Assault and battery are two frequently confused terms. To most laypeople, they refer to the same thing—being physically threatened or harmed. However, there’s an important legal distinction. If you’ve been charged with assault in Lubbock, TX, an experienced attorney can help you fight the charges. Read on to learn the difference between the two offenses and how the Texas legal system treats them.
Assault and battery defined
Assault in Texas is defined as “intentionally, knowingly or recklessly” causing bodily injury, fear of imminent physical harm or “physical contact with another when the person knows or should reasonably believe that the other will regard the contact as offensive or provocative” to another, including the person’s spouse.
Under the common law, and in other states, assault only covers the threat of physical harm or offensive physical contact. Battery, on the other hand, involves actually making physical contact. In Texas, these two crimes are covered under the same penal code section, entitled “Assaultive Offenses.”
Assault can be either a misdemeanor or a felony, depending on the severity. As with most crimes, certain circumstances can “enhance” the crimes—that is, make them eligible for harsher penalties.
Enhanced or aggravated charges
These factors affect the punishment involved:
- Aggravated assault: Aggravated assault happens when the assault results in a serious bodily injury, or a deadly weapon was used in the commission of a crime.
- Choking: If the assault involves choking a person, it is elevated to a second-degree felony.
- Domestic violence: If you’re charged with assault against a “family member, member of the household, or [a person in a] dating relationship if [the] defendant has been previously convicted of a similar offense, or if the offense was committed by intentionally or recklessly choking the victim,” this makes the assault a third-degree felony.
- Public servant, emergency services or security personnel: If you assault a person who is acting in the scope of their public servant, security, law enforcement or other government-related duties (such as Child Protective Services), your assault charges may be raised to a third- or first-degree felony.
- Sports participant: If you commit an assault against an athlete during a sporting performance or in retaliation for their performance, you’ll be charged with a Class B misdemeanor. (It’s best to keep your sports-related yelling and throwing things in the company of the TV only.)
- The elderly: If a person “causes physical contact in a provocative or offensive way against an elderly individual,” the charges will be raised to a Class A misdemeanor.
In Texas, there has to be some sort of injury before charges can be brought. Texas’ definition of “injury” is very broad (even a slap across the face qualifies), but one possible defense is to show no injury actually occurred.
Self defense is another theory that may apply, depending on the specific circumstances. Ultimately, it’s best to talk to an attorney to form your defense.
If you need an attorney to defend you against assault and battery charges in Lubbock, TX, call The Law Office of Rob Biggers today.
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Categorised in: Criminal Law