First-time assault and battery charges are serious criminal offenses in Texas, with varying degrees of punishment depending on the nature of the assault and the defendant’s background. The severity of a first offense charge can vary greatly based on the specifics of the offense, for example, whether it was simple assault or aggravated assault.
The seasoned assault attorneys from Thiessen Law Firm are going to give you a look at what to expect if you have been charged with first-time assault and battery charges, plus explain some key differences between assault, battery, simple assault, and aggravated assault.
What is assault vs. battery?
It is important to first understand the difference between assault and battery. In most states, assault occurs when a person is threatened with serious bodily injury, and battery occurs upon any serious contact or actual sustaining of injuries. Assault and battery are distinct intentional torts (wrongful acts done on purpose) that are drafted in a way that allows the defendant to seek restitution on two counts.
However, Texas has its own approach to these charges. What constitutes battery in other states is charged collectively as assault in Texas. Therefore, knowing how battery is legally defined can help you understand the way that Texas assault charges vary by severity. Although the compound nature does complicate the assault charge – the general term ‘assault’ can’t really indicate the myriad degrees the charge can carry – the details of an assault case remain the same as they would in any other state, and the ‘battery’ aspect remains important.
Some assault and battery examples include:
- Hitting or threatening to hit another person with any type of weapon
- Threatening death while pointing a gun or weapon at a person
- Injuring an individual during a robbery
What are the different types of assault charges?
In Texas, basic assault charges can be categorized as either simple assault or aggravated assault. The type of assault you are charged with will dictate more about the severity of a first-time assault and battery charge than the number of offenses you’ve committed.
Here are the two types of assault charges in Texas:
Simple assault charge
A simple assault charge occurs when someone is threatened but no lasting harm to their physical body is done. This can mean initiation of unwanted physical contact (anything from harassment to minor physical harm), or just the threat to do so, including any situation wherein a person feels that they are in immediate danger. In Texas, many assault cases do not require violence or even physical touch to be considered assault.
Aggravated assault charge
What is aggravated assault? Aggravated assault (also referred to as aggravated battery or aggressive assault) occurs when someone claims to have sustained a high degree of serious injuries caused either intentionally or recklessly by another party.
Serious injuries are defined as loss or impairment of a body organ or member, function, or system, and of course disfigurement, dismemberment, or death. Some other aggravating factors are assault with a deadly weapon (use or brandishing of a deadly weapon during an assault), choking (impeding breath), and prior convictions.
There is also sexual assault, family violence, intoxication assault, and assault on a public servant. All of these count at the least as aggravating factors if not distinct and more serious charges. Due to the compound nature of assault and battery in Texas, it might be helpful to review some examples of more common assaults.
Examples of simple vs. aggravated assault and battery
Examples of simple assault:
- Threatening physical violence or harm against a person (can include verbal or attempted physical means).
- Throwing an object at a person (can be aggravated based on other circumstances).
- Unwanted touching or grabbing (without aggravating factors).
Examples of felony aggravated battery:
- Pointing a weapon at a person.
- Assault with the intent to commit another crime (such as robbery or felony sexual assault).
- Assault that leaves someone with a broken bone or any costly injury.
- Assault against any protected class (police officer, disabled person, elderly person).
What is the average sentence for simple assault?
Threatening another person with bodily harm or causing physical contact in a provocative or offensive way, while no injuries or aggravating factors are present, is a Class C Misdemeanor.
Causing bodily harm while no aggravating factors are present is a Class A Misdemeanor, carrying penalties of up to 1 year of jail time and a maximum fine of $4,000.
Committing either of these acts is a 3rd degree felony, carrying up to 10 years in prison and a maximum fine of $10,000, if perpetrated against:
- A person contracting with the government on official business (usually Child Protective Services).
- A public servant such as a judge or jury member, especially in retaliation for an exercise of political power.
Committing these acts is a 2nd degree felony, carrying up to 20 years in prison and a maximum fine of $10,000, if perpetrated against:
- A family member or partner
- Anyone, with prior offenses
- Anyone, with aggravating factors present
Committing aggravated assault is a 1st degree felony, which could mean life in prison, if perpetrated against:
- Police officers, security guards
- Emergency workers
- Public officials
- Witnesses, informants
How to beat an assault charge in Texas
Beating a first-time assault and battery charge can be anything but simple. Nevertheless, there are defenses that can help your case:
- Self-defense (an incredibly common defense for those facing an assault charge)
- Defense of others
- Defense of property
- Mistaken identity
- Failure to prove intent to harm, understanding of intent, or evidence of harm
The number one way to increase your chances of beating an assault charge, however, is to hire the best aggravated assault lawyer Houston has to offer. Assault cases, due to their incredible complexity and high stakes, demand a skilled defense attorney to match.
Looking for a top assault attorney in Houston? Call Thiessen Law Firm.
Regardless of the charge, assault charges are serious charges in the state of Texas that can come with life-changing penalties including long prison sentences and hefty fines if you’re convicted. Don’t wait to contact a seasoned attorney.
Mark Thiessen, the founder of Thiessen Law Firm, is Board Certified in Criminal Law by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization and is passionate about justice. He can get you on the road to your best possible outcome, putting those first-time assault and battery charges in the rearview.
If you or a loved one has been involved in an assault case, call us now at 713-864-9000 or request a case consultation online.
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