Assault vs. Battery in Texas

“Assault and battery” is a common phrase that gets thrown around in society making it sound like one crime. In many states assault and battery are two distinct offenses with different definitions and penalties. The word “assault” generally carries a meaning that involves threatening someone else with violence. The word “battery” generally carries the meaning that the threatened violence has actually taken place; the perpetrator has made physical contact against the victim with force.

In Texas, those two general definitions hold true. However, the crime of “battery” here in Texas falls under the general category of assault. Assault therefore carries various distinctions under Texas law; these distinctions are punished and even charged in different ways.

Texas Law Definitions of Assault

Under Texas Penal Code Title 5 Chapter 22, assault is defined in three ways as follows:

  1. “intentionally, knowingly, or recklessly” causing bodily injury to another, including one’s spouse
  2. “intentionally or knowingly” threatening someone with “imminent bodily injury,” including one’s spouse
  3. “intentionally or knowing” causing “physical contact with another when the person knows or should reasonably believe that the other will regard the contact as offensive or provocative”

As examples, you can be charged with assault when 1. intentionally punching someone in the face in a bar fight, 2. threatening to punch the other person in the face by raising your fist but not striking, or 3. by poking the other person in the chest in an offensive manner that you know will provoke the person.

The charge for causing bodily injury to another person under Definition 1 is a Class A misdemeanor unless the victim is a family or household member or a public servant such as a police officer, firefighter, or emergency medical technician doing his or her duty. In the case of the latter, it is a third-degree felony. A Class A misdemeanor is punishable by up to a year in jail and/or a fine of up to $4,000. A third-degree felony is punishable by up to 10 years in prison and/or a fine of up to $10,000.

The charge for assault that merely threatens another or that makes offensive or provocative contact is charged as a Class C misdemeanor. This charge is punishable by a fine of up to $500.

A Class B misdemeanor can be charged in the context of a sports event where you threaten someone during the event or in retaliation for the outcome of the event. A Class B misdemeanor is punishable by up to 180 days in jail and/or a fine of up to $2,000.

Aggravated Assault

The crime of assault can be elevated to “aggravated” under certain circumstances. These circumstances occur when the assault leads to “serious” bodily injury or when a dangerous weapon is present or is used in the incident. Serious bodily injury in Texas is defined as creating “a substantial risk of death or that causes death, serious permanent disfigurement, or protracted loss or impairment of the function of any bodily member or organ.” (Texas Penal Code Title 1 Chapter 1 Section 46)

You can be charged with a second-degree felony if you assault a family or household member through choking and have a previous similar offense of this nature. A second-degree felony is punishable by two up to 20 years in prison and a fine of up to $10,000.

You can also be charged with a first-degree felony when assaulting a family or household member or when assaulting a public official, police officer, or similar persons while on duty. A first-degree felony carries up to five years in prison along with fines.

Call Rodriguez & Gimbert for a Competent Defense

If you are facing any kind of assault charge in Bryan, College Station, or elsewhere in Brazos County, you can get capable legal help from Rodriguez & Gimbert. Our defenders share 45 years of legal experience in representing individuals accused of crimes and are committed to providing legal assistance of the highest quality.

Contact us at (979) 559-3599 for a free case evaluation today.