Felony and Misdemeanor Assault in Texas

The Legal Differences Between Felonies and Misdemeanors in Texas

Assault is a serious crime in the state of Texas, and an assault charge should never be taken lightly. That being said, it is important to know the different levels of assault charges in case you ever face one, as the penalties vary drastically. For the purpose of simplicity, we will only be focusing on non-sexual assault in this post.

The largest difference that can distinguish one assault from another is whether it is designated a felony or a misdemeanor. Misdemeanors often have lower penalties and are considered less serious. Misdemeanor-offenders often face short jail sentences, fines, and restrictions following their conviction (while domestic assault is a misdemeanor, those convicted are no longer allowed to own guns or ammunition in Texas for the rest of their lives).  By looking at the Texas Penal Code, the differences become quite clear.

 

Charge

Crimes

Penalties

1st Degree Felony

  • Aggravated assault against a public servant or in which serious bodily injury was caused
  • Intoxication assault against a peace officer or judge
  • Imprisonment for life, or not more than 99 years
  • Up to $10,000 in fines

2nd Degree Felony

  • Strangling or suffocating a police officer or a judge
  • Aggravated assault not against a public servant or in which serious bodily injury was caused
  • Imprisonment for between 2 and 20 years
  • Up to $10,000 in fines

3rd Degree Felony

  • Assault against an employee of a detention facility
  • Assault against a family member (with a previous conviction of crime against a family member)
  • Continuous family violence
  • Imprisonment for between 2 and 10 years
  • Up to $10,000 in fines

State Jail Felony

  • Injury to a child, elderly individual, or disabled individual
  • Imprisonment in state jail for between 180 and 730 days
  • Up to $10,000 in fines

Class A Misdemeanor

  • Assault resulting in physical bodily harm
  • Offensive physical contact with an elderly individual or a disabled individual
  • Jail for up to a year
  • Up to $4,000 in fines

Class B Misdemeanor

  • Assault against a sports participant by a non-sports participant
  • Assault by threatening or causing offensive contact
  • Jail for up to 180 days
  • Up to $2,000 in fines

 

Penalty Differences Between Felonies and Misdemeanors

The most significant difference between felony and misdemeanor penalties is the amount in fines that is possible. The maximum fine for the lowest level felony (state jail felony) is over double that of the highest level misdemeanor (Class A misdemeanor). The exact amount of the fines will change on a case by case basis and at the discretion of the courts, as will the length of the sentence. 

The length of the sentence is also dramatically changed if it’s a misdemeanor or felony. Where higher level felonies can result in life in prison with no hope of parole, misdemeanors have a maximum of one year jail time. This is the difference between having a chance at recovering your life and spending the rest of your life behind bars.

 

How a Criminal Defense Attorney Can Help

A criminal defense attorney can help a person charged with assault lower their charges to misdemeanor-level or remove the charges entirely. An attorney can also reduce the penalties to the lower end based on the charges. In these cases, having the right lawyer can be a literal lifesaver. 

If you or a loved one is facing assault charges, please contact the law offices of Case J. Darwin. Our team has years of experience handling criminal cases just like yours, and we are proud to stand by your side.

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