Updated on May 22, 2023
In the State of Texas, assault charges are grouped into the categories of simple assault and aggravated assault. These charges can lead to serious consequences and should be taken seriously.
A simple assault charge refers to the accused intentionally, knowingly, or recklessly injuring someone else or threatening to do so. In other words, you can face a simple assault charge without ever touching your accuser.
Assault can take many forms, and not all of them involve violent actions. For example, an employer touching his or her employee inappropriately may qualify as a form of sexual assault.
Those who claim simple assault allege that the assault caused them to find the experience unpleasant, offensive, or even threatening. Depending upon the circumstances involved – and the criminal background of the accused – a simple assault charge can be either a misdemeanor or a felony.
The Cost of Conviction
If the simple assault in question causes injury, the charge is a Class A misdemeanor that carries up to one year in jail and fines of up to $4,000. If mitigating factors apply, assailants can instead receive a class B misdemeanor, which leads to jail time of up to 180 days and fines of up to $2,000.
If the simple assault charge involves the threat of injury, physical contact, or both (without bodily harm occurring), the charge is a Class C misdemeanor. This conviction carries no jail time, but it can lead to a fine of up to $500.
The judge can also order restitution to the victim, which amounts to reimbursing him or her for any resulting expenses incurred.
There are certain circumstances in which a simple assault charge can be elevated to a felony, including when the following situations apply:
The accused has a prior assault conviction.
The assault was perpetrated against a protected class.
The assault was perpetrated against a family member or romantic partner.
Further, a simple assault that leads to injury can be increased from a Class A misdemeanor to a third-degree felony charge if the accused knew that any of the following was true:
The victim was a public servant.
The victim was a government employee or contractor who was working at a correctional facility, secure treatment center, or rehabilitation facility at the time.
The victim was a security officer.
The victim was a member of emergency services personnel, such as an EMT or a firefighter.
A third-degree felony charge can also apply if the victim was a pregnant woman or if the incident was a repeat act of domestic violence or assault. A third-degree felony can lead to 2 to 10 years in prison and fines of up to $10,000.
Finally, a simple assault charge can be levied as a second-degree felony if the person harmed was a police officer or judge who was acting in accordance with his or her official duties.
If you are facing a criminal assault charge, it is essential to know what the implications are for your life. Speak with a McLennan County criminal defense attorney for guidance regarding your charges.
Aggravated assault is the crime of causing another person to be seriously injured, brandishing a deadly weapon during an assault, or both.
Serious injury in this context means that the injury results in a protracted loss. Consider these examples of protracted losses:
Impairment of a body part or organ
Death (or the substantial risk of death).
The Cost of Conviction
A Texas aggravated assault charge is a second-degree felony, and a conviction can lead to from 2 to 20 years in prison and fines of up to $10,000. If extenuating circumstances apply (such as domestic violence), it can elevate the charge to a first-degree felony, which can lead to a sentence of life in prison and fines of up to $10,000.
Common aggravated assault charges include the following offenses:
Choking someone else (or otherwise impeding the person’s breathing)
Committing assault with a prior conviction under one’s belt
Continual family violence
Sexual assault refers to any non-consensual, unwanted sexual contact that involves penetration, and such charges are often referred to as rape charges. In the State of Texas, there are also statutory rape charges that refer to specific forms of consensual contact between adults and minors.
The same sexual assault laws apply whether or not the two people involved are strangers, know each other, or are in a romantic relationship.
Sexual assault is not the only charge in Texas that relates to illegal sexual contact. To learn more about other illegal sexual contact charges, continue reading or contact a McLennan County criminal defense attorney.
Aggravated Sexual Assault
Aggravated sexual assault requires that certain additional factors be proven concerning the charge. In order for an aggravated charge to hold, the state must prove that – in addition to sexual assault or statutory rape – at least one of the following circumstances applies:
A weapon was used.
Violence or the credible threat of violence was used.
A date rape drug was used.
The victim was an elderly or disabled person.
The victim was under the age of 14 at the time.
Texas laws were updated in 2017 to include that the accused need not know the victim's age for the aggravating factor of being younger than 14 to hold. Additionally, the definition of date rape drugs was expanded to include any substance capable of impairing the victim’s ability to appraise the nature of the act or to resist the act.
Aggravated sexual assault in Texas is a first-degree felony, which carries a minimum prison term of 5 years. However, this minimum can be enhanced to 25 years if any of the following circumstances apply:
The victim was under the age of 6 at the time.
The victim was between the ages of 6 and 13 at the time, and the charge involved using or brandishing a deadly weapon, causing serious bodily injury, threatening human trafficking, or any similar conduct.
If the accused already has a conviction for a sexually violent offense on his or her record, a conviction for aggravated sexual assault could lead to a mandatory sentence of life without parole in Texas.
In 2017, Texas added a law addressing sexual coercion to its books that makes it illegal to incur monetary gain, to receive sexual services, or to obtain sexually explicit photos from someone via threats, coercion, or extortion or in exchange for not committing a crime against the victim.
