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Are threats considered assault in Texas?

On Behalf of | Jul 7, 2023 | Criminal Defense

Assault is one of the most common violent charges that Texas prosecutors file against individuals. Allegations of assault can vary in severity significantly. Some people end up accused of assault because they’ve seriously injured someone else or negligently caused an injury with a weapon. Others may face assault charges because they did something offensive to another person, such as grabbing an individual in a provocative or sexual manner.

However, there doesn’t necessarily need to be any physical contact between the people involved in the incident for prosecutors to pursue assault charges in Texas. The state can even treat threats as an assault, under certain circumstances

Threats can be a form of assault

When looking at the definition of assault in Texas state statutes, the second portion of the definition makes it clear that threatening behavior can constitute assault. Any words or actions intended to put someone else in fear for their physical safety can be sufficient for the state to bring charges against the person intimidating someone else.

Verbal threats, such as a statement that one person will attack the other, can constitute assault. Written threats, including messages delivered online or via SMS text messaging, may also lead to assault charges. Even body language, like pulling back one’s fist as though to strike someone can be a physical threat that puts someone in fear for their safety.

An assault charge resulting from a threat will generally lead to the lowest degree of assault charge, which would be a Class C misdemeanor. If convicted, the defendant could face up to $500 in fines. However, other details from the situation could lead to enhanced charges, such as when the person targeted is an athlete or a public servant.

The more evidence there is of someone making the threat, such as a digital record or video footage of the altercation, the easier it will be for the prosecutor to establish that someone’s threatening words or behavior constituted assault. Understanding how Texas defines assault and what actions put someone at risk of prosecution may help people make smarter decisions when dealing with interpersonal conflict or responding to criminal allegations in the Lone Star state.