When it comes to physical altercations, there is a lot of confusion among citizens in Texas regarding what criminal charges and penalties apply. Each situation is unique. However, the Texas Penal Code has clear rules regarding which charges individuals may face after a fight or similar situation.
Assault is the most common charge to result from a physical altercation. Of course, assault is a relatively broad term, which often includes verbal threats and physically threatening or intimidating behavior. The courts may consider any kind of unwanted physical contact assault.
Assault is a serious charge, but aggravated assault is a more significant criminal offense that carries even more serious penalties. If you worry that a recent situation could result in aggravated assault charges, it is important to familiarize yourself with the differences between assault and aggravated assault.
Aggravated assault often involves serious bodily harm
Unlike standard assault, which can include situations where threats are made but no physical contact occurs, most aggravated assault cases involve serious bodily injury. Charges of aggravated assault imply that the accused intentionally caused serious harm to another person either knowingly or recklessly.
Of course, what qualifies as serious bodily harm may vary. Typically, serious bodily harm will involve some kind of lasting injury. Broken bones, damaged organs and similar consequences of a physical fight could result in criminal charges of aggravated assault.
A few bruises or a broken nose usually will not qualify as aggravated assault, but again, the courts will examine each situation individually. A broken nose received by someone with hemophilia, for example, could present severe consequences, resulting in aggravated assault charges.
If the injury potentially causes a risk of death, impairment of bodily function, permanent scarring or the loss of an eye, the courts will likely also consider this serious bodily injury.
Use of a deadly weapon often results in aggravated assault charges
The presence of a weapon, such as a firearm or a knife, could also result in aggravated assault charges. Even if the weapon is not part of the fight, it’s presence can be enough to alter the charges.
The use of a weapon to threaten or intimidate another party is the one situation in which there may not be serious bodily harm but the end result will be a criminal charge of aggravated assault.
Depending on the circumstances and the previous criminal history of the person involved, charges of aggravated assault may be either 1st or 2nd degree felony charges. The consequences can be anywhere from two to 99 years in prison, as well as a fine of up to $10,000. In some cases, the injured party may have the right to seek compensation from their assailant.