In Texas, depending on the specific behavior you are accused of, you could be charged with assault, aggravated assault, or deadly conduct for fighting with someone.
In this post, we’ll break down the three types of assault charges and their associated penalties so that you can fight back against your charge armed with the knowledge you need.
Texas Assault Charges
Also known as simple assault, this is when someone intentionally, knowingly, or recklessly threatens or causes bodily injury to another person.
The bodily injury may or may not require medical treatment. Examples include bruises, cuts, or scrapes that normally heal on their own.
Normally simple assault is a Class A misdemeanor with a penalty of up to one year in jail plus a fine of up to $4,000.
However, simple assault can be raised to a third degree felony if committed against persons of protected classes, such as certain family members or public servants. The charge can also be elevated if choking or strangulation is involved. A conviction will result in a sentence of up to 10 years in prison and a fine of up to $10,000.
Aggravated Assault in Texas
Aggravated assault is defined by Texas law in this way:
“intentionally, knowingly or recklessly causing serious bodily injury to another person,” or
“using or exhibiting a deadly weapon in the course of committing any assault crime, including threatening another with bodily injury or engaging in conduct that the victim likely will find offensive.”
Serious bodily injury is different from bodily injury in these ways:
- Requires medical treatment
- Causes permanent and serious disfigurement
- Causes impaired function or functional loss of a bodily member or organ
- Presents a substantial risk of death
- Causes death
If the defendant uses a deadly weapon during assault, the charge of aggravated assault automatically applies. Deadly weapons include knives and firearms, along with any other object used to inflict serious bodily injury.
Aggravated assault is usually charged as a second degree felony. A conviction will result in a sentence of two to 20 years in prison and a fine of up to $10,000.
In certain situations of aggravated assault against protected classes, the charge can be raised to a first degree felony. A conviction will result in a sentence of five to 99 years in prison and a fine of up to $10,000.
This charge can apply if the defendant’s reckless conduct with a firearm creates an imminent danger for another person to experience serious bodily injury. The victim need not suffer physical harm for this charge to apply – proof of reckless conduct is all that is needed.
The charge also applies for knowingly discharging a firearm at a vehicle, building, or house with reckless disregard for whether those spaces are occupied. This charge can also apply to certain forms of road rage.
Penalties for deadly conduct are a Class A misdemeanor with no discharge, but can be elevated to a third degree felony if the firearm was discharged.
As you might imagine, which crime you are charged with can greatly impact the defense strategy that your lawyer decides to use. In some cases, your best course of action may be to argue for deferred adjudication, restitution, and community supervision rather than incarceration. The first step is understanding the actual charge and determining whether your actions actually line up with it.
About the Author:
After getting his Juris Doctor from the University of Houston Law Center, Jeff Hampton began practicing criminal law in Texas in 2005. Before becoming a defense attorney, he worked as a prosecutor for the Tarrant County District Attorney’s Office – experience he uses to anticipate and cast doubt on the arguments that will be used against his clients. Over the course of his career, he has helped countless Texans protect their rights and get the best possible outcome in their criminal cases. His skill has earned him recognition from the National Trial Lawyers (Top 100 Trial Lawyers) and Avvo (Top Attorney in Criminal Defense, Top Attorney in DUI & DWI, 10/10 Superb Rating), and he is Lead Counsel rated.