Assault by contact charges are different than simple assault or aggravated assault charges. With assault by contact, the allegations indicate that a violent act took place. Assault by contact means that someone was physically contacted by an aggressor in an offensive, or harmful way.
Texas Laws Regarding Assault with Physical Contact
Texas has a statute that makes it illegal to assault someone with a contact, even when it does not cause any physical harm. According to Texas Penal Code, Section 22.01(a)(3), a person has committed the offense of assault if the person:
“Intentionally or knowingly causes physical contact with another when the person knows or should
reasonably believe that the other will regard the contact as offensive or provocative.”
The offense is a Class C misdemeanor punishable by up to a $500 fine. Penalties are enhanced and the class of offense elevated if the person assaulted is an elderly person aged 65 or over or if the offense involves allegations of domestic violence.
This type of criminal charge is serious, and the consequences of a conviction (especially if it’s classified as elder abuse or domestic violence) can be grave. Contact an experienced assault by contact lawyer at the Hampton Law Firm today to schedule a free case evaluation.
Prosecutor Must Prove Intent to Prove Assault by Contact Charges in Texas
The very language of the statute requires the prosecutor to prove, beyond a reasonable doubt, that the act was intentional and knowingly made in order to offend or provoke the victim. An accidental push or nudge may be annoying to the person contacted, but without proof of intent to offend or provoke, there is no criminal conduct.
If you are in a heated argument with someone, and poke their chest with your finger, you may be charged with assault by contact. You intentionally had physical contact with someone and should reasonably believe that that person will regard your finger poking them in the chest as offensive. You should also reasonably believe that if you knowingly and intentionally poke a person in the chest will provoke or offend the person you are poking.
Why You Should Fight the Charges
If you think that since the offense is “only” a Class C misdemeanor, and the fine is “only” $500, you should just pay the fine and be done with it, think again. There are long-term ramifications that come with having an assault conviction on your record even if it is a misdemeanor. It may make it difficult to get a job, particularly a job of your choice. It may even effect your ability to be promoted in your current job. Employers do not look kindly on employees who are prone to violence, which a conviction for any kind of assault implies. Additionally, some landlords will refuse to rent to someone with an assault conviction, even a misdemeanor assault conviction, since it implies violence. Having a conviction for any violent crime can have severe limitations on your private life, limit your professional and employment opportunities, and mar your reputation.
If you are convicted of any other offense in the future, the penalty for that offense may be enhanced based on a prior conviction and possibly enhanced to a greater degree if the conviction is for a violent one like assault. I strongly urge you to hire an assault by contact defense lawyer.
Possible Defenses for Assault With Physical Contact
One possible defense is that it did not happen. You may have had no intent to offend or provoke the alleged victim and no person would have reasonably interpreted your act as one that would offend or provoke. You may also argue that you were acting to defend yourself or your property.
Contact a Defense Attorney for Assault by Contact in Tarrant County
To ensure the best possible outcome to any assault by contact charge you may be facing in Tarrant County, seek the counsel of an experienced and aggressive defense attorney. Jeff Hampton, a former Tarrant County Prosecutor, has the experience necessary to help keep you and will work diligently to prevent this charge from becoming a conviction. Contact the Hampton Law Firm today to schedule a free and confidential case review with our criminal defense firm.