assault, n. 1. Criminal & tort law. The threat or use of force on another that causes that person to have a reasonable apprehension of imminent harmful or offensive contact; the act of putting another person in reasonable fear or apprehension of an immediate battery by means of an act amounting to an attempt or threat to commit a battery. 2. Criminal law. An attempt to commit battery, requiring the specific intent to cause physical injury. 3. Loosely, a battery. 4. Popularly, any attack.
Black’s Law Dictionary, 2nd Pocket Ed.
The dictionary definition of assault is useful to understanding the basic nature of this offense. “Assault” literally means placing someone in fear of harmful or offensive contact. When a person actually makes harmful or offensive contact this is technically called “battery.” In different jurisdictions, the offense might be known as “assault and battery.” In Texas, the assaultive crimes are defined in Chapter 22 of the Texas Penal Code. The general term assault can cover alleged conduct from bar fights, to domestic violence, to sexual assaults. The most commonly charged Texas assault offenses are listed below.
Penal Code 22.01 – Assault
Penal Code 22.011 – Sexual Assault
Penal Code 22.02 – Aggravated Assault
Penal Code 22.04 – Injury to a Child, Elderly Individual, or Disabled Individual
Penal Code 22.05 – Deadly Conduct
Penal Code 22.07 – Terroristic Threat
Penal Code 22.10 – Leaving a Child in a Vehicle
Penal Code 25.11 – Continuous Violence Against the Family (defined as multiple assaults under PC 22.01(a)(1) against a family member within a 12 month period)
Unlike the Black’s Law Dictionary definition of assault, the Texas Penal Code definitions contain many subparts and it can be confusing for those accused of these crimes to understand the charges against them. As with any criminal charges, the state has the burden to prove every element of an assault offense beyond a reasonable doubt.
Assault charges range from Class C misdemeanors to First Degree Felonies, depending on the alleged conduct, the injuries sustained by the alleged victim, and whether the use of a deadly weapon is alleged. In addition to the punishments for the offenses, convictions for assault carry substantial collateral consequences. For example, assault can be considered a crime of moral turpitude, which can make obtaining employment or state licenses almost impossible. Additionally, federal laws limit the rights of people convicted of domestic violence. An the Texas Code of Criminal Procedure defines many types of assault as “3G” offenses for which harsher sentences are imposed.
If you have been charged with any type of assault, it is important that you hire the best Criminal Defense Lawyer you can to defend you. Because of the violence – actual or threatened – inherent in any allegation of assault, prosecutors and judges take these cases very seriously. Allegations of assault are very case-specific and the evidence often consists of conflicting witness statements. If you have been charged with any type of assault, it is important that you do not talk to police or prosecutors. You need to discuss your situation with a criminal defense attorney who can help you defend yourself.