R. Todd Bennett, P.C.
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Fighting words and threats could lead to assault charges

Many people will get verbally aggressive even if they are not capable of physical violence toward another person. Whether it happens as the results of an escalating argument in a popular bar or as the result of a road rage incident, when one person threatens another person, that can lead to criminal assault charges.

It is a commonly believed myth that an individual must suffer severe injuries to press assault charges in Texas. While that may be true in the case of some assault charges, simple assault does not require serious physical injury. Educating yourself about the way Texas handles assault and how it defines assault can help prevent you from making a potentially serious mistake.

Assault involves causing bodily injury or threatening bodily injury

Kicking someone, shoving someone or punching someone could all be examples of assault under the law in Texas. However, you do not have to lay hands on someone to commit assault.

You can assault someone by striking them with an object instead of part of your body or by tripping them, resulting in bodily harm. Any action that you intentionally take to cause physical harm to another person could qualify as assault.

The language you use when talking to someone could also result in claims of assault. Texas also defines assault as intentionally or knowingly threatening another person with bodily injury. That definition also includes threatening someone's spouse.

Many times, assault charges relate to words spoken in anger face to face, especially if they lead to a fight later. However, with the rise of social media, it is possible for aggressive things you say online to constitute assault as well. The "empty" threats you make online could be assault if the other people believes they are credible threats.

Assault charges can have serious consequences

In general, assault charges related only to a threat of violence will result in Class C misdemeanor criminal charges. The potential penalties for a Class C misdemeanor include a fine of up to $500. Repeat offenses could result in more serious penalties in the future.

In some cases, such as threats that lead to a physical altercation or assault while in possession of a weapon, the penalties could also be higher. Now that you understand the potential for the words you speak to result in serious criminal charges, you will hopefully keep that in mind the next time a situation turns aggressive.

If you find yourself facing assault charges for an argument that got out of hand or something that you said online, you need to consider all of your options for criminal defense, such as claims of self-defense. The right approach can minimize the impact of the charges on your future.

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