Posted on 7/6/20

Battery and assault are two different crimes in most states across the country. Traditionally, battery happens when a person intentionally or knowingly causes offensive or harmful contact to another person. Battery could include slapping someone across the face during an argument or pushing someone, even if the contact does not cause long-term harm. In many states, assault is a separate crime of causing a victim to fear imminent physical harm. Assault can occur even when there is no actual physical contact. This is not the case in Texas, however.

The Crime of Battery Does Not Exist Under Texas Law

Unlike in most other states, in Texas, there is no such thing as the crime of battery. Instead, Texas law combines these two offenses into a single crime called assault. Under Texas law, assault happens when a person:

  1. Knowingly, intentionally, or recklessly causes bodily injury to another person, including a person’s spouse, or 

  2. Intentionally or knowingly threatens another person with imminent bodily injury, including to the person’s spouse, or

  3. Intentionally or knowingly causes physical contact with another person when the person knows or should reasonably believe that the other person will regard that contact as offensive

The Crime of Battery is Included in the Assault Statute

The third definition of assault mentioned above describes the crime of battery. Keep in mind, however, that if you are charged with causing offensive physical contact with someone, your actual charge will be assault in Texas. As you can see, the crime of assault in Texas includes common law assault and common law battery. 

The crime of assault ranges from a Class C misdemeanor, which carries only a fine, up to a first-degree felony, punishable by up to life in prison. When a defendant commits a battery by slapping, pushing, or grabbing at someone else, he or she will likely face Class C misdemeanor charges. The more aggressive or dangerous the assault, the greater the penalties. 

Aggravated Assault Charges in Texas

Texas law distinguishes between assault and aggravated assault. Aggravated assault happens when someone commits a regular assault but also causes serious bodily injury, uses, or exhibits a deadly weapon. Typically, aggravated assault is a 2nd Degree felony. However, assault is a first-degree felony if:

  • The defendant commits the assault on a public servant

  • The defendant commits the assault against a witness or an informant

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