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What Options Do You Have When Facing Assault and Battery Charges in Houston?

What is Assault and Battery?

Assault and battery are recognized as two separate charges. However, Texas recognizes assault and battery as a modern legal term, combining two separate charges. “Assault” is the act of causing someone reasonable, imminent fear, threat, or harm. “Battery” is the act of physically harming a person to any degree. The combination of these crimes as a singular crime means that a person can be charged with assault for threatening another person despite no physical contact occurring. Assault and battery are also considered intentional torts, meaning that these actions can be tried in civil court for monetary or emotional restitution.

The State of Texas recognizes an act as an assault if someone intentionally and knowingly commits the following:

  • Intentionally, knowingly, or recklessly causing bodily injury to another, including his or her spouse.
  • Intentionally or knowingly threatening another with imminent bodily injury, including his or her spouse.
  • Intentionally or knowingly causing physical contact with another when the offender knows or should reasonably believe that the other will regard the contact as offensive or provocative.

An officer can only arrest someone with misdemeanor assault if the officer is present and witnesses the crime. Domestic violence is an exception to this rule, with no observation of crime needed.

The State of Texas recognizes misdemeanor classifications for assault as:

  • Class C Misdemeanor – threatening someone with bodily harm or making physical contact considered provocative or offensive. This is typically done with no other “aggravating” factors. Examples include brushing against someone during an altercation, placing a hand on another’s arm, or sexual advances. An assault charge can also be considered Class C if the victim seriously believed themselves to be in physical danger based on threats by the defendant.
  • Class B Misdemeanor – committing assault against a sports participant during a performance or in retaliation for a performance
  • Class A Misdemeanor – causing bodily harm to another without any other “aggravating” factors or making physical contact with an elderly person in a provocative or offensive manner. This class of assault usually accompanies physical altercations that result in minor injury, with or without physical evidence of contact, so long as there is some proof linking the assault to pain.

The State of Texas recognizes any felony assault as aggravated assault. Additionally, any assault resulting in significant injury or where a deadly weapon was used during the execution of the crime is considered aggravated or felonious assault.

A 3rd-degree felony assault charge involves threatening or harming:

  • An acting public servant while he or she is performing official duties.
  • A member of one’s family or household or a romantic partner when there are no convictions for similar offenses or if the offense was committed by intentionally or recklessly choking the victim
  • A government contractor performing his or her official duties
  • A security officer performing his or her official duties
  • Any first responder or emergency services personnel performing his or her official duties

A 2nd-degree felony assault charge involves:

  • An offense against a family or household member or a romantic partner
  • An offense against a family or household member or a romantic partner and has previously been convicted of a similar offense
  • Intentionally, knowingly, or recklessly stopping the breathing or blood circulation of another by choking or strangulation

A 1st-degree felony assault charge involves:

  • A romantic partner
  • A public official, police officer, emergency worker, security guard, witness or informant

A deadly weapon is defined as any object that can deal lethal damage, such as a firearm, car, blunt or heavy object, rope, etc.

How are assault charges penalized in Texas?

Class C misdemeanor – a fine of up to $500

Class B misdemeanor – up to 180 days in jail and a fine of 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 – 2 to 20 years in prison and a fine of up to $10,000

First-degree felony – 5 years to life in prison, including a fine.

What are Common Defenses that Help in Assault Cases?

While there are a few common defenses that are traditionally used, the best one involves the right attorney. Other defenses are:

  • Self-defense
  • Defense of others
  • Defense of property
  • Mistaken identity
  • Consent (i.e., participating in a fight)
  • Failure to prove intent to harm, understanding of intent, or evidence of harm

Most of the listed defenses are considered affirmative defense cases, meaning the defendant admits fault but defends that there was a legal reason for committing the assault. In some cases, a judge may grant the defendant deferred adjudication on the grounds of entering a guilty plea. Deferred adjudication means the court will impose certain requirements, such as rehabilitation or probation periods, and a sentence will be imparted afterward. This will usually decrease the crime’s penalty. Failure to meet the requirements of adjudication typically results in immediate sentencing by the judge. First-time offenders or misdemeanor cases are the typical recipients of deferred adjudication. Aggravated assault by a repeat offender or against family members is rarely granted deferred adjudication.

Do I Need a Lawyer?

Facing any type of criminal charge is a taxing and emotional process. Here at Cory Roth Law Office, we know the ins and outs of the law and are ready to get your life back. Call us today at 832-400-4133 or contact us for more information!

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