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What is the Difference Between Assault and Aggravated Assault?

In Houston, a person can face assault charges for many different types of alleged criminal behavior, including offenses that would constitute “battery” in other states. To be clear, both assault and battery are part of the assaultive offenses specified in the Texas Penal Code. Depending upon the circumstances of your case, as well as your prior criminal record, you could be facing charges for assault or aggravated assault. While the two types of charges might sound similar, these charges actually have significant distinctions. Our Houston assault defense lawyers want to tell you more about the differences between simple assault and aggravated assault, and we want to make sure you understand the types of circumstances in which you can face simple assault or aggravated assault charges.

What is Assault?

Under the Texas Penal Code, assault involves intentionally, knowingly, or recklessly causing bodily injury to another person, or intentionally or knowingly threatening another person with imminent bodily injury. A person can also face assault charges for engaging in this type of conduct against their own spouse. In other words, if a person recklessly causes bodily injury to his or her spouse, a Texas prosecutor may be able to bring assault charges. Likewise, if a person knowingly threatens his or her spouse with imminent bodily injury, that person may face assault charges.

In general, assault is charged as a Class A misdemeanor as long as there are not any factors that would result in the charges being increased, which we will explain momentarily. Under Texas law, conviction for a Class A misdemeanor can result in a sentence that includes up to one year in jail and a fine of up to $4,000. A Class A misdemeanor is the most serious type of misdemeanor class in Texas, and it will also result in a convicted person having a criminal record that may need to be disclosed in various circumstances.

There are a number of factors that can result in assault being charged as a felony of the third degree. Some examples include certain circumstances in which the person targeted is:

Public servant or government employee;
Security officer;
Emergency services personnel;
Process server;
Pregnant; or
Family member.

What is Aggravated Assault?

How does aggravated assault differ from assault? Aggravated assault can be charged when a person causes serious bodily injury to another person, or uses or exhibits a deadly weapon during the assault. Aggravated assault is charged as a felony in the second degree, which can result in a sentence of up anywhere from 2 to 20 years of imprisonment, and a fine of up to $10,000. A person can face felony charges in the first degree for aggravated assault if the alleged victim falls into one of the categories listed above that results in assault charges shifting from misdemeanor to felony charges.

Contact Our Houston Criminal Defense Lawyers

If you are facing any type of assault charges in Houston, you should seek advice from a Houston assault defense attorney as soon as possible. Contact The Law Offices of Tad Nelson & Associates to learn more about developing a defense strategy for your case.