What is the difference between assault and aggravated assault? If you’ve been accused of either, chances are that this is a question you’re going to bump into somewhere along your legal journey. That the two charges might run together in your mind makes sense: they seem to be used interchangeably in television shows, movies, and other media.

But are the two terms simply used interchangeably or is there actually a difference between the two? 

Assault and aggravated assault are different situations and different charges.These separate charges include varying levels of threats and bodily injury, as well as varying levels of penalties. Let’s discuss the difference between assault and aggravated assault in Texas and what these two charges can mean as far as possible jail time.

When does an assault become an aggravated assault?

Clearing the confusion about assault vs. battery 

But before we even get to the difference between assault and aggravated assault, it’s important to eliminate another source of potential confusion: the issue of battery. In other states, you may hear the term “battery” when assault is being discussed. Is battery the same as assault or is it different from both assault and aggravated assault? 

In other states, battery is considered a separate charge from assault. In Texas, however, what qualifies as battery in other states is also considered assault. You can certainly go to jail for actions other states define battery, but here in Texas, you would be going to jail on an assault charge.

What is assault in Texas?

A simple assault in Texas includes any situation where a person is threatened but not seriously physically harmed. These threats would lead someone to believe that they are in immediate danger; however, this does not mean that physical touch is completely out of the picture.

An assault could include a form of harassment such as poking, grabbing, or slapping, and it could include physical harm to the degree of scratches and bruises.

What is aggravated assault in Texas?

A charge of aggravated assault means that the person accusing you is claiming to have experienced a degree of serious bodily injury, and that this bodily harm was caused either intentionally or recklessly. Charges of aggravated assault may involve: 

  • Long-term injuries: These injuries could include anything from scarring and disfigurement to loss of senses (hearing/seeing) and broken bones.
  • Deadly weapon: When a victim is assaulted with a deadly weapon, this is usually considered a separate form of aggravated assault, whether the weapon was used or not. Keep in mind that a deadly weapon could be many different objects. This obviously includes knives and guns, but it could also include bats, heavy objects (like rocks or bricks), vehicles, and more.

Whether or not you’re charged with aggravated assault is often contingent upon who was harmed, why they were harmed, and how long that injury will last. So, what are examples of aggravated assault vs. simple assault? 

In many cases, giving someone a broken nose could be considered an assault charge. However, these charges could easily be bumped up to aggravated assault if, instead of a broken nose, a person’s arm was broken.

Charges could also be bumped up if the victim received a broken arm, or if the person received the broken nose part of a hate crime, or while being threatened with a gun. 

What’s the jail time for aggravated assault? 

There are a variety of situations that can be considered aggravated assault — but not all situations are created equally. Because of this, there are different penalty levels associated with an aggravated assault conviction. 

While assault is typically considered a misdemeanor, aggravated assault is often considered a first- or second-degree felony. If it’s considered a second-degree felony, you can get anywhere between two to 20 years in prison and up to a $10,000 fine (ex: serious bodily harm resulting in broken bones or long-term disabilities).

If you are charged with a first-degree felony, this can result in five years to life in prison (ex: you’re accused of domestic abuse with a deadly weapon resulting in serious injuries).

Keep in mind, the penalty could be worsened depending on the situation. For example, if the case involves a family member, public servant, or witness or if the act was a hate crime, these could all bring on harsher penalties. 

Charged with aggravated assault? You need quality representation

Understanding the difference between assault and aggravated assault is the tip of the legal iceberg when it comes to assault cases, If you’re wondering what to do if you’re accused of assault, the first thing you need to do is contact an experienced assault lawyer at a reputable law firm.  

Thiessen Law Firm’s Mark Thiessen is an experienced Houston assault attorney who can help you fight back against assault or aggravated assault charges. As a Board Certified attorney in Criminal Law, he can walk you through your charges and identify the simplest path to your best possible outcome. 

Give Thiessen Law Firm a call at 713-864-9000 or request a consultation online to get started today.

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Thiessen Law Firm

Mark Thiessen is an aggressive trial lawyer best known for his devotion to justice for his clients and high rank as a DWI Super Lawyer in Texas.