What’s the Difference Between Assault and Battery in Austin Texas?

When you're facing legal challenges, especially those involving allegations of physical harm, it's essential to grasp the specific charges against you. In Texas, "assault" and "battery" are terms that often come up in legal discussions, yet they represent different types of conduct under the law.

What is Assault in Texas?

In Texas, the term "assault" encompasses several actions under Texas Penal Code Section 22.01. You commit an assault if you:

  • Intentionally, recklessly, or knowingly cause bodily injury to another person. This means if you hit someone and it results in pain or injury, you have committed assault.
  • Intentionally or knowingly threaten another person with imminent bodily injury. This involves situations where you might not physically touch someone, but you make a credible threat that puts them in fear of imminent harm.
  • Intentionally or knowingly cause physical contact with another when you know or should reasonably believe that the other will regard the contact as offensive or provocative. This could include unwanted touching or brushing against someone in a manner they find inappropriate.

The seriousness of an assault charge can vary greatly based on the circumstances and who the victim is. For example, if the assault is against a public servant, like a police officer, or against a family member under certain conditions, it can be charged more severely than a simple assault against a stranger.

Battery: Not a Separate Charge in Texas

Unlike some other states, Texas does not have a separate charge for "battery." Instead, what might be considered battery in other jurisdictions is generally covered under assault in Texas. So, if you physically strike someone and cause injury, you would be charged with assault, not battery.

Severity of Assault Charges

Assault charges can range from a Class C misdemeanor (like threatening someone without causing physical harm) up to a first-degree felony (such as assaulting a public servant or causing serious bodily injury). The penalties can vary from a $500 fine for a Class C misdemeanor to up to life in prison and a $10,000 fine for a first-degree felony.

Common Questions About Assault

  • What if I didn't intend to hurt anyone? Texas law considers your intent, knowledge, and recklessness. Even if you did not intend to cause harm, acting recklessly or knowingly that your actions could lead to harm can still result in an assault charge.
  • Can words alone constitute assault? Generally, mere words are not enough to constitute an assault unless they are accompanied by actions or threats that put someone in fear of imminent harm.
  • What defenses can I use against an assault charge? Common defenses include self-defense, consent, defense of others, and lack of intent. Each defense depends heavily on the specifics of the incident.

Why Understanding These Differences Matters

Understanding what constitutes assault in Texas is crucial. Each element of the offense can significantly impact the legal strategy used in your defense. Knowing the specifics can help clarify what legal defenses are available to you and how best to approach your case with your attorney.

Contact Our Austin Assault Lawyers

If you're accused of assault in Austin, Texas, it's important to talk with an assault lawyer, as they can provide a strong defense based on the specifics of your case. At Cofer & Connelly, PLLC, we are experienced in defending clients against various criminal charges, including assault. For a consultation with a criminal defense attorney who can help you understand your legal rights and options, contact Cofer & Connelly, PLLC by calling (512) 991-0576 or contacting us online. We're here to support you and advocate for the best possible outcome in your case.