What Is The Difference Between Simple Assault and Aggravated Assault In Texas?

At Cofer Law, our criminal defense attorneys are frequently asked about the difference between assault and aggravated assault. Simple assault is typically a misdemeanor charge, but can be bumped up to a third-degree felony in special circumstances such as if the victim is a family member, a public servant or emergency services worker. You can be charged with assault for punching, kicking or choking someone during a fight. However, you can also be charged with assault without even touching the victim. For example, if you tell someone you are going to beat him or her up, and that person has a reasonable fear that you are capable and will do it, you can be charged with assault.

The more serious charge, aggravated assault, encompasses the same elements of a simple assault charge, but with one of two additional actions: The use or brandishing of a deadly weapon during the assault or by causing serious bodily injury to the victim. While generally being considered a second-degree felony, aggravated assault can be elevated to a first-degree felony in the following circumstances (the first three being classified as domestic violence):

  • The victim is living in the defendant’s household.
  • The victim is related to the defendant by blood or affinity, this includes foster parents or foster children.
  • The victim is in a dating relationship with the defendant.
  • The defendant or victim is a public servant acting under his/her office.
  • The victim is a security officer on duty at the time of the crime.
  • The defendant is in a motor vehicle at the time of the crime while recklessly discharging a firearm in the direction of a building, vehicle or habitation without the knowledge of whether it was inhabited and causes serious bodily injury to a victim.

The penalties for an aggravated assault charge are serious and life changing. A conviction of a second-degree felony may carry a penalty of two to twenty years in state prison and/or a fine of no more than $10,000. If the conviction is a first-degree felony, the jail penalty is increased to 5 years to life in state prison.

The consequences of not hiring the right defense lawyer could change your life forever. Even with no criminal history, a first-time assault charge conviction can result in a lengthy prison term. Contact our office for a criminal case evaluation on your assault charge. We can help you understand your options and we will let you know how we can help you and devise an airtight defense strategy. Don’t brave this fight alone; give us a call at 817.810.9395.