Dallas Fort Worth Assault and Battery Lawyers
Many people think that assault and battery mean the same thing, but there is a distinction. Assault refers to the threat or intent to inflict physical harm on a person whereas battery refers to the actual physical act of inflicting harm. However, over time, both have come to mean the same thing and most states, when referring to assault and battery, define it as some form of physical harm or offensive contact. Assault and battery is punishable based on the following factors:
- how much bodily harm was inflicted
- the use of a weapon to inflict injury or with the intent to inflict injury
- the victim was vulnerable and had no means to defend themselves
- the victim was an officer of the law
- the offense committed or intended was a hate crime
When injuries sustained from an assault and battery are perceived to be less, it is considered a simple assault and battery case, whereas injuries of a serious and severe nature, including those sustained from a deadly weapon, are considered aggravated assault. Assaults can be in the form of road rage, fights in restaurants, bars or clubs, domestic violence, disorderly conduct, and more. Sometimes, even people defending themselves are charged with assault.
Because laws of assault and battery developed out of common law, a person charged with assault and battery may face both criminal and civil charges. In addition to being fined, convicted or jailed, a person may have to pay compensatory damages to the victim as well.
Assault by contact charges are lesser and different than assault bodily injury or aggravated assault charges. Assault by contact means that someone was physically contacted offensive or provocative way.
Texas Law: Assault by Contact
Texas has a statute that makes it illegal to assault someone with a contact, even when it does not cause any physical harm. Texas Penal Code, Section 22.01(a)(3), a person has committed the offense of assault if the person:
“Intentionally or knowingly causes physical contact with another when the person knows or should reasonably believe that the other will regard the contact as offensive or provocative.”
The offense is a Class C misdemeanor punishable by up to a $500 fine. Penalties are enhanced and the class of offense elevated if the person assaulted is an elderly person aged 65 or over or if the offense involves allegations of domestic violence.
This type of criminal charge is serious, and the consequences of a conviction (especially if it’s classified as elder abuse or domestic violence).
Intent is required to Prove Assault by Contact Charge in Texas
The very language of the statue requires the prosecutor to prove, beyond a reasonable doubt, that the act was intentional and knowingly made in order to offend or provoke the victim. An accidental push or nudge may be annoying to the person contacted, but without proof of intent to offend or provoke, there is no criminal conduct.
If you are in an argument with someone, and gently push them their chest with your hand, you may be charged with assault by contact. You intentionally had physical contact with someone and should reasonably believe that that person will regard your pushing them as offensive. You should also reasonably believe that if you knowingly and intentionally push a person that it will provoke or offend the person you are poking.
Why You Should Fight the Charges
Many may believe that because this is only a “ticket” or is “only” a Class C misdemeanor, and the fine is “only” $500, they should just pay the fine and be done with it. This is wrong. There are long-term consequences that come with having an assault conviction, even a Class C misdemeanor, on your record. It may make it difficult to get a job. It may even effect your ability to be promoted in your current job. Employers do not look kindly on employees who are prone to violence, which a conviction for any kind of assault implies. Additionally, some landlords will refuse to rent to someone with an assault conviction, even a misdemeanor assault conviction, since it implies violence. Having a conviction for any violent crime can have server limitation on your private life, limit your professional and employment opportunities, and mar your reputation.Defenses for Assault by Contact
One defense is that it did not happen. You may have had no intent to offend or provoke the alleged victim and no person would have reasonably interpreted your act as on that would offend or provoke. You may also argue that you were acting to defend yourself or your property.
Assault cases can be complicated. Sometimes there are no witnesses to corroborate and in other cases, people defending themselves may also be charged with assault. Depending on the situation, charges can often be reduced or dropped. If you or someone you know is faced with an assault charge, it is important to contact a lawyer who understands the circumstances behind the assault. At Bailey & Galyen, our experienced lawyers review each case thoroughly. We give our clients the attention they deserve, so that they can get the best possible resolution for their case.