Many legal terms are commonly misused and confusing to people. Despite the rise of the police procedural show, with everyone talking law enforcement jargon, certain terms still confuse many people. For those who find themselves potentially facing criminal charges, having an accurate understanding of what that offense entails can make a big difference.
Assault is one such term that people often find confusing. Many people associate assault with the act of harming another person. While that isn’t inaccurate, it also isn’t thorough. People accused of assault may believe that they have an airtight defense, because they never actually hurt the other person involved. However, harming someone isn’t actually necessary for the state to file assault charges against you.
Assault also includes making any kind of serious threat
Since many people face assault and battery charges at the same time, some people conflate battery, which involves intentionally causing bodily harm to another, with assault. In Texas, the legal definition of assault includes both intentionally causing bodily harm to someone else or threatening someone else with bodily harm.
It also involves initiating contact with someone who will find said contact offensive. In other words, you don’t have to actually hit someone to face assault charges. Touching someone inappropriately could be sufficient grounds for an assault charge.
In fact, you never have to touch the other party. You could make threats over the phone, via text, or on social media, and if those threats warn of bodily injury to another person or one’s spouse, that could also be assault under the law.
Assault charges can carry serious consequences
In most situations, the penalty for assault, which is a Class A misdemeanor generally, is up to a year in jail and fine of as much as $4,000. However, in some cases, assault charges will actually be felony charges. The charges receive this upgrade if the victim of the assault was a public servant performing an official duty, someone who is a family member under the state’s Family Code if there was a previous offense or it involved strangulation.
The penalties for a third degree felony are much higher than those for a misdemeanor. They could include between two and 10 years in prison and a fine of as much as $10,000. In other words, if you face charges related to threatening a public servant, you could spend up to a decade in jail without ever actually hurting someone.
Assault charges in Texas are serious. Not only are there criminal consequences, there is also a criminal record to consider. These charges can have a lifelong impact on the person who faces them. Making informed decisions about your defense and how to proceed in court can improve the potential outlook for those facing criminal charges.