First-time assault and battery charges are always serious criminal offenses in Texas, but they come 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 know how to get an assault charge dropped in Texas, and are here 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. 

Does battery always include assault?

What is 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, we take a different approach to assault and battery charges in Texas, where what constitutes battery in other states is charged collectively as assault. Essentially, because there is no charge for battery in Texas, an assault charge can be classified at varying degrees of severity. 

Although the simpler system does complicate the assault charge itself, the details of an assault case remain the same as they would in any other state, and the ‘battery’ aspect remains important.

The types of assault charges in Texas

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

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. People are often caught off guard by the fact that they can be charged with assault without even touching another person, but the consequences are still incredibly severe. This is why it is necessary to work with a Houston assault lawyer who knows how to beat a simple assault charge if you plan on fighting for justice. 

Aggravated assault

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 include committing 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.

Examples of simple vs. aggravated assault and battery

Because the list of aggravating factors for assault cases is quite long, it might be helpful to review some examples of more common assaults. Some common examples of simple assault include:

  • 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).

Common examples of felony aggravated assault include:

  • 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 punishment for assault and battery in Texas?

Punishments for first-time assault charges in Texas vary significantly based on the details of the assault. For example, assault causing bodily injury while no aggravating factors are present is a Class A misdemeanor, while aggravated assault is a first-degree felony. The punishments for common assault charges are below.

ActChargeMaximum fineJail time
Threatening another person with bodily harm Class C misdemeanor$500N/A
Actually causing physical harm, or causing physical contact that is provocative or offensiveClass A misdemeanor$4,000Up to 1 year
Assault causing physical harm that impedes the breath of an individualThird-degree felony$10,000Up to 10 years in prison
Assault against a government official or public servant Third-degree felony$10,000Up to 10 years in prison
Assault causing serious bodily injurySecond-degree felony$10,000Up to 20 years in prison
Assault where the actor uses or exhibits a deadly weaponSecond-degree felony$10,000Up to 20 years in prison
Assault committed against a peace officer or judge while lawfully discharging an official duty, or in retaliation to an official dutySecond-degree felony$10,000Up to 20 years in prison
Aggravated assault against a police officer, public official, witness or informantFirst-degree felony$10,000Up to life in prison

As you can see, punishments are severe for assault in the Lone Star State, even for first-time assault and battery charges. Additionally, due to the nature of assault crimes, charges for assault are prosecuted incredibly aggressively in Texas courts. Sensitive cases require compassionate and determined attorneys — don’t just call any aggravated assault or domestic violence lawyer in Houston, call one that knows how to take your case to court and prove that you are not guilty. 

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.

Facing first-time assault and battery charges? Call Thiessen Law Firm today.

No matter the specifics, assault charges are always serious charges in the state of Texas. Even first-time assault and battery charges can come with life-changing penalties like long prison sentences, hefty fines, and being branded for life as a felon — if you’re convicted. In other words, don’t be convicted. Contact an assault attorney who knows how to take high-stakes cases to court and win them.

Mark Thiessen, the founder of Thiessen Law Firm, is a trial lawyer. He’s not the kind of lawyer who files paperwork and collects his fee, he’s the kind of lawyer who takes your case in front of a judge or jury and proves that you are not guilty. 

Mark 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, and help you put those assault charges in the rearview. If you or a loved one has been involved in an assault case call Thiessen Law Firm today at (713) 864-9000 or contact us online to begin fighting for your future. 

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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.