Sexual coercion is typically charged as a state jail felony, but it can be elevated to a third-degree felony if the accused is a repeat offender.
The offense of indecent assault was added to Texas law in 2019, and it involves the accused engaging in any of the following (with the intention of arousing or gratifying his or her own – or someone else’s – sexual desire) without the other person’s consent:
Touching the anus, breast, or any other part of the other person’s genitals
Touching the other person with the anus, breast, or any other part of the accused’s genitals
Exposing or attempting to expose the other person’s genitals, pubic area, anus, buttocks, or female areola
Causing the other person to come into contact with the blood, seminal fluid, vaginal fluid, saliva, urine, or feces of another person
Indecent assault is charged as a Class A misdemeanor in Texas, which can lead to a sentence of up to one year in jail and fines of up to $4,000. To date, however, it is not considered an offense that requires inclusion on the sex offender registry.
Assault Family Violence
Domestic violence is termed assault family violence in the State of Texas, and it refers to any of the following actions in a domestic setting:
The use of force or violence that leads to bodily harm
The threat of bodily harm
Causing the victim to experience physical contact that he or she regards as provocative or offensive
In Texas, domestic violence applies to people in all the following kinds of relationships:
Currently or previously married couples
People who currently reside or formerly resided in the same household
People who are related by blood, adoption, or affinity, which can include foster parents and their foster children
Couples who are or were in romantic relationships
Family violence crimes include all the following charges:
Aggravated domestic assault
Continuous violence against the family
Violation of protective orders
The penalties for a domestic violence conviction can range from a Class C misdemeanor that carries a sentence of up to one year in jail all the way to a first-degree felony that can lead to a prison sentence of 5 to 99 years and to fines of up to $10,000.
The following factors generally determine how the assault family violence crime is charged:
The relationship between the accused and the victim
Whether or not the accused has any prior domestic violence convictions
Whether or not strangulation or suffocation was involved
Family violence assault charges can get complicated very quickly. Make sure your rights are protected by working with a skilled McLennan County criminal defense attorney.
Intoxication assault is closely associated with DWI (driving while intoxicated) charges. When such an offense leads to someone else suffering serious bodily injury, it can lead to the charge of intoxication assault. Intoxication assault is a third-degree felony charge, and a conviction can lead to 2 to 10 years in prison.
It is important to note that in the State of Texas, as in nearly every other state, motorists are considered legally intoxicated if their blood alcohol concentration (BAC) reaches .08 percent. Nevertheless, even if motorists’ BAC levels do not exceed the legal limit, they can be charged with breaking the law if the alcohol in their systems affects their ability to drive safely.
Assault on a Public Servant
Assault on a public servant is a serious crime in Texas, and the laws surrounding this crime apply to an exceptionally broad range of circumstances. In fact, an assault charge can be elevated to assault on a public servant even when no physical contact is involved, which makes it especially important to pay careful attention to this category of assault charge.
Assault of a public servant is a third-degree felony, and it must involve one of the following elements:
Intentionally, knowingly, or recklessly causing a public servant (or his or her spouse) to suffer bodily injury
Intentionally or knowingly threatening a public servant (or his or her spouse) with imminent bodily injury
Intentionally or knowingly causing physical contact with a public servant (or his or her spouse) that the accused knows or should reasonably know will be interpreted as being either offensive or provocative
In order for the charge to qualify as a third-degree felony, one of the following circumstances must apply:
The accused knew – or reasonably should have known – that the victim was a public servant who was engaged in lawfully discharging his or her official duty.
The accused was acting in retaliation against the public servant.
The accused was acting in response to the public servant’s exercise of official power or performance of an official duty.
Simply wearing an official uniform or an easily identifiable badge is considered enough for the accused to know – or reasonably believe – that the person in question is a public servant. In the State of Texas, all the following qualify as public servants for the application of this charge:
Emergency room personnel
Those who work in law enforcement, including the police
Texas takes the qualifier of the public servant a step further by including the following language in its definition of public servants: “[Public servants include] other individuals who, in the course and scope of employment or as a volunteer, provide services for the benefit of the general public during emergency situations.”
In other words, the term public servant can be applied broadly when it comes to Texas law.
If you are facing an assault charge, it is unique to your situation, but the most common defense strategies tend to fall into the following categories:
You acted in defense of someone else
You acted in defense of your own property
Bringing your strongest defense is paramount. As such, it is always wise to work closely with a skilled McLennan County criminal defense attorney. He or she will help you prepare the best possible defense and defend your rights throughout the criminal trial process.
Look to an Experienced McLennan County Criminal Defense Lawyer for the Help You Need
If you are facing an assault charge, Brett Pritchard at The Law Office of Brett H. Pritchard in McLennan County, Texas, is an intrepid criminal defense lawyer who is committed to skillfully employing his impressive experience and legal skill in defense of your rights and in pursuit of your case’s most beneficial resolution.