Violent crimes don’t always involve someone suffering a fatal or life-altering injury. Assault is one of the most common violent criminal charges in Texas. It is also one of the offenses with the broadest definitions.
A massive range of behaviors could fall under the umbrella of assault and potentially lead to prosecution. Some people who get arrested for assault in Texas feel legitimately surprised that the charges brought against them. They know that they did not cause serious physical injury to another person.
If you are one of those surprised individuals accused of assault but certain that you did not hurt someone else, can the lack of injury play a role in your defense?
Assault doesn’t necessarily require serious injury
Contrary to what people might think, the definition of assault in Texas does not necessitate physical injury. While causing physical harm to someone else intentionally is a form of assault, it is far from the only legal definition.
Instead, numerous behaviors that don’t result in physical injury could lead to assault charges. You don’t even need to touch the other part for the state to charge you. If you directly threatened someone but did not then follow through and injure them, the threat itself could lead to assault charges. Fighting words uttered outside a local bar, hyperbole sent in a direct message on the internet or even aggressive body language during a road rage encounter might all lead to assault allegations under Texas law.
You could also face assault charges when you touch someone in an offensive manner. Some kinds of assault depend on the other party’s perspective. It can be daunting to think about defending yourself if the claim is that you made someone else feel afraid. How can you prove otherwise?
One possible defense strategy would be to show that a reasonable person would not fear for their safety in the same situation or would not find the same conduct to be offensive. You could also potentially show that your actions were in response to instigation on the other party’s behalf or raise a question as to whether you were present at all.
Broadening your understanding of Texas assault laws will be an important first step when planning your defense strategy.