We frequently hear the terms assault and battery used interchangeably or used together as one phrase. However, most people do not understand that, in Texas, assault and battery are actually two different and distinct criminal charges. These offenses both carry a wide range of penalties, which can be severe. It all depends on your intention and the amount of bodily contact that occurs. In this article, we will take a closer look at Assault and Battery in Texas.
Table of Contents
- Texas Definition of Assault
- Texas Definition of Battery
- Penalties for Assault and Battery
- Assault and Battery Defenses
In Texas, assault and battery are actually two different and distinct criminal charges.
Texas Definition of Assault
Assault is defined as threatening another person with bodily harm. Assault can also be charged if the person had a reasonable belief that they were in immediate danger from your actions. For example, if you throw a rock or other object at someone but it misses them, it could still be charged as assault if they felt they were in danger.
If the assault results in serious injury to another person, you could face a charge of aggravated assault. The same is true if you use a weapon to hurt someone. The prosecutor will take into account the various aggravating or mitigating factors when deciding how to charge your offense.
3 Categories of Assault
- You knowingly, intentionally, or recklessly cause bodily injury to another person, including your spouse.
- You intentionally or knowingly threaten someone with imminent bodily harm.
- You purposefully or knowingly cause physical contact with someone when you know they would consider the contact provocative or offensive.
Texas Definition of Battery
Battery is considered a more serious form of assault and can be charged when any bodily contact results in an injury. Battery is defined as applying physical force to someone unlawfully, resulting in bodily harm or contact of an offensive nature. The factor that takes an assault charge to the level of battery is whether you intentionally made contact with the other person to cause them harm.
What Counts as Bodily Injury?
The definition of bodily injury in Texas is extremely broad, as it is defined as almost anything that causes pain. Since pain is a subjective factor, the victim’s claims are taken into account, as well as an understanding of what a reasonable person would consider painful. If the person is very young, very old, frail, or disabled, what causes them bodily harm will be different from what hurts a non-disabled person in their 20s or 30s.
Penalties for Assault and Battery in Texas
There are several different degrees of assault, the severity of which depends upon the nature of the attack. The more serious the assault (or battery), the more serious the assault charge could be and the harsher the corresponding punishment. Specific penalties for a conviction for either assault or battery include:
- Class C misdemeanor: Fines up to $500.
- Class B misdemeanor: Jail term of up to 180 days and fines up to $2,000.
- Class A misdemeanor: Up to one year in jail and $4,000 in fines.
- Third-degree felony: Up to 10 years in prison and fines up to $10,000.
- Second-degree felony: Between two and 20 years in prison, plus fines up to $10,000.
- First-degree felony: Between five years to life imprisonment in a prison and fines up to $10,000.
Although Texas considers assault and battery offenses as separate, you can still be charged with both at the same time.
First Degree Felony: Aggravated Assault
According to Texas Penal Code Chapter 22, if you commit aggravated assault against the person you are dating or married to, it is charged as a first-degree felony. This is also true if your charge is for an assault against a public official, emergency worker, police officer, security guard, witness, or informant.
In addition to facing these consequences of a felony conviction, the law allows your victim to sue you in civil court for their medical bills, as well as their pain and suffering, and potentially other damages depending on the facts of the case.
Defending Yourself Against an Assault or Battery Charge in Texas
Regardless of whether your alleged crime is an assault or battery, the elements necessary to beat an assault charge will be the same. Some common defenses to assault charges in Texas include:
- Self-defense: You may argue that you felt threatened or in imminent danger and needed to defend yourself. You must show that the force you used was reasonable and necessary.
- Defense of others: If you believed you needed to protect another person, you could argue that your actions were reasonable and justified to prevent harm against them.
- Defense of property: Sometimes called “Stand Your Ground,” Texas law allows you to protect your property when you feel it is in imminent danger of being damaged or stolen.
- Consent: If you have proof that the person consented to your actions, such as participating in a fight, you could argue that you are not to blame. Consent is not available as a defense against statutory rape (Texas Penal Code Chapter 21).
If you are arrested for assault, it is important to understand whether your charges indicate an actual battery or a lesser assault offense. This is where your defense lawyer will investigate and examine the evidence against you to fight back against the state’s charges.
One important thing to remember is that the burden is on the state to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that you are guilty of these charges.
Contact an Experienced Assault and Battery Attorney Today
As you can see, a charge of assault or battery can quickly develop into a serious situation for you. This is not a criminal charge that you should try to face alone. You need a knowledgeable and skilled Texas criminal defense attorney on your side to guide you through the process. They can assess your circumstances and develop a customized strategy to obtain the best outcome possible for you.
A highly qualified criminal defense attorney will use every method possible to preserve your innocence in the minds of the judge and jury. The prosecutor will want to make an example of you, but your lawyer will work with them before and during the trial to secure the best deal possible. They will use motions to dismiss, negotiate a plea bargain, and introduce evidence to minimize or remove blame on your part.
Do not take the risk of going into a criminal trial without top-notch legal representation. The best way to do this is to get in touch with an experienced assault and battery attorney as early in the process as possible.
At J.D. Silva & Associates, we know everyone deserves the strongest defense they can build, and we are ready to help you. Our experienced assault and battery lawyers can begin working with you as soon as you are charged. We keep you from making mistakes that could damage your case, ensure your rights are protected, and may even be able to get your case dismissed.
Contact the assault attorneys at J.D. Silva today to discuss your legal options.