In the state of Texas, if you are arrested and charged with assault, you could end up in court and will face extremely harsh penalties if convicted. You need to understand the legal nature of assault to avoid this, as well as common misconceptions and myths about assault charges in Texas.

How Does Texas Define an Assault Charge?

Many offenses may be categorized as assault in Texas, with multiple degrees (from Class A, B, or C misdemeanors to First, Second, or Third Degree felonies); how an assaultive incident is categorized depends on the specific circumstances of the case. An offender can be charged with either simple assault or aggravated assault. Simple assault is charged when a person intentionally, knowingly, or recklessly causes or threatens to cause bodily injury to another person. (An assault in Texas does not always involve physical contact.) Aggravated assault is charged when a person intentionally, knowingly, or recklessly causes serious bodily injury to another person or uses or brandishes a deadly weapon during an assault. The full legal definition of assault can be found in Chapter 22 of the Texas Penal Code. A competent and experienced criminal defense attorney can explain the details of each to help you understand how your offense is being classified and why.

RELATED: Understanding Sexual Assault Charges in Texas

3 Myths About Assault Charges in Texas

There are several misconceptions related to assault charges in the state of Texas. It is essential to understand myths about assault charges so you are better prepared in the case that you are charged with assault.

  1. One such myth is that you cannot be charged if there is no visible bodily injury. Of course, that is not always the case because the law in Texas makes clear that even just a threat of imminent bodily injury could be enough to warrant an assault charge.
  2.  Another myth is that you cannot be charged for assaults that happened in the past if you and the other party have reconciled or separated, but Texas law states otherwise. Assault charges fall under Chapter 12 of the Texas Code of Criminal Procedure which states that charges may be brought within two years from the date of the commission of the offense for misdemeanors and three years for felonies (unless the specific felony is listed outright as falling within a different statute of limitations).
  3. A third myth about assault charges in Texas is that a victim can choose not to press charges or can drop the charges against you. This is untrue as the prosecution decides whether or not charges will be brought; they have the final say. Then the judge in the case determines whether there is probable cause and/or sufficient evidence to process. You can still face assault charges even if the victim chooses not to cooperate with the prosecution.

Pressing Charges for Assault in Texas

An alleged victim of assault can press charges against you by filing a report with local Texas law enforcement; law enforcement will open an investigation after taking the report. (The report includes any and all relevant information about the incident and people involved, including the names of any witnesses.) Next, the report is sent to the prosecutor’s office, to assess whether there is enough information and evidence in the case for you to be arrested. If the prosecutor deems that there is probable cause, a warrant will be issued for your arrest.

Defending Against Assault Charges

If you have been falsely accused of assault, know that there are several potential defenses against assault charges in Texas. Your attorney can help you avoid assault charges if he can present evidence that you acted in self-defense, defense of others, defense of property, or if there was prior consent on the part of the alleged victim. An experienced criminal defense attorney will consider all the details of your specific case before determining the best course of action. 

If you are facing assault charges in Austin, Texas or the surrounding area, Brian Erskine of Erskine Law is the knowledgeable and experienced criminal defense attorney to call. Mr. Erskine will help you understand the charges against you and will build a defense to help you reach the best outcome possible in your case. Contact the reputable counsel at Erskine Law today for a free consultation.