Assault charges are some of the most common violent criminal offenses that the state prosecutes in Texas. Despite how common the offense is, many people have an over-simplified idea of what constitutes assault.
Many people think that assault scenarios are black and white with one party obviously harming the other. The first and best-known definition of assault involves a person intentionally causing physical harm to another, possibly by striking them or shoving them down the stairs.
However, there are two other scenarios beyond intentionally causing physical harm through direct contact with another person that could lead to assault charges under Texas law. What are the two other definitions of assault?
Putting someone in fear for their immediate safety
Assault is as much about the fear of harm as it is about the injury someone suffers. Whether you verbally threaten someone during an argument, type out a lengthy screed online or pull your fist back as though you intend to strike someone in the face, the implied threat could constitute assault.
Even if you did not intend to follow through on the threat, it will be the perception of the other party that determines if the situation is assault or not. Texas can prosecute individuals for assault when their words or actions put someone else in fear for their immediate physical safety. In-person interactions as well as text messages and social media conversations could lead to assault allegations under Texas law.
Touching someone in an offensive or provocative manner
The third definition of assault under Texas state law applies to physical contact intended to offend another person. Touching someone on their genitals could be an example of a provocative or offensive touch. An unrelated man intentionally making contact with a Muslim woman could be another example.
Depending on the legal basis for the assault charges against you, there could be multiple defense strategies that might work in your case. You could provide an alibi in a case of mistaken identity or possibly provide evidence that the other party struck you first and you merely acted in self-defense. Educating yourself about what can be an important step if you want to defend against allegations that you assaulted someone else.