The annual brawl between Texas A&M and Alabama takes place on the football field. Tempers have been known to get hot, and a player can be benched for the game for flagrantly roughing the kicker or passer, for unnecessary roughness, or for targeting. However, as long as the hits stay on the field and comply with the rules of the game, no one will go to jail.
Even in Texas, fighting in public is against the law. The circumstances of the fight, the fight itself, the injuries done to people, and the damage done to any property will determine what charges may be filed. Whatever the consequences are, they are likely to be more severe than getting benched for the rest of a football game.
You can go to jail for getting into a fight in Texas, and a conviction for Fighting or for Assault - Bodily Injury can follow you for the rest of your life. If you have been arrested and charged with Fighting or with Assault - Bodily Injury, you need an experienced criminal defense attorney on your team.
Attorney Rick Davis has nearly 30 years of legal experience as a criminal defense attorney. Over 8 of those years, Rick Davis served as a judge — first as a Judge of Brazos County Court at Law No. 2, then as District Judge of the 272nd District Court. Rick has represented thousands of clients across Bryan and College Station, Texas with tenacity, compassion, respect, and integrity.
Criminal Charges for Fighting or Committing Assault in Texas
Where you fight, who you fight, and the injuries caused factor into the charges and the penalties you may face.
A conviction for fighting or Assault will remain on your record, and if you are ever charged with another crime against a person later in the future, the court can use the prior conviction to justify a harsher penalty for the subsequent conviction.
Depending on the nature of the previous Assault, a previous assault conviction is sometimes used to increase the actual grade of the offense charge.
For example, Assault – Family Violence is a Class A misdemeanor. Assault – Family Violence with a previous conviction for Assault – Family Violence is a third-degree felony.
Intentionally or knowingly fighting another person in a public place falls under the definition of “disorderly conduct” which, under Texas law, is a Class C misdemeanor.
Most disorderly conduct charges, including Disorderly Conduct – Fighting, are Class C misdemeanors and are punishable by a fine of up to $500. However, if you commit Disorderly Conduct by displaying a gun, you could be charged with a Class B misdemeanor, which is punishable by a fine of up to $2,000 and confinement in jail for up to 180 days, or both.
Assault charges for the mere threat of bodily injury or for mere threat of offensive contact are generally Class C misdemeanors. If the other person is an athlete or sports official participating in a sporting event at the time of the Class C Assault – Threatening Bodily Injury or Assault – Offensive Contact, the charge could be elevated to a Class B misdemeanor.
A person can be charged with “simple” assault - bodily injury if he:
Knowingly, intentionally, or recklessly causes bodily injury to someone else
Threatens another with imminent bodily injury
Causes physical contact with someone else knowing that action will be regarded the contact as offensive or provocative.
The first of the three listed above is considered a Class A Misdemeanor in Texas. The second two are considered Class C misdemeanors. Source
Assaulting a law enforcement officer, emergency responder, public figure, or an elderly person by causing bodily injury is a third-degree felony in Texas.
Use or display of a weapon during a fight may also lead to Aggravated Assault charges.
In Texas, a person commits Aggravated Assault when he commits an assault that either:
Causes serious bodily injury to another, including the person's spouse; or
Uses or exhibits a deadly weapon during the commission of the assault.
Aggravated Assault is a second-degree felony in Texas. If an Aggravated Assault is against a family member, it can be charged as a second-degree felony.
Depending upon the circumstances that led to the fight, you may be able to raise a defensefor your actions.
If you were defending yourself against someone else’s unprovoked aggression, your attorney may be able to successfully raise self-defense.
Other defenses include defending third persons from an assault by an aggressor.
Finally, Texas law provides that a person is justified in using force against another when the person reasonably believes that the force is immediately necessary to prevent or terminate the aggressor’s trespass on the land or unlawful interference with the property.
Some assault charges can be classified as a felony or aggravated assault — serious bodily injury. Others are be classified as a misdemeanor. Under Texas Law:
Class C Misdemeanor: a fine of up to $500
Class B Misdemeanor: Up to 180 days in county jail or a fine up to $2,000, or both
Class A Misdemeanor: Up to one year in jail or a fine up to $4,000, or both
3rd Degree Felony: From two to 10 years in prison and a fine up to $10,000
2nd Degree Felony: From two to 20 years in prison and a fine of up to $10,000, and
1st Degree Felony: From five to 99 years in prison and a fine up to $10,000.
If you are charged with Assault in Texas, there are many different types of consequences that you could face, such as:
Incarceration in a Texas Prison – If convicted of a felony assault charge, you could be incarcerated in any one of Texas’ 99 prison units. Source
Confinement in a Texas County Jail – If convicted of a misdemeanor assault charge, you could be locked up in a County Jail for up to 180 days for a Class B Misdemeanor or 375 Days for a Class A misdemeanor. Source
Probation – You could be placed on supervision for a period of time and be required to comply with many terms and conditions of probation. Straight probation includes a conviction and assessment of a sentence, either time in jail or time in prison, but the sentence will be suspended while you are on probation. Deferred Adjudication probation does not include a conviction. Instead, the Judge “defers” or postpones the decision as to whether to make a finding of guilty. If you successfully complete the Deferred Adjudication probation, then you would never have a conviction for that offense.
Prohibited from Purchasing or Possessing Firearms - This means any firearms you currently possess could be confiscated.
Restitution - You could be ordered to pay restitution to repay a victim’s medical bills incurred because of injury or to pay for property damage.
Civil Liability - A victim could pursue a civil lawsuit against you to recover compensation for personal injury or property damage, separate from and in addition to the criminal proceedings.
The seriousness of possible consequences in your case also depends on several other few factors, such as whether you have had any previous criminal convictions in your history, whether you have been placed on probation before, whether the assault was aggravated or not, whether you are a U.S. citizen or not, and whether there are any children or substance abuse issues involved.
Possible Penalties, even if NOT convicted
If you have been charged with Assault – Family Violence and receive Deferred Adjudication probation and successfully complete the probation, that is good because it keeps a conviction off of your record.
However, the “Family Violence” designation attached to the Deferred Adjudication prevents the record from being sealed through an Order for Non-Disclosure.
That means that the record of your Assault – Family Violence charge and the Deferred Adjudication probation will likely always appear on background checks and be on your record forever!
Let an Experienced Attorney Help
If you have been charged with Aggravated Assault – Serious Bodily Injury, Aggravated Assault – Deadly Weapon, Assault – Family Violence or Assault – Family Violence, Strangulation (impeding breath or circulation), you need to get an attorney!
Even if you were in a minor fight with no injuries but were arrested and charged with an offense, it would be wise to hire an experienced criminal defense attorney who knows how to mount a defense for you and mitigate the consequences of a heated moment.
One bad decision could remain on your record as an act of violence for the rest of your life. An aggressive attorney can prevent that from happening.
Rick Davis has vast experience in criminal law, both as a criminal defense attorney and as a Judge. For three decades, he has represented clients from Bryan, Texas, and the surrounding communities of College Station, Brenham, Anderson, Madisonville, and Caldwell, as well as Washington, Grimes, Burleson, and Madison counties.