Aggravated Assault vs. Assault: What Is the Difference?

In 2017, there were over 800,000 aggravated assaults. There are numerous different kinds of assault including aggravated, simple, and sexual.

Commonly, we hear aggravated assault and assault. But, what is the difference? Keep reading to learn the differences between aggravated assault vs. assault and what general intent means.

General Intent Crimes

Assaults are usually general intent crimes. This means that the only requirement was that you intended to commit the act. Assault falls under this category because the prosecution only needs to prove that you “intentionally or recklessly touched a person in a harmful or offensive manner” to be convicted of battery. 

The result of the action does not matter. The prosecution does not have to prove that you were seeking a result. They only have to prove that you did in fact commit the act. You do not need to know that you are committing a crime.

Aggravated Assault vs. Assualt

We often hear these two terms. However, most people don’t understand the difference. It’s important to be aware of the specifics especially if you are facing charges yourself.

Having a good understanding of what both of these charges mean is the first step in creating the best defense for your case. 


Penal code 22.01 of Texas includes the specifications regarding an assault. An assault can be defined as when someone intentionally, knowingly, or recklessly causes physical harm to another.

You do not have to make physical contact to have committed an assault. The act of threatening and doing some act to follow through with that threat would be enough.

This type of charge includes some sort of threat and act that would serve as an indication of intent. The victim also needs to have feared that bodily harm was imminent.

Domestic abuse is another charge that warrants a third-degree felony charge. This charge is applicable if the victim is a domestic partner or a family member. 

Assault can be as simple as poking someone in the chest or grabbing someone. That’s why it is always important to stay calm, conduct yourself appropriately, and consider the worst-case scenario.


Battery is a common term most people have heard. In most states, this legal term refers to the actual act of violence while assault is the threat of the act.

Some other states treat these as two separate charges. In Texas, they are one and the same.

Aggravated Assault 

Aggravated assault is a much more serious offense. In Texas, penal code 22.02 covers aggravated assault. It is defined as someone intentionally, knowingly, or recklessly causing serious bodily harm to another or uses or exhibits a deadly weapon during the act.

A deadly weapon is defined by Texas as a weapon that is made to cause death or serious injury. This could be anything including a gun, a knife, a brick, a mace, and more. There are plenty of things that can do major harm to someone and some people can get very creative.

In fact, one interesting case from Frisco included HIV being classified as a deadly weapon. This man was charged with aggravated assault because he knowingly and recklessly spread the virus without the knowledge of his partners.


The punishment for assault greatly varies. This depends on the severity of the offense and your own history. Each circumstance will carry its own elements that may worsen or lessen the consequences.

Possible classifications are as follows:

  • Class C misdemeanor – fine up to $500
  • Class B misdemeanor – up to 180 days jail time, fines up to $2,000
  • Class A misdemeanor – up to 1 year jail time, fines up to $4,000
  • 3rd-degree felony – up to 10 years prison, fines up to $10,000
  • 2nd-degree felony – 2 to 20 years prison, fines up to $10,000
  • 1st-degree felony – 5 years to life prison and fines

Aggravated assault will typically land you jail time while a simple assault may not. There are also additional consequences for aggravated assault. This includes losing your right to vote and purchase a firearm. 

Additional fines are possible. Financial obligations may include medical bills, property damage, time off work, and counseling. 

Possible Defenses

Any assault charge is a serious one. There are a wide range of possible defenses when facing assault charges but every situation is unique. The most common are self-defense and consent but there may be other avenues to building your case.

Self Defense

The law protects those who are acting in self-defense. People may defend themselves from threats and violence without consequences.

The force that is used in defense cannot go beyond the threat of violence they are facing. The force needed to end the threat of violence is a defense.

For example, you may not shoot someone who is coming at you with just their fists. 


There are a few instances where consent may be a possible defense. This states that the victim consented to the actions that were committed. Typically, this is used in cases that involve sexual acts.

Establishing proof of consent can be difficult since it’s often an intimate situation where one person’s story doesn’t match another.  Proving your innocence may rely on obtaining any real proof that the accuser was willing to submit to the conditions.  This is where innocent people can wind up in serious legal trouble.  

Getting Legal Help

If you have been accused of or charged with assault, it’s important to have the right people on your team. Finding a trusted aggravated assault lawyer can help you get the best results from legal proceedings.

They will be able to help build your aggravated assault defense case. These professionals will guide you through the process and keep you informed about the laws.

Understanding the Differences

Understanding the differences between aggravated assault vs. assault is important if you or someone you know is facing charges. Getting an experienced and trusted aggravated assault lawyer is your first step in building a successful defense case.

We would love to help you! Contact us today for help with your legal troubles.