How Texas Defines Assault
The state has a “mostly” straightforward definition of assault: when one “intentionally, knowingly, or recklessly causes bodily injury to another.” As the old mantra goes “your right to free speech ends with your fist at my chin”, in general assault requires physical content with another and when that contact is reasonably considered to be offensive or provocative. This obviously leaves the door open to the person claiming they were touched and, perhaps under the influence of some alcoholic beverage, overreacts.
Degrees of Assault
Obviously, the phrase “physical contact with another” can describe a variety of different actions ranging from a Will Smith slap to a full fist punch that may cause severe physical and mental health damage to the other. Texas law accounts for the wide range of these aggressions and who someone might be hitting.
If you are convicted of committing assault against another who is a police officer or any type of emergency services personnel (such as a firefighter or EMT), then you are in for even more severe penalties.
Types of Assault
In terms of the “types of assault”, Texas has four defined types of assault which include assault (common assault), aggravated assault, sexual assault, and indecent assault. The purpose of defining three additional types of assault, outside of just a common assault, is to allow for more suitable penalties for the associated infraction.
Aggravated Assault is more severe than just the general, common assault. The assault is escalated to aggravated assault if the injury caused to the other is a serious, bodily injury OR if during the assault the violator uses or shows a deadly weapon while they are in the midst of the assault.
The penalty for aggravated assault begins as a second-degree felony and escalates from there if one committed an aggravated assault against an officer or public servant. The minimum sentence for someone convicted of aggravated assault in Texas is two years.
Aggravated Sexual Assault
Aggravated sexual assault is a special subsection under aggravated assault that seeks to penalize one more severely. One commits this penalty if, during the performing of an aggravated assault, they penetrate the mouth, anus or sexual organ of another person. However to be convicted of aggravated sexual assault, one must knowingly (or intentionally) be penetrating the victim. Furthermore, in case it’s not obvious, to commit this infraction it must be without the consent of the victim.
The minimum offense for aggravated sexual assault in Texas (as of 2022), is five years. If the victim is a child then one is looking at a minimum sentence of 25 years.
Sexual assault is defined in two ways by the State and one of which is universally controversial. First, the common definition is the penetration of the anus, mouth or any sexual organ without the permission of the other person (assuming they are an adult).
However, in Texas, it’s also sexual assault if one penetrates a sexual organ of another person who is under the age even if 1) the offender did not know the child was underage and 2) even if the person did not know the minor was underage AND the minor consented to penetration.
Given the variety of circumstances related to this offense, it’s probably best to check Section 22.011 which deals with Sexual Assault penalties in Texas. As well as labeling the specific circumstances which create it.
Indecent is the final form of assault defined by the state of Texas and deals with the touching, not striking, of someone in a sensitive (our word not Texas’) area. Those areas are defined as touching someone else:
- anus, breast, or any part of the genitals of another person;
- (any part of) their genitals of any person;
However, the state also allows for one to be charged with indecent assault if they expose themselves (genitals, buttocks, breasts..etc) to another. Furthermore, if someone causes another person to come into contact with the blood, semen, saliva, urine, feces or vaginal fluid, without the permission of the other person, they can be charged and convicted of indecent assault in Texas. Indecent assault is a Class A Misdemeanor, which comes with a fine of up to $4,000 and a minimum sentence of 90 days in jail. Read more about Indecent Assault in Texas.