Intentionally causing bodily injury or initiating unwanted bodily contact (or threatening someone with either) is considered assault. Due to the violent nature of the crime and the ease with which a fist fight can escalate to something much more serious, Texas has categorized different types of assault that range in severity from a misdemeanor to a first-degree felony. If you’re facing assault charges, it’s important to understand the distinction between these degrees as well as their penalties. As defined by Texas state law, the different types of assault are:
- Simple Assault. Simple assault is the most common type of assault tried by courts and is defined as any sort of assault that involves unwanted contact or fear of contact which does not result in bodily injury. This type of assault is considered a Class C misdemeanor and can result in a $500 fine.
- Assault Causing Bodily Injury. This type of assault causes a minor injury like a bruise, black eye or bloody nose. If you are involved in a fist fight or any other physical altercation, you will most likely be charged with assault causing bodily injury. The crime is considered a class A misdemeanor and is punishable – potentially – by up to a year in jail and a $4,000 maximum fine.
- Assault Family Violence. If you assault or threaten your spouse, domestic partner or roommate, the charge of simple assault is automatically upgraded to assault family violence. While the first incident is charged as a class A misdemeanor, you are automatically eligible to have a restraining order filed against you by your victim. Additionally, if a judge determines that family violence has occurred, any subsequent charge of assault family violence will automatically be enhanced to a third-degree felony, which is punishable by up to ten years in prison and a $10,000 fine.
- Assault on a Public Servant. Assaulting a public servant, security guard or emergency services worker while they are on duty is also considered a third-degree felony.
- Aggravated Assault. Causing serious bodily injury or using any sort of weapon to assault someone is considered aggravated assault. This is one of the more severe crimes as determined by the penal code. While standard aggravated assault is considered a second-degree felony punishable by up to 20 years in prison, aggravated domestic assault and aggravated assault on a public servant are both first-degree felonies. These call for a minimum sentence of five years in prison, or a maximum of life without parole.
An assault conviction can ruin your reputation, and it is always a major red flag for anyone who needs to view or examine your personal record. If you are facing assault charges, let an Austin criminal defense lawyer fight for you. With years of experience on your side, it’s possible to reduce the severity of your charge – and sometimes the case can be dismissed altogether.