Assault charges can come in a variety of different charges and a countless factual circumstances. How a person gets charged, or what charge they will be facing will depend on the facts of the case. What happened? How severe were the injuries? Who was injured? How were they injured? What are the circumstances? Was anything resembling a weapon used in the commission of the assault? Most importantly, what is the evidence? What does law enforcement have that can prove that an assault was committed beyond a reasonable doubt? If you have been arrested for an assault charge, or if there is an assault charge looming, it is important to contact an attorney. Even at the investigation stage, it is very important to make sure you don't do anything that can compromise your case. A lawyer who is seasoned and experienced defending many kinds of assault charges can help guide you down the path to putting this case behind you, and getting your life back to normal. One key factor in any assault case is what does the victim want to do? In any assault case, the prosecutor handling the case will call the victim and get their input. What the victim says can determine what course of action the prosecutor takes. Criminal prosecutions are largely victim-driven, so this becomes veWhat are the Different Kinds of Criminal Assault? ry important. The desires of the injured party or the victim can affect plea negotiations significantly. Regardless of the factual circumstances, any assault case requires thorough preparation and skilled representation. If you are facing an assault charge, or someone close to you is facing an assault charge, call me to talk about your case.    

What is Assault? 

Assault is located in Section 22.01 of the Texas Penal Code. Assault is one of the most complicated statutes in the Texas Penal Code. This is because there are different kinds of assault and many different penalties. There is simple assault and aggravated assault, which is a more severe kind of assault. There is assault by choking. There is assault that depends on who the victim is, like assault family violence or assault of a public servant. The Texas Legislature has changed the law many times, and the result is that the law is a patchwork mess. To oversimplify things, there are essentially three ways to assault someone in Texas. These three kinds of assault are at the root of all assault charges. Here are the three basic ways to commit an assault:   

  • To cause bodily injury
  • To threaten imminent bodily injury
  • To cause offensive bodily contact 

The most commonly charged assault is assault bodily injury. Your charge may be either a misdemeanor or a felony. The criminal penalties range from a Class C misdemeanor all the way up to a first degree felony. The severity of the charge depends on a number of factors, including the severity of the damage to the victim, who the victim is, and how the assault happened. If the alleged victim is a family member or household member, that is very important fact that will affect the charge. The potential punishment can range from a simple fine all the way up to serious and long-term prison time. Assault convictions could result in the loss of crucial rights, and this is especially true if the alleged victim is a family member. One penalty that people do not often foresee includes the loss of the right to own a firearm. The result of an assault conviction can affect a person for the rest of his or her life. If you are facing any kind of assault charge, you need to consult with an attorney who handles these kinds of cases, who knows the nuances of hiring an aggressive criminal defense lawyer should be a priority. This page examines the assault statute and provides links to the specific kinds of assault statutes.  

What is the Texas Law on Assault?

Assault and battery is a phrase that is often used, and there are laws in many states on battery. What some states refer to as battery is just called assault in Texas. There is no criminal law on battery in Texas. The basic criminal statute on assault considers basically three different kinds of assault. The most commonly charged kind of assault is bodily injury or ABI. The assault law also considers threatening another person with imminent bodily injury, and causing physical contact. Here is the language from the statute on the three kinds of assault:

22.01. Assault.

To check out the actual letter of the law in Texas, click here.

Below is a quick rundown and summation of the three kinds of basic assault in Texas. 

  1. The first kind of assault, and the most common, is assault with bodily injury. This is assault that causes bodily injury against another person, including a married partner. Bodily injury means pain. This must be committed either intentionally, knowingly, or recklessly. It cannot be committed by accident, unless recklessness is proven.  
  2. The second kind of assault is about threats. It can be an assault if a person threatens another person, including a married partner, with imminent bodily injury. The requirement of imminence narrows the scope of what can be an assault when it comes to threats as opposed to causing actual injury. Imminence is required because otherwise this crime would be a restraint on speech, which is a no-no.  
  3. The third kind of assault is the least serious. This deals with physical contact. The physical contact is offensive or provocative, but there are no injuries.

As I noted above, assault bodily injury is the most commonly charged kind of assault. Assault with bodily injury is simply the kind of assault that occurs most often. Someone gets physical with someone else, and somebody calls the police. This is the most common scenario that is iterated throughout police reports. Assault bodily injury is a class A misdemeanor. A class A misdemeanor has some teeth to it. Class A and B misdemeanors will be set in County Criminal Courts or County Courts at Law. Class C misdemeanors are handled at the municipal level. If possible, it is very important to try and avoid a conviction. A conviction for an assault charge can negatively impact your life in a multitude of ways. A class A misdemeanor means that a conviction carries a potential range of punishment of up to a year in jail and up to a $4,000 fine. Threatening someone with bodily injury and causing offensive contact are Class C misdemeanors. Class C misdemeanors carry no potential jail time and carry a fine not to exceed $500.   

