What does assault by contact mean in Texas?
One commits assault by contact if he (or she) intentionally or knowingly causes physical contact with another person when he knows or should reasonably believe that the other person will regard the contact as offensive or provocative. Assault by contact is usually a class C misdemeanor, the lowest level of criminal offense in Texas.
If you are accused of assault by physical contact, it may be tempting to simply plead no contest, pay the fine, and move on. Fighting the charge when the maximum penalty is the equivalent of a traffic ticket may not seem worth the effort. But taking such a conviction lightly would be a mistake.
The primary issue with taking a conviction in this type of case is the impact that an “assault” conviction will have on your criminal record. These days, many organizations order criminal background checks on all serious job applicants and a surprising number of employers are also doing periodic checks on existing employees. Many of them are reluctant to hire or promote employees seen as having anger management issues or a “history of violence.”
Any assault conviction or plea that includes a “family violence” allegation has additional consequences including losing the right to possess a firearm, problems getting a state-issued professional license and serious immigration issues for non-citizens. You can be charged with family violence assault against someone that is not in your family.
Rather than asking yourself if you can afford to fight a charge of assault by contact, you should ask yourself if you can afford to be permanently branded as a violent criminal.