What is assault and battery in Texas?
Assault and battery are both crimes and torts in Texas. This means two things. First, a person can go to jail for committing an assault and battery. Second, the victim of the assault and battery can file a claim in court for money damages.
Today, Section 22.01 of the penal code combines assault and battery into one law. As a result, courts call Section 22.01 simple assault. See the table below for a comparison of assault and battery. Further, Section 22.01 is important for another reason. Simple assault is a building block for more severe charges.
Finally, assaults and batteries differ on one key fact. Battery requires physical contact between a person and the victim. Assault does not. For example, a person commits common-law assault when he or she puts a victim in instant fear of physical contact. In other words, a person does not need to touch or hurt the victim to be guilty of common-law assault. In contrast, a person commits common-law battery only when he or she causes harmful or offensive contact with another person.
Texas Penal Code Section 22.01: Simple Assault
|Tex. Penal Code||Legal definition of simple assault||Common Law|
|Section 22.01(a)(1)||A person commits [assault] if the person--intentionally, knowingly, or recklessly causes bodily injury to another, including the person's spouse;||Common-law battery|
|Section 22.01(a)2)||A person commits [assault] if the person--intentionally or knowingly threatens another with imminent bodily injury, including the person's spouse; or||Common-law assault|
|Section 22.01(a)(3)||A person commits [assault] if the person--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.||Common-law battery|
Aggravated assault is simple assault plus two events. Section 22.02 lists the two factors. The first factor is causing serious bodily injury. The second factor is using or showing a deadly weapon. If a person commits simple assault with one of these factors, then it becomes aggravated assault. The table below outlines how these two events work.
|Tex. Pen. Code||Legal Definitions of Aggravated Assault|
|22.02(a)(1)||A person commits an offense if the person commits [simple assault] and the person causes serious bodily injury to another, including the person's spouse; or|
|22.02(a)(2)||A person commits an offense if the person commits [simple assault] and the person uses or exhibits a deadly weapon during the commission of the assault.|
Simple Assault and Family Violence
In Texas, family violence includes pushing, hitting, or slapping a family member. This is a simple assault. But simple assault becomes a third-degree felony if the person chokes a family member. In addition, these cases cause extra problems.
Family violence cases can lead to protective orders. These protective orders ban a person from going near the victim. It can also lead to “kick out” orders. “Kick out” orders remove a person from the home. Finally, these cases can ban a person from possessing a firearm. This can lead to gun charges if a person violates the orders. In short, simple assaults become more complicated if the victim is a family member.
Texas Assault and Battery Punishment Ranges
|Tex. Pen. Code||Charge||Type||Jail Time||Fine|
|22.01 (a)(1).||Assault-Bodily Injury.|
|Class A Misdemeanor||Up to 1 year in jail.||Up to a $ 4,000.00 fine.|
|22.01 (a)(2).||Assault-threatening imminent bodily injury.|
|Class C||N/A||Up to a $ 500.00 fine.|
|22.01 (a)(3).||Assault-offensive or provocative physical contact.|
|Class C||N/A||Up to a $ 500.00 fine.|
|22.01 (a)(1) & (b)(2)(B).||Assault-choking or strangling a family member, spouse, or partner.||Third Degree Felony||2-10 years in prison.||Up to a $ 10,000.00 fine.|
|22.02 (a)(1).||Aggravated Assault-serious bodily injury.||Second Degree Felony||2-20 years in prison.||Up to a $ 10,000.00 fine.|
|22.02 (a)(2).||Aggravated Assault-using or exhibiting a deadly weapon.||Second Degree Felony||2-20 years in prison.||Up to a $ 10,000.00 fine.|
Assault and Battery Criminal Defense
Simple Assault covers a wide range of conduct. This includes pushing, shoving, or hitting another person. These are misdemeanor crimes. However, they become felonies if the person uses a deadly weapon, chokes a spouse, or causes serious bodily injury.
Moreover, these crimes all have the same or similar elements. They all require criminal intent and an act. If the government can not show either intent or an act, then the person is not guilty of assault. Also, in many cases, you can raise a self-defense claim. In short, the defense strategy will depend on the facts of your case.