The term “assault” typically conjures images of hitting someone or injuring them in some way. However, even more minor actions, such as pushing someone or even spitting on them, could be considered criminal offenses under Texas state law. While assault by contact offenses typically carry less severe penalties than other assaultive crimes, a conviction can still wreak havoc on your reputation and your future. Here’s what you need to know about assault by contact charges in the Pearland and South Houston area.
Defining Assault in Texas
According to Title 5, Section 22.01 of the Texas Penal Code, assault is defined in three ways. Assault occurs when a person: “(1) intentionally, knowingly, or recklessly causes bodily injury to another, including the person’s spouse; (2) intentionally or knowingly threatens another with imminent bodily injury, including the person’s spouse; or (3) 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.” This third definition means that small actions, even those that do not cause physical harm, could lead to criminal charges. Depending on the context, a push or shove could result in your arrest.
Penalties of an Assault by Contact Conviction
In most cases, assault by contact is charged as a Class C misdemeanor. If convicted of a Class C misdemeanor, you would be ordered to pay up to $500 in fines. Of course, certain factors may elevate the charges to a Class B or Class A misdemeanor, like when the alleged victim belongs to a particular protected group (elderly citizen, public servant, etc.) Although a $500 fine might not seem like a harsh penalty in comparison to jail time or other consequences, the conviction will appear on your criminal record, potentially limiting your housing and employment options. Even if the incident was not particularly violent, an employer could be reluctant to hire someone with an assault charge (however minor) on their record. Additionally, having this conviction on your record can increase the penalties for future assaultive offenses; suddenly, a misdemeanor assault charge becomes a felony assault charge because you have a previous conviction on your record.
How a Pearland Criminal Defense Attorney Can Help
As soon as you’ve been arrested for an assaultive offense, it’s in your best interest to contact a trusted criminal defense lawyer to discuss your situation. While it may feel tempting to admit your guilt, pay the $500 fine, and move on, doing so puts your future at risk. Working with a skilled criminal defense attorney is the best way to ensure your rights remain protected as you fight to obtain a favorable outcome.
Call the Law Offices of Keith G. Allen, PLLC, today at (832) 230-0075 to arrange a free consultation with a trusted Pearland criminal defense lawyer.