If you’re facing Houston assault charges, it’s important to know everything you can about these charges, including what the different types of charges mean and what the potential assault penalties are if convicted.
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Simple assault is a charge that typically results from an act that didn’t actually cause physical harm or only caused minor injuries.
Assault as Defined by the Law
In general, assault is defined under Texas law as:
- Intentionally, knowingly or recklessly causing bodily injury to another person;
- Threatening someone in a way that causes them to fear for their safety; or
- Having physical contact with another person in a way that would reasonably be considered offensive or provocative.
Simple Assault Penalties
If a simple assault results only in minor injuries, it generally is charged as a Class A misdemeanor, with penalties of up to 1 year in jail and/or $4,000 in fines.
When the simple assault involves just threatening or touching, it is generally classified as a Class C misdemeanor with a fine of up to $500. It can be increased to a Class A misdemeanor if the threat was made against an elderly person, or to a Class B misdemeanor if made against a sports official such as a referee or umpire. A Class B misdemeanor conviction can result in up to 180 days in jail and up to $2,000 in fines.
In certain circumstances, a simple assault charge can be increased to a 3rd degree felony. This can happen if the assault is committed against:
- A public servant or government official.
- A security guard or emergency services worker.
- A family member or other person whom you have or previously had a domestic relationship with AND you have a previous domestic violence conviction.
If the assault charge is increased to a 3rd degree felony, the potential penalties are up to 10 years in prison and up to $10,000 in fines.
Answers to Your Assault Charge Questions in Houston
The first and most important thing you can do when charged with assault is call an experienced attorney, and avoid talking to the police or a prosecutor. Your defense attorney will examine and investigate the details of your case. In certain situations, this investigation may help your attorney convince the prosecutor to drop the charges against you. Read more about how to get an assault charge dropped in Texas.
Under Texas Self Defense Law, a person is justified in causing bodily harm to another, or threatening another with bodily harm when they reasonably believe it’s the only way to protect themselves against another’s use, or attempted use, of unlawful force. Assault is defined as intentionally, recklessly, or knowingly causing bodily harm to another, or threatening another with bodily harm. But the devil can be in the details, so you need a defense attorney on your side who knows how Texas’ self-defense laws apply in your case. Read more about the differences between self defense and assault in Texas.
An astute criminal defense attorney may be able to employ one of several defense strategies to get your assault charges reduced or dropped:
– The state violated your civil rights.
– You were acting in self-defense.
– The victim and/or witnesses are not being truthful.
– It was a case of mistaken identity — you were not the person who committed the assault.
Read more about possible defense strategies for assault charges in Texas.
If you’re facing a simple assault charge in Houston Texas, contact Houston assault attorney Lisa Shapiro Strauss for experienced legal assistance.