How is assault defined in Texas?
If you are facing an assault charge, you need to understand the potential consequences of the offense, as well as exactly what it is that the prosecutor will try to prove in the case against you. In order to know the answer to those questions, it is essential to have an understanding of how the crime of assault is defined under Texas law. In this situation, the Law Office of Matthew Shrum can help. Mr. Shrum will explain the charges, and he will outline an intelligent strategy for your defense.
There are many different types of assault charges in Texas, and some of them are more serious, and carry harsher penalties, than others. Under section 22.01 of the Penal Code, the crime of assault consists of:
- Recklessly, intentionally, or knowingly causing bodily injury to another person.
- Threatening another person with bodily injury, either knowingly or intentionally.
- Intentionally or knowingly causing bodily contact with another person, where you know (or should know) that the other person will find the contact to be offensive or provocative.
Without more, it is a class A misdemeanor (#1 above), or a class C misdemeanor (# 2 and #3 above). But additional factors can complicate things substantially, and can affect both the level of the charge and the potential sentence in the event of a conviction.
Variations in assault charges
Not all assault charges are equal. Additional factors affecting the severity of the charge and the consequences include, in the case of assault involving bodily injury:
- Bodily injury to a public servant during the discharge of his or her duties. Third degree felony.
- Bodily injury in some domestic violence Third degree felony.
- Bodily injury in domestic violence cases involving strangulation. Third degree felony.
- Bodily injury to employees and others providing services in jails, juvenile detention centers and certain other facilities. Third degree felony.
- Bodily injury to a security officer. Third degree felony.
- Bodily injury to emergency services personnel. Third degree felony.
In some cases, these offenses can be even charged as a felony of the second degree.
Where the assault consists of threats, or offensive or provocative contact, its classification may also change. For example:
- Against an elderly or disabled person. Class B misdemeanor.
- Against a sports participant and by a non-participant, where the participant is acting as a sports participant. Class B misdemeanor.
Clearly, there are a large number of possible variations in an assault charge that can affect the classification and penalty associated with the crime. They include the nature of the conduct, the status of the person charged, the status of the alleged victim, the relationship between the parties, and other factors. In some situations, the offense may also be covered, and charged, under more than one statute.
Assault vs. aggravated assault
Most people would assume that aggravated assault is a more serious crime than simple assault, but may not understand the reasons why, or the ramifications of this distinction. Under the Texas Penal Code, aggravated assault consists of an assault which (a) causes serious bodily injury to another, or (b) involves the use or exhibition of a deadly weapon. Unlike simple assault, aggravated assault is generally a second degree felony. Additional factors in some cases could lead to the offense being charged as a first degree felony.
Other assaultive offenses
Under the assault statute, there are a number of other crimes that are including under the general heading of assault. They include:
- Sexual assault and aggravated sexual assault.
- Injury to a child, elderly person or disabled person.
- Child abandonment and child endangerment.
- “Deadly conduct.” Recklessly engaging in conduct that places another person in danger of imminent injury.
- Terroristic threats.
- Aiding suicide.
- Consumer product tampering.
- Leaving a child under the age of 7 in a vehicle for more than 5 minutes, if the child unattended by someone 14 years of age or older.
- Harassment of a person confined in a correctional facility. For example, causing contact with blood or other bodily fluids.
These offenses involve wide-ranging conduct, have classifications from minor misdemeanors to serious felonies, and punishments that could range from a relatively small fine, to many years in prison.
Austin assault defense lawyer
As in other areas of criminal law, it takes more than simply being an attorney to establish and carry out a successful defense strategy in an assault case. Your attorney must know the differences among the charges, some of which may be subtle. And he must know how to investigate and analyze the facts in your case, how to identify and develop any defenses you may have, how to negotiate with the prosecutor, and how to prepare your case for trial if an acceptable resolution is cannot be reached.
Matthew Shrum is an Austin criminal lawyer who has the experience, talent and commitment you want when you are facing an assault charge. He will work hard to protect your rights, with the goal of a dismissal, a reduction in the charge, or a not guilty verdict. If you have been charged with assault, arrange for a free consultation by calling the Law Office of Matthew Shrum today.