Simple Assault: Not So Simple Consequences

Simple Assault Laws in Texas

When someone hears the phrase “simple assault“, they may imagine a scenario involving a fistfight or a sucker punch. In reality, Texas law states that a case of simple assault can involve a wide variety of different actions. Despite the name of this criminal offense, most simple assault cases are not simple at all. Some cases can be complex, involving multiple people and actions.

In fact, it’s not necessary to throw a punch at all to be arrested, charged and convicted of simple assault. Many people may be surprised to learn what simple assault in Texas involves but having some knowledge about this offense can be helpful when someone finds themselves facing assault charges.

What Is Simple Assault?

Despite what some people may believe, assault offenses in Texas do not only apply to physical alterations. Texas law defines assault as:

  • Intentionally, knowingly or recklessly causing bodily injury to another person
  • Intentionally, knowingly or recklessly threatening another person with bodily injury
  • Intentionally, knowingly or recklessly causing physical contact with another person in a way that is provocative or offensive

This covers much more ground than a throwing a punch or getting into a fight. A simple assault charge can be filed for a shove, a shouted threat or jabbing someone in the chest with a finger.

For example, if Jim is in a disagreement with his neighbor and shoves him roughly, causing the neighbor to fall and bruise his arm, Jim can be arrested and charged with simple assault. The same result can occur if Jim walks to his neighbors house and shouts “I’ll break your neck!”, causing his neighbor to legitimately fear for his safety. Also, if Jim shouts at his neighbor while shoving him or prodding him in the chest, Jim may face simple assault charges.

The actions in a simple assault incident must be intentional, knowing or reckless. For example, if Jim accidentally bumps into his neighbor and knocks him down, the action was not intentional or knowing. However, if Jim speeds down his street to intimidate his neighbor and then accidentally bumps into him with a vehicle, he may be charged with assault due to his recklessness.

Types of Assault

It is possible for simple assault charges to be upgraded in certain instances. For example, striking a person and causing them to break a bone or be hospitalized may be upgraded to aggravated assault. Using a deadly weapon during an assault can also lead to aggravated assault charges.

Legal Penalties

In Texas, a conviction for simple assault is a serious matter. If there are no aggravating factors, a conviction for a simple assault can lead to conviction on Class C misdemeanor charges. This can be punished by:

  • A fine of up to $500

While this may not sound serious, there can be other consequences. After a simple assault conviction, a person may have to face:

  • A civil lawsuit from the victim
  • Anger management courses
  • Community service

Also, a person with previous assault conviction can have a new simple assault charge automatically upgraded to felony aggravated assault charges.

Legal Defenses

A defense attorney may be able to help a defendant charged with simple assault fight the charges in court. For example, a good defense strategy may focus on the intention behind the incident. The lawyer could use video footage or witness statements to argue that the defendant did not intentionally, knowingly or recklessly assault the victim. The lawyer might claim that the incident was an accident and was the result of a misunderstanding. This may lead to dropped charges or a sentence of community service rather than a fine.

Are you facing criminal charges of simple assault? Getting the aid of an experienced attorney can help mitigate damage to your career and livelihood. Contact attorney Matthew D. Sharp today at 713-868-6100.