Distinctions Between Assault and Aggravated Assault in Dallas

Distinctions Between Assault and Aggravated Assault in Dallas

What Defendants Should Know About Assault and Aggravated Assault in Dallas

There are many different kinds of assaults in Dallas, and the difference between a felony and a misdemeanor often comes down to the severity of the assault.

In 2016, there were 4,529 assaults in Dallas, which was a sharp increase from the 3,943 assaults that occurred in 2015. (1)

These statistics show that assault remains a persistent problem in the city of Dallas, and that’s why anyone arrested on this charge of assault in Dallas must understand the difference and possible penalties for an assault or an aggravated assault.

Assault in Texas

An assault in Texas is defined under penal code 22.01, which states: a person commits an offense if the person intentionally, knowingly, or recklessly causes bodily injury to another, including the person’s spouse, or intentionally or knowingly threatens another with imminent bodily injury, including the person’s spouse, or 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. (2)

It’s important to understand that an assault doesn’t have to include physical contact because the act of threatening another person with physical harm and then taking some action to commit that harm is sufficient.

An assault charge will always include an act of some kind that is threatening in nature, but the second element is that the victim must have feared that the threat of bodily harm was imminent.

For example, if two men are arguing and one man threatens to kill the other man, then pulls out a gun, that person would be guilty of assault even if he didn’t fire the gun.

However, if the two men were arguing and one man threatened to kill the other man but took no further action or made no move toward the other man, it wouldn’t be considered an assault.

What Is Aggravated Assault?

In some instances, prosecutors may decide to charge a defendant with aggravated assault, which is a more serious crime than standard assault.

Under Texas penal code 22.02, an aggravated assault occurs when a person causes serious bodily injury to another, including the person’s spouse, or uses or exhibits a deadly weapon during the commission of the assault. (3)

Texas law defines a deadly weapon as any weapon that is made to cause death or serious bodily injury.

Aggravated assault is a more serious crime than simple assault because the consequences are usually worse.

For example, a person arrested for using a knife to stab another person during an argument has a much higher chance of killing the victim than a person arrested for taking out a knife and threatening to use it, but never actually stabbing the other person.

An aggravated assault charge is a felony in Texas, and the severity of the injuries or bodily harm that a defendant caused to the victim often determine the penalties if the defendant is convicted in a trial.

Common Assault Defenses

Although assault charges can be serious, there are some common assault defenses that can help defendants in their cases, including:

  • Self-Defense – The law permits people to defend themselves from the threat of or actual violence or force that could cause bodily harm or injury. However, the force or violence that a person uses to prevent bodily harm or injury can’t exceed the threat itself. For example, defendants can’t claim self-defense if they used a gun to end the threat of someone attacking them with their fists because the gun exceeded the force necessary to end the threat.
  • Consent – In a few circumstances, a defendant can use the consent strategy, which states that the victim consented to the conditions that resulted in the alleged assault. For example, in an assault case that involves sex, the defendant could argue that the victim consented to physical touching of a sexual nature.

Finding Experienced Assault in Dallas Lawyers

Victims of an assault in Dallas have the right to pursue a criminal case against a defendant, but that defendant also has the right to find Dallas assault lawyers that have the expertise and knowledge to mount a strong defense.

Assault cases are often complex and can pivot on the testimony of eyewitnesses, expert witnesses, or a meticulous recreation of the events. An experienced criminal defense team can provide the services necessary to protect a defendant’s legal right.

Broden & Mickelsen, LLP
Dallas Best Criminal Defense Lawyers
T:(214) 720-9552


  1. http://www.city-data.com/crime/crime-Dallas-Texas.html
  2. https://statutes.capitol.texas.gov/Docs/PE/htm/PE.22.htm
  3. https://www.tdcaa.com/taxonomy/term/13


Prior results cannot and do not guarantee or predict a similar outcome with respect to any future case.

Mick Mickelsen is a nationally recognized criminal trial attorney with more than 30 years of experience defending people charged with white-collar crimes, drug offenses, sex crimes, murder, and other serious state and federal offenses.