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Is Assault A Felony In Texas?

By: Mark Diaz September 11, 2023 no comments

Is Assault A Felony In Texas?

Being charged with assault in Texas can lead to severe penalties and consequences. Learn more about assault charges in this article; if you have questions, our assault lawyers in Galveston can address them.

What Is Assault In Texas?

Texas state law defines assault as:

  • Intentionally, knowingly, or recklessly causing bodily injury to another person, including one’s spouse.
  • Intentionally or knowingly threatening another person with imminent bodily injury, including one’s spouse.
  • Intentionally or knowingly causing physical contact with another person when you knew or should have known that the other party would regard said contact as provocative or offensive.

Is Assault A Felony Or Misdemeanor In Texas?

How the assault is charged depends on the factors in the case and the severity of the assault:

  • Class C misdemeanor: If you threaten another person with bodily harm or cause physical contact offensively or provocatively, and there were no other aggravating factors.
  • Class B misdemeanor: If you commit assault against a sports participant during a performance or to retaliate for said performance.
  • Class A misdemeanor: If you cause bodily injury to another person and there were no other aggravating factors. However, assault can be a felony charge in these situations:

3rd Degree Felony

  • The victim is a public servant, and that person was lawfully discharging their duties. Or the act was in retaliation for an exercise of official power or act as a public servant.
  • The victim is a family member, household member, or dating partner if the assault was committed by interfering with breathing or circulation by applying pressure to the neck, throat, nose, or mouth.
  • The victim was someone who contacted the government for family services and was acting in their official duties.
  • The victim is a security officer acting within their scope of duties.
  • The victim was an emergency services worker and was acting within their scope of duties.
  • The defendant was previously convicted of an assault on a member of family, household, or someone in a dating relationship.

2nd Degree Felony

  • The offense was committed recklessly, knowingly, or intentionally against a peace officer or judge acting in the scope of their employment.
  • The assault was committed while exhibiting or using a deadly weapon or the assault caused serious bodily injury – or aggravated assault

1st Degree Felony

It is a first-degree felony if you commit aggravated assault against someone with whom you have a domestic relationship or the victim was a police officer, security guard, emergency worker, informant, or witness.

Penalties For Assault In Texas

  • Class C misdemeanor: Maximum fine of $500
  • Class B misdemeanor: Up to six months in jail and a fine up to $2,000
  • Class A misdemeanor: Up to one year in jail and a fine of up to $4,000.
  • Third-degree felony: Up to 10 years in prison and a fine of up to $10,000.
  • Second-degree felony: Two to 20 years in prison and a fine of up to $10,000.
  • First-degree felony: Five years to life in prison and a fine of up to $10,000.

Assault Charges In Texas Depend Heavily On The Victim

As the above information shows, there can be many assault charges, depending on the circumstances and the victim. For instance, someone who punches someone in a bar fight might face a lesser charge than someone who attacks an on-duty police officer.

If you were charged with assault and wonder what you face, remember what happened. What was your relationship with the victim? What were they doing when the incident happened? Were they working?

These questions may seem trivial, but Texas law stresses who the victim was and what they did when the assault happened. Usually, a victim with a specific position or relation to the defendant will face a more serious misdemeanor or felony charge:

Sport Participants

We all know things can get heated during a tight football, baseball, or basketball game. But a bad call or decision by a coach or referee never excuses violence. Texas law states that a fan or audience member who commits an assault against a sports participant, coach, or referee can be charged with a Class B misdemeanor.

Pregnant, Elderly, Or Disabled Individuals

Pregnant, elderly, or disabled people are more protected under Texas law than others. If you assault a disabled or older adult, you may face a third-degree felony charge. A similar charge can be filed if the victim is a pregnant woman. You also can be charged with a third-degree felony in this circumstance.

People With Official Positions

The job that the victim holds also can have a significant effect on the severity of the assault charge. For instance, assaulting a police officer on duty is a more severe offense than doing the same to someone, not a police officer. If you assault someone in any of these positions, you could face a Class A misdemeanor:

  • Peace officer
  • Judge
  • Public servant
  • Security officer
  • Emergency services worker
  • Child Protective Services worker

There are exceptions; the worker must have been discharging their official duties during the assault for elevated charges. For example, if the police officer was not on duty and is attacked on the street, elevated charges would not apply.

Spouse Or Domestic Partner

Unfortunately, their spouse or domestic partner in Texas often kills women. Domestic violence is a severe problem, and the state takes the matter seriously. That is why if you are the spouse or domestic partner of the victim, you may face an elevated assault charge. The incident will be considered a family or domestic violence crime if the victim is:

  • A member of the family
  • Household member
  • Spouse or significant other
  • Ex-spouse or significant other

If you commit domestic violence, it is a third-degree felony, and you can get between two and 10 years in prison. Federal law also states that a domestic violence offender cannot purchase or own firearms.

Defenses Against Assault Charges

No matter the degree of assault charge faced, being convicted will leave you with a permanent criminal record. This makes many aspects of life harder:

  • Employment: Most employers conduct background checks, so you can be denied employment if you have a charge or conviction on your record.
  • Housing: Landlords may have the right to refuse to rent if you have a criminal record.
  • Education: Getting accepted to school and getting loans can be challenging.
  • Child custody: You can lose child custody or visitation rights with an assault conviction.

These severe consequences emphasize the importance of devising the best defense strategy to fight or reduce the assault charge. The best defense for this charge depends on the circumstances and the alleged victim.

Your Galveston assault lawyer will review the case specifics and create a defense based on the evidence. Some effective assault defenses are:

  • Self-defense: You responded to a credible threat of harm or had a fear of harm. Also, you did not act first and could not avoid the situation.
  • Protection of another person or property.
  • The alleged victim gave their consent to the assault.

No matter the case’s specifics, a Texas assault charge is serious. If you face these charges, it is vital to take immediate action to avoid a conviction. An experienced Texas assault defense attorney will review these defenses with you and determine what makes the most sense in your situation.

The Texas Hate Crimes Act

An assault charge can be even worse if it violates the Texas Hate Crimes Act. If the assault is committed because of prejudice or bias, the punishment is increased to what is prescribed for the next highest offense category.

For example, a recent assault case involved two men using a social media app for gay men to set up meeting with an individual in his home. When they got there, they tied the man up, flashed a firearm, and assaulted him, while making derogatory statements about his sexual orientation. Then, they stole property from the home, including the victim’s car. They pled guilty to targeting the man for being gay and were sentenced to 20 years in prison.

They could have been only charged with simple assault if they had not used a firearm. But because they had a gun, it became aggravated assault with a maximum sentence of 20 years. However, they could have received a life sentence because it was a hate crime. Fortunately for the defendants, the judge decided not to impose this harsh sentence.

In Texas, you face a variety of harsh punishments if you are charged with assault, and they become even worse when the crime involves certain aggravating circumstances. But with the help of a skilled attorney, it is possible to have a favorable case outcome.

Contact Our Assault Lawyers In Galveston Today

Being charged and convicted of assault in Texas may mean jail time, fines, probation, and more. You will also have a criminal conviction on your record, making it harder to get and keep a good-paying job. But if you fight the charge successfully, it could be reduced or dismissed. If you were charged with assault, contact our assault lawyers in Galveston with Mark Diaz & Associates at (409) 515-6170 for a case review.

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