What is assault by contact?
Assault by contact occurs when an individual intentionally or knowingly causes physical contact with another person when he or she knows or should reasonably believe that the other person will regard the contact as offensive or provocative. Shoving someone, poking them in the chest or spitting on them are common examples of assault by contact.
It’s important to point out that there is no requirement for bodily injury to occur in order to be charged with assault by contact. Bodily injury is defined broadly as physical pain, illness, or impairment. For example, if you spit on person during an argument, you could be charged with assault by contact even though no injury occurred since you should have known that spitting on someone is offensive and provocative contact.
Assault by contact charges sometimes arise from sporting events when spectators get into it with a referee, athlete or coach. If you or a loved one have been ticketed for Fort Worth assault by contact, it’s important to contact an experienced defense attorney to resolve the case in a manner that will not adversely impact your future.
What is required to prove assault by contact?
In order to make a case against you for assault by contact, a prosecutor must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the act was done intentionally or knowingly to provoke or offend the victim. “Intentionally” means that the perpetrator desired a certain result and acted in a manner to achieve that result. “Knowingly” means that a perpetrator acted in such a way where he or she should have known his actions were reasonably certain to bring about a certain result. In other words, without proof of intention to offend a victim, a prosecutor cannot win an assault conviction. Accidental offensive acts, such bumping into someone, do not rise to criminal conduct.
How is assault by contact punished in Fort Worth?
Generally, assault by contact is a Class C Misdemeanor in Texas, which is a ticket punishable by a maximum $500 fine. However, the punishment can be elevated if:
- the victim is elderly is disabled person; or
- the actor knows the victim is an athlete or sports official participating in a sporting event at the time of the assault; or
- the actor assaults the athlete or sports official during his or her performance in an athletic event
|Misdemeanor Assault by Contact||Penalty||Possible Jail Time||Maximum Fine|
|Assault by Threat|
(verbal threat, no bodily injury)
|Class C Misdemeanor||None||$500|
|Assault by Contact|
(physical contact, no bodily injury)
|Class C Misdemeanor||None||$500|
|Assault by Contact against disabled/elderly person||Class A Misdemeanor||Max 1 year||$4,000|
|Assault by Contact against sports participant||Class B Misdemeanor||Max 180 days||$2,000 fine|
What are possible defenses for a Fort Worth assault by contact case?
There are several defenses we can potentially raise for a Fort Worth assault by contact case. As mentioned before, we can possibly attack the elements of the charge, arguing that the defendant had no intent to provoke or offend the victim. If a prosecutor cannot prove this element of the offense, they cannot win an assault by contact conviction.
We could also potentially argue that you were acting in self-defense. Texas recognizes your right to defend yourself and others when faced with credible harm or violence, assuming you did not provoke the initial threat of violence. Any response to violence must be proportionate, meaning that if a person shoved you, you may not respond by breaking their nose. You may only use the minimum force required to protect yourself and others.
Our experienced Fort Worth criminal defense lawyers will review the facts and circumstances of your case and develop an appropriate and effective defense strategy to produce the most favorable outcome.
Shouldn’t I just pay the ticket and quickly put it behind me?
No, that is actually the worst thing you can do. If you just pay the ticket, it will result in criminal conviction on your record – for assault. This could adversely impact your future when you apply for a job, housing or a loan.
Our goal for Fort Worth assault by contact cases is to resolve them in a manner that will not result in a conviction and will make you eligible for an expunction, which would erase the record of your arrest. Call today for a free consultation with a member of our team and let us work to put this incident behind you.