Tag Archives: assault by threat

What Is Misdemeanor Assault in Texas?

Misdemeanor assault is one of the most commonly charged crimes in Texas. A whole range of behavior can fall into this broad category, from punching someone in a bar fight to threatening someone without actually touching them. In this article, the Fort Worth criminal defense attorneys of Lee & Wood explain the different types of misdemeanor assault and the possible penalties. 

Four Categories of Misdemeanor Assault

Section 22.01(a) of the Texas Penal Code outlines the conduct that could lead to misdemeanor assault charges.

1. Assault Bodily Injury

You can be accused of assault bodily injury (ABI) if you intentionally, knowingly or recklessly cause bodily injury to someone else. Texas defines bodily injury as physical pain, illness or physical impairment. The alleged victim does not have to experience severe pain; any amount of pain is enough. 

ABI is a Class A misdemeanor. If convicted you could face up to one year in jail and up to $4,000 in fines.

2. Assault Bodily Injury Against a Family Member

Assault bodily injury against a family member (ABI-FM) is the same as regular ABI, except the alleged victim is a member of your family or household. You can be charged with ABI-FM if the alleged victim is a:

  • Spouse or ex-spouse
  • Boyfriend/girlfriend or ex-boyfriend/ex-girlfriend
  • Parent
  • Sibling
  • Any other person related to you by blood, marriage, or adoption
  • Roommate 

ABI-FM is a Class A misdemeanor punishable by up to one year in jail and fines of up to $4,000. However, ABI-FM can rise to a felony if you have a prior domestic violence conviction or if the alleged assault involved choking a family member or the use of a weapon.

3. Assault by Contact

You could be charged with assault by contact if you allegedly created contact with someone else, intentionally or knowingly, that is reasonably offensive or provocative. There is no bodily injury requirement, meaning you can be charged with assault by contact for actions such as spitting on someone or poking them in the chest. The victim doesn’t need to be hurt. 

Assault by contact is a Class C misdemeanor punishable by fines of up to $500. There is no jail time.

4. Assault by Threat

Assault by threat is defined as intentionally or knowingly threatening someone with imminent bodily injury either verbally or nonverbally. The key word is “imminent.” You likely cannot be convicted of this crime for saying something like “I’m going to kill you one of these days.” But, you could possibly be convicted if you said “I’m going to kill you,” while walking menacingly toward the person.

Assault by threat is a Class C misdemeanor punishable by a fine of up to $500. No jail time is possible. However, if you threaten someone while holding a weapon, you could be facing a second degree felony charge, which is extremely serious and could lead to up to 20 years in prison.

Get a Free Consultation With a Texas Assault Defense Lawyer

The attorneys of Lee & Wood have decades of experience defending people against misdemeanor assault charges in Fort Worth, Weatherford, Granbury and all surrounding areas. We will analyze your case and do everything we can to protect your rights. Call 817-678-6771 or email us today. We offer free initial consultations.

Assault by Threat

Not content to just avoid a COVID vaccine, a north Texas man is facing federal criminal charges for sending a message on his cell phone to a medical doctor in another state with whom he disagreed on vaccinations. The doctor said the message was threatening. She called the police.

Now Scott Eli Harris is heading to Baltimore after being indicted by a federal grand jury for sending threats across state lines. In his message to the doctor, whom Harris had never met, he said,” My 12 gauge promises I won’t… I can’t wait for the shooting to start.” 

It’s a federal criminal charge because the alleged threats crossed state lines. Harris could face a maximum sentence of five years in federal prison.

Is a threat a crime in Texas?

What if Mr. Harris had sent a similar message to a doctor in the state of Texas. Would he be facing prison time?

He would not, but a threat of violence is a crime in Texas. The threat could be spoken, texted, emailed, left in a note, or even communicated by gesture. However, it’s communicated, it still counts as a threat.

If a person intentionally or knowingly threatens a person (or a person’s spouse) with imminent bodily injury they can be charged with assault by threat. In most cases, assault by threat is a Class C misdemeanor that carries a maximum penalty of a $500 fine.

If someone threatens to commit violence to a person or property with the intent to place a person in fear of imminent serious bodily injury, they can be charged with terroristic threat, a Class B misdemeanor. Criminal penalties can be a fine of up to $2,000 and/or up to 180 days in county jail.

Those penalties are nowhere near the prison time Mr. Harris could be facing. That’s because these are state charges, not federal charges.

A $500 fine may seem like a reasonable price to pay to get something off your chest, but remember, it’s not just a fine. It’s a criminal charge of assault on your record. And that will have long-term consequences every time you apply for a job or an apartment or need to undergo a criminal background check.

Every Criminal Charge Has a Defense

There are several words in the definition of the crime that holds the key to a defense … knowingly, intentionally, and imminent.

The prosecutor has to prove each of these elements:

  • That you intended a threat (not a joke, not an off-hand remark),
  • That you knew the person would perceive it as a genuine threat, and
  • That they would have a fear of imminent – soon – physical injury or pain

Talk to a Ft. Worth Criminal Defense Lawyer

If you take a plea for this crime and are later charged with another crime, you could face harsher penalties because you already have a criminal record. Fight the charges. Call the Ft. Worth criminal defense attorneys at Lee and Wood, LP: 817-678-6771 or contact us online.