When it comes to assault, states have their own sets of laws that define and set penalties for the crime. In Texas, assault could result in a Class C misdemeanor conviction, but it could also result in a first-degree felony conviction.
Here are the distinctions between the various assault charges.
The definition of assault
There are three different ways a person can commit assault. It could be an intentional threat of bodily injury, either of a spouse or someone else. There is no requirement for the involvement of physical contact. However, if a person does cause physical harm to someone else on purpose, that is assault, too. An individual may also face assault charges if he or she knows someone would believe that contact is provocative or offensive and the individual initiates such contact anyway.
If the assault causes someone to sustain a serious injury, or if it involves a weapon, the charge may be aggravated assault.
Misdemeanor assault charges
The threat of physical harm or offensive or provocative contact can lead to a Class C misdemeanor, as long as there are not any aggravating factors. The penalty may be a fine as high as $500.
The conviction may be a Class B misdemeanor if the victim is participating in a sporting event and the assault takes place during the performance, or it happens afterward in retaliation for the participant's performance. In addition to a fine of as much as $2,000, this conviction results in as many as 180 days in jail.
A Class A misdemeanor, which may include up to $4,000 and one year in jail as penalties, involves bodily injury without an aggravating factor. Offensive or provocative physical contact with an elderly individual is also a Class A misdemeanor.
Felony assault charges
The offense becomes a third-degree felony if the victim is one of the following:
- A public servant doing his or her duty in an official capacity
- Someone who lives with the individual, such as a family or household member
- A person who is in a dating relationship
- An employee or contractor performing specific family services for the government
- A security officer performing his or her job duties
- An emergency services worker performing his or her job duties
The penalty for assault against one of these individuals is a fine as high as $10,000 and a prison sentence of as many as 10 years.
A felony in the second-degree results in between two and 20 years in prison and up to $10,000 in fines. These penalties could be due to aggravated assault; assaulting a member of the household or the family, or with whom someone is in a dating relationship, or committing a second offense against one of these individuals; or choking or smothering someone.
It may be a first-degree felony if the victim of aggravated assault is one of the following:
- Someone in a domestic relationship with the individual
- An emergency worker
- A witness or informant to a crime
- A police officer or security guard
- A public official
A person who receives a first-degree felony conviction may have to pay a fine, and he or she will serve a prison sentence ranging as low as five years to as much as a life sentence.