Texas Penal Code: Assault
There are three ways a person can commit an assault, each with varying levels of severity. The first way a person can commit an assault, under Subsection 22.01(a)(1), is if the person “intentionally, knowingly, or recklessly causes bodily injury to another, including the person’s spouse.”
An offense under this section is considered a Class A misdemeanor, except if it is committed against a public servant performing an official duty or in retaliation of an official duty the victim performed as a public servant. In these cases, the offense is considered a felony of the third degree.
Similarly, as outlined in Subsection (b)(2), when the offense involves a household or personal relationship, as described by Sections 71.0021(b), 71.003, or 71.005, Family Code, between the actor and the victim, either one of two additional factors make it a felony of the third degree.
The first of these factors is if the defendant has previously been convicted of assault, kidnapping, aggravated kidnapping, indecency with a child, or continuous violence against the family with a victim that they also shared household relations with. The second factor is if the offense, on top of involving a household relationship, is committed by intentionally, knowingly, or recklessly choking the victim in any way.
In addition, the remaining exceptions that qualify an offense under Subsection 22.01(a)(1) as a third degree felony are assaulting any of the following types of individuals: a person who contracts with the government to perform a service in a facility and is assaulted in retaliation of or while performing a service within the scope of that contract, an on-duty security officer, or an emergency services personnel providing emergency services.
Lastly, in spite of Subsection (b)(2), an offense under Subsection (a)(1) is a felony of the second degree if it fits all of the following: there are intimate or household relations between the actor and the person whom the crime is committed against (described by Section 71.0021(b), 71.003 or 71.005, Family Code), the defendant has been previously convicted of a related offense against a person whose relationship to the defendant is also of this nature, and the offense is committed by impeding the normal breathing or blood circulation of the victim.
The second way a person can commit an assault, under Subsection 22.01(a)(2), is if the person “intentionally or knowingly threatens another with imminent bodily injury including the person’s spouse.”
Finally, the third way of committing an assault is defined under Subsection 22.01(a)(3) and says a person commits an offense 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.”
Most of these offenses under Subsection (a)(2) or (3) are Class C misdemeanors, although there are again a few exceptions. An exception for an offense under Subsection (a)(3) being a Class C misdemeanor is in the case that it is committed against an elderly or disabled individual, making it a Class A misdemeanor.
Additionally, an offense under either Subsection (a)(2) or (3) becomes a Class B misdemeanor when it involves a person who is not a sports participant acting against a person the actor knows is a sports participant, who is also either performing duties in his capacity as a sports participant or being retaliated against for actions within that capacity.
In sum, there are a number of exceptions to the typical level of the offense when the assault is committed against the previously mentioned types of victims. The motivation for the inclusion of these exceptions was to protect certain commonly targeted and also more vulnerable groups of individuals. Therefore, in terms of punishment for defendants found guilty of committing an assault, depending on who was assaulted and in what manner, punishment can range from relatively minor to severe.
This article is copyright