionally, knowingly, or recklessly causing bodily injury to another person, including their spouse, intentionally or knowingly threatening another person with imminent bodily injury, including their spouse, or intentionally or knowingly causing physical contact with another person when an alleged offender knew or should have reasonably known that the other person would regard the contact as offensive or provocative.
An offense under Texas Penal Code § 22.01(a)(1) will be a Class A misdemeanor, except that an offense will be a third-degree felony if it is committed against a person an alleged offender knew was a public servant while a public servant was lawfully discharging an official duty, or in retaliation or on account of any exercise of official power or performance of official duty as a public servant.
It can also be enhanced if the victim is a person whose relationship to the alleged offender is described by Texas Family Code § 71.0021(b) (dating relationship), 71.003 (family), or 71.005 (household) if it is shown at trial that the alleged offender was previously convicted of an offense.
The charges can increase if the alleged offense is committed by intentionally, knowingly, or recklessly impeding the normal breathing or circulation of the blood of another person by applying pressure to the throat or neck or by blocking their nose or mouth.
An offense is a third-degree felony if the offense is committed while the alleged offender is committed to a civil commitment facility and against an officer or employee of the Texas Civil Commitment Office while they are lawfully discharging an official duty at a civil commitment facility.
An offense is a second-degree felony if the offense is committed against a person the alleged offender knows is a peace officer or judge while they are lawfully discharging an official duty or in retaliation or on account of an exercise of official power or performance of an official duty as a peace officer or judge. There are other circumstances when assault can be a second-degree felony, as well.
A person commits an aggravated assault offense if they commit an assault as defined in Texas Penal Code § 22.01 and cause serious bodily injury to another person, including their spouse, or use or exhibit a deadly weapon during the commission of an assault. An aggravated assault offense is a second-degree felony, except that the offense is a first-degree felony if certain aggravating factors are alleged by the prosecutor.
There are many scenarios that can lead to assault charges and factors that can aggravate your charges. No matter what the prosecutor alleges against you, always seek help from a criminal defense attorney immediately.
Criminal convictions in Texas can carry a wide range of possible punishments. The consequences of an assault or battery conviction in Texas will depend on how a crime has been classified.
In general, assault and battery crimes can be punishable as follows:
Jail time is a possibility for most assault charges, though the right defense representation can keep you out of jail whenever possible. Your defense lawyer can negotiate for probation instead of incarceration or work to get your case dropped altogether. With your finances, freedom, and future at stake, you need the strongest possible defense for assault or aggravated assault charges in Texas.
Assault convictions in Texas can have severe collateral consequences that extend beyond the criminal justice system. Even after serving time in prison or paying fines, individuals with assault convictions may face barriers to housing, employment, education, and other essential aspects of daily life.
One of the most significant collateral consequences of an assault conviction in Texas is the potential loss of the right to own or possess firearms. Under federal law, individuals convicted of a felony or certain misdemeanor offenses, including domestic violence-related assault, are prohibited from owning or possessing firearms. This can have a significant impact on an individual’s ability to provide for themselves and their families, as well as their ability to engage in hobbies or activities that involve firearms.
In addition to the loss of firearm rights, individuals with assault convictions may also face challenges when it comes to finding employment or housing. Many employers and landlords conduct background checks as part of their screening process, and an assault conviction can make it more difficult for individuals to secure a job or a place to live. This can perpetuate a cycle of poverty and instability, making it difficult for individuals to rebuild their lives and move forward after serving their time.
Furthermore, an assault conviction can also impact an individual’s ability to access education and professional licensing. Many colleges and universities conduct background checks as part of their admissions process, and certain professions require background checks as part of the licensing process. An assault conviction can make it more difficult for individuals to pursue education and career opportunities, limiting their potential and contributing to ongoing socioeconomic inequality.
Assault convictions in Texas can have severe collateral consequences that extend far beyond the criminal justice system. These consequences can make it difficult to move forward, even after completing a court-ordered sentence. You want to avoid a conviction on your record whenever you can.
If you are facing assault charges, it is important to take action to defend yourself and protect your rights. Here are some steps to take to defend against assault charges in Texas:
Facing assault charges in Texas can be a challenging and stressful experience. However, by taking proactive steps to defend yourself and protect your rights, you can improve your chances of a positive outcome. Never assume that a conviction or jail time is inevitable. You have important defense options and rights in criminal court.
If you have been accused of committing an assault or battery offense anywhere in Texas, you will want to be sure that you retain legal counsel without any delay. The Law Office of David D. White, PLLC, has been defending people all over the greater Austin area against all kinds of criminal charges for nearly two decades.
Our firm’s founder is a former prosecutor who understands both sides of the aisle in these cases, and he is admitted to every state court in Texas as well as the United States District Court Northern District of Texas, United States District Court Eastern District of Texas, United States District Court Southern District of Texas, and United States District Court Western District of Texas. You can call (512) 369-3737 or contact our Austin criminal defense attorney online to schedule a free consultation.