The term assault usually conjures up images of one person striking or kicking another. However, you don’t actually have to touch someone to face an assault charge in Houston, TX. This comes as a surprise to many people who aren’t aware of the state’s laws. As you will soon see, you can be charged with both simple assault and aggravated assault based on mere threats. If you’ve already been charged, you should contact a criminal defense attorney in Houston as soon as possible. If you want some basic information in the meantime, continue reading.
Simple Assault Explained by a Houston Criminal Lawyer
Simple assault can take three forms in Texas. Under the Texas Penal Code 22.01 consists of:
- Knowingly, intentionally or recklessly causing an individual bodily injury.
- Knowingly or intentionally threatening an individual with imminent bodily injury.
- Knowingly or intentionally causing physical contact with someone you know or believe would find that contact offensive or provocative.
It is helpful to understand what some of the terms used above mean. Bodily injury can refer to pain, illness or physical impairment. In the case of simple assault, this involves minor injuries like cuts, scrapes, and bruises.
Recklessness refers to when an act is committed, not necessarily to intentionally cause harm, but without concern for the result. If you are aware that your actions could put someone at risk, but you continue anyway, this is recklessness. An example of this is pushing someone out of the way. You may not have intended for them to fall. However, if they fell and broke their arm, you could be charged with assault.
Offensive or provocative contact doesn’t cause pain or injury. However, it causes the victim to become upset or feel violated. This includes brushing up against someone suggestively or poking them during an argument.
Why Some Assault Charges May be Upgraded
Simple assault is usually a misdemeanor but there are times when it can be a felony. If you cause bodily injury to the victim, this is generally a Class A misdemeanor. However, it is a felony if you know the victim is a:
- Government contractor or a contractor’s employee working at a correctional, secure treatment or rehabilitation facility
- Public servant
- Security officer or emergency services worker or volunteer
Assault is also a felony if:
- One of the above victims was performing their duties at the time of the incident
- You assaulted the victim to get back at them for performing their duties
Simple assault which involves threats of offensive contact or physical harm is normally a Class C misdemeanor. However, it can be upgraded in certain circumstances. If the victim is a disabled or elderly person, the offense is a Class A misdemeanor. If you knew the victim was an athlete or official taking part in a sporting event it is a Class B misdemeanor. The same applies if you assault an athlete or official because of their performance in a sporting event.
A Houston Criminal Defense Attorney on Aggravated Assault
In Houston and elsewhere in Texas, aggravated assault refers to:
- Knowingly, recklessly or intentionally causing serious bodily injury to an individual
- Using or display a deadly weapon in the course of any type of assault. This includes threatening the victim with bodily injury or displaying offensive conduct.
Serious bodily injury includes broken bones, loss of a limb, disfigurement or any injury requiring hospitalization or surgery. If you cause or threaten this type of injury, the crime is considered aggravated assault.
Aggravated assault is usually a second-degree felony except in those circumstances where it is a first-degree felony. These are if you:
- Used a deadly weapon and caused serious injury to a relative, household member or current or former intimate partner.
- Were a public servant acting in your official capacity
- Knew the victim to be a public servant on duty or committed the assault in retaliation for them performing their duties
- Committed the assault in retaliation again an informant, witness or a person who reported a crime
- Knew the victim was a security officer on duty
- Shot at a building or vehicle from a motor vehicle with reckless disregard for if they were occupied and caused serious injuries
Contact Eddington & Worley Today for Help With Your Case!
If you’ve been accused of simple assault or aggravated assault, you need to contact a Houston criminal defense lawyer. The prison time for aggravated assault ranges between two and 20 years for a second-degree felony. For a first-degree felony, you can spend five to 99 years in prison. Even if you’ve been charged with simple assault you can spend up to a year in jail. There are also fines to be paid. You, therefore, need to ensure you have strong legal representation so you get the best possible outcome. Call us today to schedule a consultation.