How to Beat a Simple Assault Charge: Your Guide to the Best Defense

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Many people think an assault charge stems from a fight between two parties that leaves bruises, cuts, and the like.

While this is often true, you can be charged with simple assault even if the alleged victim has no injuries.

As you can expect, this often leads to misunderstandings that result in law enforcement getting involved.

If you’ve been charged with simple assault, the consequences aren’t as bleak as you may think, and there are plenty of ways to handle it.

Not sure where to start? Don’t worry, we’ve got you covered.

Let’s take a look at everything you need to know about how to beat a simple assault charge.

What Is Simple Assault?

Before we begin, it’s important to understand what constitutes simple assault in the eyes of the law.

According to Tex. Penal Code Ann. § 22.01, a simple assault occurs during one of the following conditions:

    • Intentionally or recklessly causing bodily injury to another person

    • Intentionally or recklessly threatening another person with imminent harm

    • Making physical contact that the perpetrator knows the other person will perceive as provocative or offensive

So, something as simple as shoving another person or telling them you’ll beat them up could be classified as assault.

Let’s explore more about how ‘bodily injury,’ ‘provocative contact,’ and ‘recklessness’ are defined.

Bodily Injury

Injury as a result of simple assault must be minor by definition.

This means things like bruises and scrapes from a physical altercation.

Broken bones or disfigurement are classified as ‘serious bodily injury’ and the associated charge is ‘aggravated assault.’

Provocative Contact

This can seem ambiguous, but it’s fairly straightforward.

Inciting someone to fight you, shoving them, or aggressively invading their personal space could all be considered forms of simple assault.

Similarly, brushing up against someone in a sexual manner (such as unwanted dancing at a bar) is also a simple assault.


Acting in a manner that endangers others (whether intentional or not) is considered recklessness when it comes to simple assault.

Most commonly, this occurs when someone shoves another person out of the way in a crowded area.

What Is the Punishment for Simple Assault?

The punishment you’ll face depends on how severe the outcome was.

If the alleged victim is mostly fine, you’ll likely face a Class A misdemeanor. More severe injuries could result in a third-degree felony.

Typical punishments are as follows:

    • Class A Misdemeanor— Up to 12 months in jail, $4,000 fine

    • Class B Misdemeanor— Up to 180 days in jail, $2,000 fine

    • Class C Misdemeanor— No jail time, a fine of up to $500

A felony, though, is a much more serious scenario to deal with.

Third-degree felony assault could result in between two and ten years in prison. You could also face a fine of up to $10,000.

What Are My Legal Defense Options?

Fortunately, there are ways you can mitigate your punishment (or avoid one entirely), but your options heavily depend on the circumstances of the incident.

Your attorney will know the best course of action to take.

Let’s explore a few of the most reliable.

Acting in Self-Defense

Sometimes, your best legal defense is to claim self-defense.

The following example is a typical scenario where this would come into play.

David and his friends visit a bar in Houston, Texas, one evening to celebrate the recent engagement of his best friend Michael.

In the chaos of the crowded bar, a male who is aggressively pushing through David’s group knocks Michael’s drink out of his hand. David approaches the man and says, ‘What’s your problem? You need to pay for his drink,’ in a firm yet non-threatening manner.

The man immediately approaches David and shoves him, claiming he isn’t responsible for any sort of compensation.

David approaches the man once again, and the man grabs David’s left shoulder and arm. David manages to trip the man, causing him to stumble and smash his head against the edge of the bar.

The man leaves the bar. Minutes later, law enforcement shows up looking for David and arrests him for simple assault.

While the aggressor in this situation ended up with a bodily injury, David was acting in self-defense after he himself was assaulted twice (once from the shove, the second time from the grab).

De Minimus

This legal term means ‘trivial’ or ‘lacking significance’ and is often used to argue against assault charges where nothing noteworthy occurred as a result of the crime.

For example, if a shouting match ends in someone shoving the other person and law enforcement ends up getting involved, the aggressor may face a simple assault charge.

But, if no known physical harm or psychological distress occurred as a result of the altercation, there’s little reason for a judge to administer punishment. This is especially true if no physical contact was made.

Reduction to a Lesser Charge

If you’re unable to beat the assault charge, your attorney still has the opportunity to get your charge reduced to something less significant.

Rather than simple assault, your attorney could argue that the crime you’re being accused of was more along the lines of harassment. This often notably reduces the penalties that you’ll face.

Knowing How to Beat a Simple Assault Charge Can Seem Difficult

But it doesn’t have to be.

With the above information about how to beat a simple assault charge in mind, you’ll be well on your way to getting unnecessary charges dropped.

Want to learn more about how to handle a situation where you’re stopped by police?