Who is the Alleged Victim?   

But who the alleged victim in an assault case is also very important. The identity of the alleged victim can increase your criminal charge to a felony. If the alleged victim is your spouse, someone who you live with, or are someone you are dating, or have dated, that person is a “family member.” That means that you will be charged with a third degree felony if either you have been convicted of one misdemeanor assault family violence before; or, if it is your first charge but there is there is an allegation of choking or strangling. If the alleged victim is a public servant, an ABI charge will also be charged as a felony. A public servant is someone who works for the government. Most often, this means police officers. Importantly, the public servant must be working as a public servant while the alleged assault takes place. The relevant part of 22.01 that deals with assault on family members and public servants is summarized below:

Assault that results in bodily injury is a Class A misdemeanor. However, it can be a felony under certain different circumstances. One, if the victim is a public servant. A public servant is someone who works for the government at the county or city level. This usually means a police officer but not always. Two, if the person being charged has been convicted once before for a Class A misdemeanor, the charge will be bumped to a third degree felony. Three, if there is an allegation that there was any strangulation or impeding contact with the person's neck or the person's breathing by blocking their nose or their mouth, that will also be a felony.     

Can the Victim Drop the Case?

Many people ask me if the victim can drop the case. The victim in an assault case has an important role in determining how the case unfolds. As mentioned above, this is a victim driven justice system. Prosecutors will listen to the injured party in an assault case. Prosecutors will evaluate and weigh their desires. What the victim wants can affect plea negotiations significantly. This depends on the circumstances of the case. What the injured party wants to do will be to either the benefit or the detriment of the defendant in any given case. In many of the cases involving people who are dating or married, the victim wants to drop the charges. For instance, in many cases involving two people who are dating one person will call the police intending to just stop the fight. The person who called the police never intended that an arrest or a criminal case arise. Things can get out of control very quickly. In these cases, there are things that can be done. Often, if the victim does not want to prosecution, they will come by the office and sign a sworn statement to that effect. In the course of plea negotiations, I will present this statement to prosecutors. This statement is called an affidavit of non-prosecution. These statements will hold weight and can result in a dismissal, although not always. Sometimes the prosecutor will have enough evidence and will decide to go forward despite the victim's wishes. In any case.       

What are the Different Kinds of Criminal Assault?

Chapter 22 of the Texas Penal Code outlines the assault criminal offenses in Texas. As mentioned above, an assault can come in many different forms. This will be determined both by how the injuries occurred and the severity of the injuries. Although there are many different variations of an assault charge in the Assault statute 22.01, there are also other charges that also appear in this chapter of the Penal Code. Below, I have listed many of these assault charges below and I have specific pages that deal with those offenses. Each page discusses that particular criminal charge at length, discusses the penalties as well as strategies for defending each charge.   

Fort Worth Assault Attorney in Tarrant County

If you are arrested anywhere in Tarrant County, your case will end up in downtown Fort Worth at the Tim Curry Justice Center. That is, unless you are charged with a Class C assault by contact. If this is the case, your case will be in the municipal court in whatever city the incident occurred. There are many different cities and towns in Tarrant County. Fort Worth is the County Seat. Of course, there are many cities across the county. You may live in Arlington or Keller. You may live in Grand Prairie or Crowley. No matter where you are charged, you will be going to court at the Tim Curry Criminal Justice Center in Fort Worth if the incident occurred in Tarrant County. Our office is in downtown Fort Worth, very close to the courthouse. If you are charged with a Class A or Class B misdemeanor your case will go to a Tarrant County Criminal Court. There are ten County Criminal Courts. If you are charged with a felony, your case will go to a Tarrant County District Court. There are also ten District Courts. Where your case ends up is something that nobody can control. Once your case is assigned to a particular court, that is where we will be. This can matter to your case, depending on who the judge is in that court. The magistrate judge initially sets a bond, but the judge in the court in which your case ends up can raise or lower that bond amount and set bond conditions as well.   

Call Me to Discuss Your Assault Case

There are always emotional consequences that accompany assault and family violence—particularly for crimes that can carry the stigma of a crime of violence. Often people will just hear the word assault and imagine the worst case scenario, when reality is likely much different. No case can be understood without looking at the facts of It can be a troubling and even embarrassing prospect, especially when the charges involve a person’s families and loved ones. These cases can be very serious. Criminal convictions can follow you around, especially with an assault conviction. This can make employers weary to hire you and landlords hesitant to rent to you. They can make it very difficult to find a job or even rent an apartment because of your criminal record. There are a multitude of possible results and outcomes in an assault case that avoid a conviction. As early as possible, please get in touch with me and we can gameplan your case. Please call me today to discuss your charge. I offer a free consultation and I'm happy to sit down and talk about your case with you.