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What is the Difference Between Assault and Aggravated Assault?

While we hear the terms assault and aggravated assault in movies and television programs quite frequently, many don’t really know what the difference between the charges is and the ramifications that they entail.

In Texas, the difference between assault and aggravated assault is the difference between a misdemeanor charge and a felony charge. So if you or a loved one is facing one of those charges, then it is important to understand what factors turn a regular assault charge into an aggravated assault charge, since the difference in charges carry vastly different repercussions in terms of sentencing and long-term consequences for the future.

According to the Texas Penal Code, assault is defined as intentionally threatening to inflict bodily harm upon someone and causing that person to fear for their safety or physically touching a person in a way that would be considered offensive. For example, shoving or slapping someone can be considered assault, and so could threatening to beat someone up and raising your fists in anger. Assault could also include grabbing someone by the throat and threatening to kill them, even if you didn’t physically harm them.

Aggravated assault introduces other elements at play, specifically that you have actually inflicted serious bodily harm, or you have used or displayed a deadly weapon in the process of assault. For example, beating someone so bad that they end up in the hospital could be grounds for aggravated assault charges, or with our example of grabbing someone by the throat and threatening to kill them, that charge could be aggravated assault if you put a knife to their throat or a gun to their head in the process, even if you didn’t physically harm them in the end.

Many different types of objects can be defined as a deadly weapon, it isn’t limited to just guns and knives:

  • It includes any other type of object designed as a weapon, obviously, including swords, martial arts weapons, crossbows, and more.
  • It includes anything that could be adapted for the purpose of inflicting serious harm or death on someone, like a baseball bat, lead pipe, or hammer.
  • It includes anything that you manage to use in a way capable of inflicting serious injury or death, including a piece of broken glass, your automobile, or even a heavy rock.

While a misdemeanor charge is serious and can result in many complications for your life, your work, and beyond, the prospect of a felony charge of aggravated assault carries with it much more serious complications, including longer prison sentences, and reverberations that will impact your life in serious ways for many years to come, including whenever you apply for a job or try to seek out housing. If you ever find yourself in trouble with the law again, a prior felony charge can also make it much more difficult to reduce the charges or receive a more lenient sentence.

If you’re facing assault or aggravated assault charges, then it is crucial that you work with an experienced criminal defense attorney to help ensure that this incident doesn’t permanently derail your life. The team at Fears Nachawati has helped many Texans navigate the legal waters surrounding assault charges to ensure that the law works with them, not against them, and can guide you through each step of the legal process and help you get your life back on track. In order to schedule your free, no-obligation legal consultation at one of our offices located throughout the state of Texas, including in Houston, Dallas, Fort Worth, San Antonio, and Austin, please call (866) 705-7584.

Criminal Law