Most people are aware that striking another person can lead to an assault charge. But many people do not realize that in Texas one can be charged with assault even if there was minimal physical contact, or even none at all.
There are two general categories of assault in the Texas Penal Code: simple assault and aggravated assault. A person can be charged with simple assault if he or she commits an intentional, knowing or reckless act that causes bodily harm to another person; threatens another person with imminent bodily harm; or touches another person in a manner they know, or should know, would be considered offensive by the other person. Depending on the circumstances, simple assault charges can range from a Class C misdemeanor to a second degree felony.
An assault charge can be upgraded to aggravated assault if the allegations involve certain factors, such as using or displaying a weapon, or causing serious bodily injury. Aggravated assault will usually be charged as a second degree felony, but it can be elevated to a first degree felony under some circumstances, such as when the victim is a member of the defendant's household and the defendant has a previous conviction for domestic assault; where either the victim or the defendant is a public servant acting on their duty; or the victim is a security officer.
Having a violent crime conviction on one's record can make it very difficult to find a job or even a place to live. For this reason, anyone charged with simple or aggravated assault should give serious thought to how they are going to fight the charges. In some cases what initially appeared to be an assault may turn out to be simple bad behavior that caused an unintentional injury. An experienced criminal defense attorney can help those accused of crimes to evaluate their options and prepare a defense.