June 3, 2019
You’ve most likely heard the term “aggravated assault” before, but “simple assault” doesn’t come up quite as often in everyday chit-chat. What are the differences? What are the punishments? And more importantly, what the heck can you do about it?
Simple Assault vs Aggravated Assault
In the eyes of the law, an assault charge comes in two flavors. Simple assault is the “lesser” charge of the two: less punishment for a less serious charge. With a simple assault charge, the courts have to prove that you “intentionally, knowingly or recklessly,” 1) caused physical pain or impairment to another person, 2) threatened a person with bodily injury, or 3) made physical contact with another human that you, as the offender, know that person would not like. The injuries this charge encompasses are typically cuts, bruises and the like.
Anything more serious will constitute a “serious bodily injury” and will bump you up to an aggravated assault charge. The word “serious” added to bodily injury elevates the injury to life-threatening or one that causes permanent damage to the victim. An aggravated assault charge will be the case if it is proven that you caused serious bodily injury to another, if you used (or even just brandished) a weapon, or if you knew your words or actions would be found offensive by the victim.
What happens if I am convicted?
There are only several very specific situations where a simple assault charge will result in a felony upon conviction (unlike the run-of-the-mill simple assault charge… those land you a misdemeanor). Charges worthy of a simple assault felony include assaults against certain public servants, employee contract issues and unwanted medical acts, such as pressuring someone into an abortion.
An aggravated assault charge will always get you a felony, at the very minimum. These types of felonies could result in up to 99 years in jail. “A lifetime in jail?” you say, “I only held the gun up to scare her… I wasn’t going to actually shoot!” Yes, jail could be your new permanent address if you are convicted of aggravated assault. If you have a history or prior conviction along these same lines, those punishments can increase even more.
But I didn’t hit anyone! How can I be charged with assault?
You can be charged with assault even if you never laid a hand on the person who is claiming injury. What? We know in life that emotional wounds can hurt just as badly as physical sores, and Texas law recognizes that as well.
As you can see, simple assault and aggravated assault are serious charges. There are many nuances to the requirements for each charge and a particular way we must navigate each offense to ensure the biggest possible success: no conviction, no jail time, nothing going onto your permanent record.
If you have been charged with simple or aggravated assault, or have a question, don’t hesitate to call our office at 210-222-2297 for a free consultation. We are here to help 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.