Texas Assault and Battery Laws
Overview of Texas Assault and Battery Laws
Many states treat assault and battery as two separate crimes, whereas some treat them as the same. In Texas, the elements for a case against a defendant for assault and battery are the same. Prosecutors must prove one of the following:
- The defendant intentionally, knowingly or recklessly caused bodily injury to the victim;
- The defendant intentionally or knowingly threatened the victim with imminent bodily injury; or
- The defendant intentionally or knowingly caused physical contact with the victim when the defendant knew or should have reasonably believed that the victim would regard the contact as offensive or provocative.
The crime of assault may be elevated to the crime of aggravated assault in certain circumstances. Aggravated assault includes the same elements of the crime of assault, but it involves either the use or exhibition of a deadly weapon during the act of assault, or it can involve causing serious bodily injury to the victim.
Defenses to Assault and Battery Charges
- Unintentional or mistake
- Lack of knowledge
- No offense occurred
- Age (e.g. If victim is a young child and defendant was a young child as well at the time of the crime)
- Intoxication (NOTE: It cannot be voluntary intoxication, for example, by cause of being under the influence of alcohol or drugs by the defendant's personal choice.)
See Assault and Battery Defenses for more details.
Penalties and Sentences
In Texas, assault and battery laws impose penalties upon conviction ranging from a "Class C" misdemeanor (monetary fine of up to $500) to a second degree felony (two to twenty years in prison and a fine of no more than $10,000). The primary factors influencing which type of penalty is likely to be imposed are the following:
- Victim's relationship to the defendant;
- Defendant's past convictions, or lack thereof;
- Whether suffocation or strangulation was involved
See Assault and Battery Penalties and Sentencing for more details.
Aggravated assault, on the other hand, will be classified as either a first degree or second degree felony. It will generally be a second degree felony, except that it will be a first degree felony in the following circumstances:
- The victim is either someone living in the household of the defendant, related to the defendant by blood or affinity (including foster parents or foster children), or in a "dating relationship" with the defendant;
- The defendant is a public servant acting under his/her office as a public servant;
- The victim is a public servant and was acting under his/her duties at the time of the crime;
- The victim is a security officer on duty at the time of the crime;
- The defendant was in a motor vehicle at the time of the crime and recklessly discharges a firearm in the direction of a building, vehicle or habitation without knowledge of whether it was inhabited and causes serious bodily injury to a victim;
A conviction of second degree felony carries a penalty of two to twenty years in state prison and/or a fine of no more than $10,000. If the conviction is for first degree felony, the penalty imposed may be between 5 to 99 years in state prison and/or a fine of no more than $10,000.
Texas Assault and Battery Laws: Statute
Note: State laws are constantly changing - please contact a Texas criminal defense attorney or conduct your own legal research to verify the state law(s) you are researching.