What is the Difference Between Assault and Aggravated Assault in Texas?
There is a big difference between assault and aggravated assault in both the definition and the penalties you may face if charged.
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The Texas Department of Public Safety’s most recent Texas Crime Report found that 62.5% of Texas violent crimes are aggravated assaults. But did you know that there’s a difference between assault and aggravated assault?
If you’ve recently received an assault charge in Texas, you may have come across this distinction. And the distinction is important. Whether you’ve received a simple assault or aggravated assault will determine how much jail time you receive and the fines you owe.
Criminal defense attorney Matt Alford knows how difficult it is to navigate the Texas Penal code. That’s why we’re bringing you this guide.
Want to know the consequences you stand to face after getting charged with assault in Texas? Check out this article for everything you need to know.
What’s the Difference Between Assault and Aggravated Assault in Texas?
Texas Penal Code differentiates between assault and aggravated assault based on the severity of the situation. Most assault cases in which either a weapon wasn’t present or only minor harm was caused are charged as misdemeanors.
If you assault someone with a weapon, odds are you will receive an aggravated assault charge, which is a felony in Texas. The same goes for an assault that causes significant harm or death to another party.
We’re going in-depth on misdemeanor and felony assault charges next, so you better keep reading.
Misdemeanor Assault 101
The more common type of assault charge is a misdemeanor. In Texas, you may also hear this charge referred to as battery or assault and battery.
Depending on the severity of the assault that took place, it may be charged as a Class A, Class, B, or Class C misdemeanor. In general, a misdemeanor assault is one of the following:
- The charged intentionally, knowingly, or recklessly caused bodily injury to another party
- The charged intentionally or knowingly threatened another party with bodily injury
- The charged intentionally or knowingly made offensive or provocative physical contact with another party
The first type of assault is known as Assault with Bodily Injury. In Texas, Assault with Bodily Injury may also be referred to as simple assault. Simple assault is usually a Class A misdemeanor.
In Texas, the second type of assault is called Assault by Threat. This type of offense comes with a Class C misdemeanor charge. However, it may be charged as a higher offense if the assault was against a senior citizen or disabled person.
The third type of assault is referred to as Offensive Touching. Texas law charges Offensive Touching as a Class C misdemeanor assault. Individuals charged with Offensive Touching against elderly or disabled parties may result in a higher misdemeanor offense.
Class A Misdemeanor Assault Penalties
Class A misdemeanors are the most serious type of misdemeanor in Texas. You can get charged with a Class A misdemeanor if you steal a vehicle, carry a firearm without a license, or participate in prostitution.
Charged with Class A assault in Texas, such as Assault with Bodily Injury? You’ll have to pay up to a $4000 fine, spend up to one year in the county jail, or both.
Class B Misdemeanor Assault Penalties
In Texas, examples of Class B misdemeanors include making false police reports, criminal trespassing, and possessing 2 ounces or less of cannabis.
A Class B misdemeanor is the second most serious type of misdemeanor you can get in Texas. A Class B assault charge can earn you up to 180 days in the county jail. Plus, you’ll have to pay a fine of up to $2000.
Class C Misdemeanor Assault Penalties
Class C misdemeanors are relatively common charges in Texas. Public intoxication charges, most traffic tickets, and some simple assault charges qualify as Class C misdemeanors.
Texas Penal Code describes Class C misdemeanor convictions as having no “legal disability or disadvantage.” That means you won’t have to forfeit any of your legal rights if you’re charged with a Class C misdemeanor.
While Class C misdemeanors don’t require jail time, these charges still come with a hefty fine. You’ll have to pay up to $500 if you’re charged with Class C assault in Texas.
Aggravated Assault: Explained
The Texas Penal Code defines an Aggravated Assault charge as an assault using or threatening to use a deadly weapon. The assault must also have caused serious bodily injury to the other party.
A deadly weapon is considered an object or device that could cause death or injury. Of course, this definition includes firearms. Meanwhile, the state of Texas defines serious bodily injury as an injury that causes:
- A significant risk of death
- Permanent disfigurement
- Loss or impairment of organs
- Loss or impairment of any other body part
If you’re charged with Aggravated Assault in Texas, keep reading to learn what kind of fines and jail sentences you can expect.
Aggravated Assault Penalties in Texas
An Aggravated Assault charge is a second-degree felony. Individuals charged with felony assault must serve a 2–20 year sentence in the Texas Department of Corrections. Some individuals may be forced to pay up to $10,000 as well.
In some cases, aggravated assault is charged as a first-degree felony. First-degree felonies incur even greater penalties. This includes a 5–99 year prison sentence and up to a $10,000 fine.
Charged With Assault in Texas? Call Defense Attorney Matt Alford
The difference between assault and aggravated assault in Texas is that the former is a misdemeanor while the latter will incur a felony charge. Misdemeanors require fines and, sometimes, time spent in county jail. Meanwhile, a felony assault can earn you up to 99 years in prison and a $10,000 fine.
Have you received a misdemeanor or felony assault charge in Houston, Texas? You need a lawyer who’s experienced with cases like yours. Call Houston criminal defense attorney Matt Alford today and let us help make your case.