What Is The Difference Between Assault And Battery?
Assault and battery are two separate offenses that many times are confused with each other. In fact, each offense can carry with it its own definition and range of punishments. Alternatively, both can be charged collectively with each other and bring with it an array of criminal penalties.
The manner in which assault and battery are prosecuted in court largely depends on the state in which the offense is committed. Understanding the definition of assault and battery in Texas can help defendants determine if or when they need to hire experienced legal counsel to represent them in their cases.
Assault and Battery Definition
In Texas, assault and battery are actually two different crimes. It is true that they are linked closely to each other. However, the state defines assault as threatening another person with bodily harm and defines battery as actual bodily contact that results in injury.
Can You Sue For Assault and Battery?
Along with being criminal offenses in Texas, assault and battery are also intentional torts. This definition allows a victim to sue his or her attacker for assault and/or battery in civil court to gain compensation for his or her injuries.
As in most states, there are different levels of assault and battery in Texas. An offense can be charged as assault even if battery also occurs. In fact, in most criminal cases involving both assault and battery, the crime is simply charged as assault. The charge still carries with it hefty punishments ranging from civil fines to prison terms.
Texas Definition of Assault
Texas lawmakers use three separate definitions for assault:
- Knowingly, intentionally, or recklessly causing bodily injury to another person, including the defendant's spouse.
- Intentionally or knowingly threatening another person with imminent bodily harm. The other person, in this case, can also extend to being the defendant's spouse.
- Purposefully or knowingly causing physical contact with another person when the defendant knows that the other person would consider the contact to be offensive or provocative. Again, the other person in the case can be the charged individual's spouse.
Texas also allows for assault to be charged as an aggravated offense if it results in serious injury to the victim. It can also be charged as aggravated assault if the charged individual used a weapon to injure another person.
The type of charge that the defendant faces in court will depend on the circumstances of his or her case. Assault can be charged as a Class A, B, or C misdemeanor. It can also be charged as a first, second, or third-degree felony.
Penalty for Assault and Battery in Texas
The penalties that a judge metes out for someone convicted of assault and battery in Texas depends on the type of charge used in the case. A Class C misdemeanor conviction results in a fine of up to $500. However, a Class B misdemeanor can result in a jail term of up to 180 days and a fine of up to $2000.
- Someone convicted of Class A misdemeanor assault and battery faces up to a year in jail. He or she also could be ordered to pay up to $4000 in fines.
- Felony assault and battery convictions lead to more serious penalties under Texas law. A third-degree felony conviction can result in up to 10 years in jail and a fine of up to $10,000.
- A second-degree felony conviction can end in the person being sentenced to two to 20 years in prison and paying a fine of up to $10,000. Someone convicted of first-degree felony assault and battery faces five years to life in prison and a fine of $10,000.
Is Battery A Felony?
A battery is not always a felony. Whether or not a battery charge is considered a felony depends on the severity of the offense. Below are some examples of third-degree battery felony, second-degree battery felony, and first-degree felony battery, and their penalties:
- Third-Degree Felony
- Examples include assault against a public servant, security office, or emergency services person while they are performing official duties; battery against a family member, member of your household, or someone you have a relationship with and you have not been convicted of a similar crime already
- Felony Battery Sentence: Up to 10 years in prison and up to $10,000 fine
- Second-Degree Felony
- Examples include battery against a family member, member of your household, or someone you have a relationship with and you have already been convicted of a similar crime; intentionally stopping the blood circulation or breathing of another person through choking or strangulation
- Penalties: 2 to 20 years in prison and up to $10,000 fine
- First-Degree Felony
- Examples include aggravated assault against a public official, police officer, emergency person, security guard, or witness; aggravated assault against a family member or person you are dating
- Penalties: 5 years to life in prison and a fine
Defense for Assault & Battery Charges in Texas
Given the array of penalties that you can face if you are convicted of assault and battery, you need an experienced Texas criminal defense attorney to represent you in court. When you find yourself charged with assault in Texas, contact the Smith & Vinson Law Firm to speak with a knowledgeable defense attorney.