October 25, 2018
If you or a loved one is facing an assault charge, you might be surprised at the level of the charge or the severity of the potential consequences. This is especially true if the associated incident involved others who were also arrested but not charged, or whose charges were not as serious.
How is that possible? One important determining factor with these types of charges is “bodily injury.” Whether or not “bodily injury” occurred and how severe those injuries were can greatly impact how someone is charged.
To better understand your charges, you need to talk to a knowledgeable Texas criminal lawyer. Before you do, though, prepare yourself by learning the answer to these questions first:
- What exactly is an assault charge?
- What is the legal definition of “bodily injury”?
- How can the inclusion of charges involving “bodily injury” affect my situation?
This article provides guidance in answering those three main questions so you can be more confident when you’re ready to seek the right representation for your situation.
How Does the State of Texas Define “Assault”?
Generally, one person intentionally or recklessly threatening and/or causing bodily injury to another can be considered assault. An incident can also be considered assault if one should be able to reasonably recognize the person they are coming into contact with regards the act as offensive or provocative. Even threatening behavior that does not involve any physical contact at all is enough to warrant assault charges in some situations.
At the time charges are filed, the offense is classified as either a misdemeanor or a felony. Texas recognizes three misdemeanor-level assault charges: Class A, Class B, and Class C. A felony will be labeled as an assault of the 1st, 2nd or 3rd degree.
For more information about which class your specific incident may fall into, here is the specific Texas Penal Code statute for assault.
How Does the State of Texas Define “Bodily Injury”?
When considering a criminal case, one way to think about bodily injury is as a sort of completion of an assault – the intentionally offensive or harmful contact of another person without their consent.
The legal definition of “bodily injury” as outlined in the Introductory Provisions of the Texas Penal Code is “physical pain, illness, or any impairment of physical condition.” Serious bodily injury involves permanent disfigurement, loss or impairment of a bodily function, limb, or organ, and/or has substantial risk of death.
How Does Bodily Injury Effect My Situation?
The simple answer is that penalties for assault increase both financially and in length of jail sentence when “bodily injury” is involved. From there, outcomes vary greatly depending on the specifics of your case.
For instance, if the defendant is a minor or it is their first offense, they would likely be eligible for some lesser penalty (often a fine as little as $50 or probation) if convicted.
In other situations, the penalty for misdemeanor assault charges without bodily injury can range from below $500 to up to $2,000 in fines, and it could include serving up to six months in jail. However, when bodily injury is proven in a given case, both fines and correctional time can double.
Charges of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon mean a completely different level of sentencing. A conviction involving use of a weapon that resulted in bodily injury could carry a sentence of as severe as life in prison, plus fines reaching well over $10,000.
Here you can find a general breakdown of charges and consequences in Texas.
After you review all the resources provided here, head back to the top of the article. Can you answer those questions about your personal situation a bit more confidently now? Good. You’re moving in the right direction.
About the Author:
Jeff Hampton has been practicing law in Texas in 2005, first in the Tarrant County District Attorney’s Office as a prosecutor, and now as a private attorney with the Hampton Eppes Law Group, protecting the rights of Texans who have suffered injury due to negligence or are facing criminal charges. His success in helping people with their legal troubles has been recognized by clients and peers alike, with a Top Attorney designation and 10/10 Superb Rating on Avvo, and a place on the National Trial Lawyers list of the Top 100 Trial Lawyers.