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Texas Assault and Battery Laws

Many states treat assault and battery as two separate crimes, whereas some treat them as the same. The reason for this is because the offenses are very closely linked: "assault" occurs when someone threatens another with imminent bodily injury, while "battery" refers to actual bodily contact (either offensive or injurious in nature). Assault and battery also are considered intentional torts, which means you can sue someone for these actions in a civil court to get compensated for your injuries.

In Texas, the elements for a case against a defendant for assault and battery are the same, although there are many different classifications for different degrees of the offense (charged as "assault" even if battery does occur). For example, threatening someone with bodily harm in Texas may just result in a fine, while causing bodily harm against someone (typically charged as "battery" in other states) can land you in jail for up to one year.

The following provides an overview of Texas assault and battery laws, charged collectively as just "assault."

Texas Assault and Battery Laws at a Glance

Statute Texas Penal Code § 22.01, et seq.
Statutory Definition of Assault

A person commits an offense if the person:

  1. Intentionally, knowingly, or recklessly causes bodily injury to another, including the person's spouse;
  2. Intentionally or knowingly threatens another with imminent bodily injury, including the person's spouse; or
  3. Intentionally or knowingly causes physical contact with another when the person knows or should reasonably believe that the other will regard the contact as offensive or provocative.
Classifications of the Offense

Class C misdemeanor if a person threatens another with bodily harm or causes physical contact in a provocative or offensive way, and no other aggravating factors are present.

Class B misdemeanor if a person commits assault against someone who is a sports participant during a performance or in retaliation for a performance.

Class A misdemeanor if a person causes bodily injury to another, and no other aggravating factors are present; or if a person causes physical contact in a provocative or offensive way against an elderly individual.

3rd degree felony if act committed against:

  • A person the actor knows is a public servant while the public servant is lawfully discharging an official duty, or in retaliation or on account of an exercise of official power or performance of an official duty as a public servant;
  • A family member, member of the household, or dating relationship if defendant has been previously convicted of a similar offense, or if the offense was committed by intentionally or recklessly choking the victim;
  • A person who contracts with the government for certain family services (such as Child Protective Services) acting in their official duties, or who is retaliated against for said duties;
  • A person the actor knows is a security officer performing within the scope of their duties; or
  • A person the actor knows is emergency services personnel while the person is providing emergency services.

2nd degree felony if:

  • Offense is committed against a family member, member of the household, or dating relationship;
  • Defendant has been previously convicted of a similar offense against an individual described above; and
  • Offense is committed by intentionally, knowingly, or recklessly impeding the normal breathing or circulation of the blood of the person by applying pressure to the person's throat or neck or by blocking the person's nose or mouth (choking).
  • (or for aggravated assault, see below)

1st degree felony if aggravated assault is committed against:

  • Someone with whom you have a domestic relationship; or
  • A public official, police officer, emergency worker, security guard, witness, or informant.
Aggravated Assault

An assault is considered "aggravated assault" if:

  • It results in serious injury, or
  • A weapon is used in the commssion of the assault.
Penalties and Sentences
  • Class C misdemeanor: Fine of up to $500.
  • Class B misdemeanor: Up to 180 days in jail, fine of up to $2,000.
  • Class A misdemeanor: Up to 1 year in jail, fine of up to $4,000.
  • Third degree felony: Up to 10 years in prison, fine of up to $10,000
  • Second degree felony: 2 to 20 years in prison, fine of up to $10,000.
  • First degree felony: 5 years to life in prison, plus fine.

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.

Related Resources

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The criminal charge of "assault" can mean so many different things in a Texas court, ranging from a credible threat of committing violence to another person to actually inflicting serious bodily injury. These cases are quite complex and benefit from the expertise of a criminal defense attorney. Learn more about your case by having a Texas criminal defense attorney evaluate your situation today at no charge.

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