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Can you be arrested for assault without touching anyone?

On Behalf of | Aug 27, 2023 | Criminal Defense

Say that you have an encounter with someone that turns into an argument. Words are exchanged, and you’re not even fully sure what you said, but you end up getting arrested for assault. Perhaps the police were called.

You do not understand how you could be charged with assault, much less convicted. You never assaulted the other person, you believe, because you never touched them. Why were you arrested anyway?

Assault includes credible threats

The key to this situation is in how assault is defined under the law in Texas. Assault does often involve someone causing bodily injury to another person. These charges could occur after two people get involved in a physical altercation, such as a fistfight, for example. But you can also be charged with assault if you “intentionally or knowingly, threaten another with imminent bodily injury.”

The threat does need to be credible. But as long as the victim believes that you were honest about a threat and they have a legitimate fear based on it, you could be accused of assaulting them. You do not necessarily have to make contact or carry out the threat to be convicted of assault in Texas.

One example of making a credible threat can occur if any sort of weapon is involved. If you are holding an item, you threaten to strike the other person with it, and you’re close enough to do so, they could say that that was a credible threat, even if you walk away before you actually strike them. Or, perhaps they flee the scene, thinking that they are about to be physically assaulted. No physical event may have taken place yet, but it is still theoretically possible that they would claim you already assaulted them by making a threat that causing them to fear for their life.

What options do you have?

Of course, a case like this can be very complicated. Who was really at fault? How credible was the threat? Is the whole thing just being blown out of proportion after a few minor insults were exchanged? These are just a few of the questions you may want to ask an attorney as you construct a defense strategy.