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
- Any other person related to you by blood, marriage, or adoption
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.