In many states, assault and battery are treated as separate crimes. Assault and battery have different criminal definitions and thus result in distinctive penalties in the states that prosecute them separately. But what about the states that do not separate the two offenses? If they have different legal definitions, what are the consequences for committing them in the states that do not separate the two? For example, Texas does not distinguish between assault and battery. Therefore, it is important to know the distinction between the crimes in the event you or someone you know faces these allegations.
What Is the Difference Between Assault and Battery?
An action is considered an “assault” if someone threatens another person with “imminent” bodily injury. In other words, no physical harm has to be done in order for someone to be charged with assault in the states that separate the two. For instance, if an individual threw a punch and missed the intended party, the offender could be charged with assault since imminent danger was assumed by the potentially injured party. Battery charges require physical contact, which can be deemed “offensive” or “injurious.” These two offenses are so closely intertwined that Texas penal code 2201 does not distinguish between the two. Assault and battery are classified as one offense and labeled under the term “assault.”
What Are the Different Classifications for Assault Charges in Texas?
Although assault and battery are one-and-the-same under Texas legislation, assault charges vary greatly depending on the offense alleged. There may not be an official distinction between assault and battery, but any “imminent body injury” caused without true physical harm has a much smaller consequence than that of full physical injury. Aggravated assault is the highest level and constitutes serious physical harm with the use of a weapon. Listed below are the different penalties that alleged offenders may face for assault in Texas:
Class C Misdemeanor: An individual who threatens another person with unwanted physical contact or harm without causing any physical harm can be charged a $500 fine. A common example of this is someone pointing a finger and then poking someone in a heated conversation.
Class A Misdemeanor: An individual who causes physical harm to another person (without any other aggravated actions present) can face up to one year in confinement and a $4,000 fine.
3rd Degree Felony: If the act of assault is committed against the following individuals, offenders will face 2 to 10 years in confinement and a $10,000 fine:
A “public servant” while they are lawfully discharging an official duty or in response to the public servant’s actions.
A family member, dating partner, or household member is choked or the offender has a previous conviction of a similar offense.
A security officer, government employee, or emergency services personnel while they are fulfilling their job duties.
2nd Degree Felony: If assault is committed against the following individuals or the following actions occur, offenders can face 2 to 20 years in confinement and a $10,000 fine:
The victim is a family member, dating partner, or household member.
This is not the offender’s first assault offense.
The offender knowingly and intentionally chokes the victim.
1st Degree Felony: If the following individuals are victims of aggravated assault, the offender can face 5 to 99 years in confinement or life imprisonment in addition to a $10,000 fine:
Relationship partners, police officers, public officials, witnesses, security guards, emergency workers, or informants
The state of Texas may not differentiate between assault and battery, but these types of offenses are taken very seriously. Being charged with assault can damage many areas of your life, including parental responsibility and parenting time, your employment status, and your criminal record as a whole. Whether the charge is a felony or misdemeanor, the consequences can change your present and future. If you or someone you know are facing assault charges, the experienced criminal defense attorneys at BCP Criminal Defense Attorneys can help. Contact our office for a fee consultation.