Understanding the Difference Between Assault and Battery

Some jurisdictions draw a distinction between assault and battery. In those jurisdictions, assault is generally defined as the threat of bodily harm that reasonably causes fear in the victim. Battery, in contrast, is generally defined as unwanted physical contact that causes harm. To simplify, assault is when a person is threatened with harm or violence and battery is when that threat turns into action. Actual physical contact is not necessary for assault in these jurisdictions, so threats and intimidation can qualify.

Unlike other jurisdictions, Texas takes a unique approach to assault and battery. Instead of differentiating between the two, both assault and battery are charged as assault under Texas Penal Code Section 22.01. This means that even if you do not actually touch another person, you can still be charged with assault.

In Texas, the crime of assault requires a person to intentionally, knowingly, or recklessly:

  • Cause bodily injury to another
  • Threaten another person with imminent bodily harm
  • Engage in physical contact with another when the person knows or can reasonably believe that the victim will find the contact offensive or provocative

Texas further breaks down the crime of assault into different classes of misdemeanors and felonies. The severity of the charge can depend on several factors including, but not limited to, whether a weapon was used, the criminal history of the person charged, the relationship of the parties, and the occupation of the victim.

  • Class A misdemeanor: known as “simple assault” because aggravating factors aren’t present, this charge means that the assault did not lead to serious injury or death, no weapons were used, and the victim was not the spouse of the person charged, a civil servant, or an elderly individual. The punishment for simple assault is up to one year in jail and a maximum fine of $4,000.
  • Class B misdemeanor: this charge occurs when someone assaults a victim who is participating at a sporting event, or the assault was based on the outcome of a sporting event. This charge is punishable by up to 180 days in jail and a maximum fine of $2,000.
  • Class C misdemeanor: a person will be charged with this offense if they threaten to cause bodily harm or injury to another or they make physical contact with the victim in a way that is provocative or offensive, without any aggravating factors. This crime is punishable by a fine of up to $500.
  • Aggravated assault: if the victim was seriously injured and the perpetrator used a weapon, they will be charged with aggravated assault.
  • 1st degree felony: if the assault was against someone with whom you have a domestic relationship, or an informant, witness, police officer, public official, emergency worker, or security guard. This is punishable by a jail sentence ranging from 5 years to life and a fine.
  • 2nd degree felony: if the assault is committed against someone with whom you have a domestic relationship, you’ve been charged with assault before, and the offense involves the use of choking or a weapon. This is punishable by a jail sentence ranging from two to 20 years and a maximum fine of $2,000.
  • 3rd degree felony: a person will be charged with a 3rd degree felony if the victim was a public servant, government official, security officer, or emergency services personnel, which carries a jail sentence of up to 10 years and a maximum fine of $10,000.

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At Frankfurt Law Firm, PLLC, we understand that a criminal charge can have a serious impact on our client’s life. That’s why we provide experienced and passionate criminal defense to all of our clients. To receive your free phone consultation, please contact our office at (214) 775-5050, or visit us online at http://www.frankfurtlaw.net.