Domestic violence charges in Texas are described in the Texas Penal Code as Assault Family Violence. The conduct ranges from merely offensive contact to serious bodily injury caused by strangulation or the use of a deadly weapon. Punishment ranges from a fine not to exceed $500.00 all the way to decades in prison.
Every domestic violence charge in Texas begins with a relationship described in Chapter 71 of the Texas Family Code. The Texas penal code assault family violence provision applies the assault statute, § 22.01, to family, household, and dating relationships. The family code defines those relationships as follows:
§ 71.003 (Family) – “Family” includes individuals related by consanguinity or affinity, as determined under Sections 573.022 and 573.024, Government Code, individuals who are former spouses of each other, individuals who are the parents of the same child, without regard to marriage, and a foster child and foster parent, without regard to whether those individuals reside together.
§ 71.005 (Household) – “Household” means a unit composed of persons living together in the same dwelling, without regard to whether they are related to each other.
§ 71.0021(b) (Dating Relationship) – “Dating Relationship” means a relationship between individuals who have or have had a continuing relationship of a romantic or intimate nature. The existence of such a relationship shall be determined based on consideration of:
- The length of the relationship;
- The nature of the relationship; and
- The frequency and type of interaction between the persons involved in the relationship.
Domestic violence charges in Texas are unique, and there are many strategies a domestic violence attorney can use in your defense. If you or someone you care about has been arrested for assault family violence, call me for a domestic violence attorney free consultation. Possible domestic violence charges in Texas consist of:
Class C Misdemeanor Assault Family Violence
Class C Misdemeanor Assault Family Violence is the lowest domestic violence charge in Texas. It is equivalent to a traffic ticket in that it is punishable only by a fine not to exceed $500.00. But, a conviction for Class C Misdemeanor Assault Family Violence triggers an affirmative finding of family violence, and that finding in the judgment can have several long-term consequences. When you a receive a citation for a Class C Misdemeanor, your citation tells you to appear in a municipal or justice of the peace court by a certain date. At the municipal or justice court level, Class C Assault Family Violence is the most serious case the prosecutors handle. Therefore, if you try to represent yourself, there is a good chance you’ll walk away with a conviction and all the nasty consequences that come from an affirmative finding of family violence. Even if you’re only facing a Class C Assault Family Violence charge, I still recommend contacting a domestic violence defense attorney to fight on your behalf. A domestic violence defense attorney will do everything possible to avoid a conviction and set you up to have your domestic violence charge expunged.
Class C Misdemeanor Assault Family Violence comes from § 22.01(a)(2) and § 22.01(a)(3) of the Texas penal code. A person commits an offense if the person:
§ 22.01(a)(2): intentionally or knowingly threatens another with imminent bodily injury, including the person’s spouse; or
§ 22.01(a)(3): intentionally or knowingly causes physical contact with another when the person knows or should reasonably believe that the other will regard the contact as offensive or provocative.
“Bodily injury” means physical pain, illness, or any impairment of the physical condition. So, any threat to immediately cause physical pain, illness, or impairment to a person subject to a Ch. 71 relationship constitutes Class C Misdemeanor Assault Family Violence. The statute, however, does not apply to conditional or future threats of bodily injury.
Courts apply a reasonable person standard when defining offensive or provocative contact. For example, walking past a stranger on a park trail and shoving that stranger off the path might not cause him or her pain, but a reasonable person would know that shoving a stranger off a walking path would cause offense or provocation. If such conduct takes place against someone subject to a Ch. 71 relationship, it is Class C Misdemeanor Assault Family Violence. Click here for Assault Family Violence Texas Punishment.
Class A Misdemeanor Assault Family Violence
Class A Misdemeanor Assault Family Violence applies a Ch. 71 relationship to Texas Penal Code § 22.01(a)(1). Under § 22.01(a)(1), a person commits an offense if the person intentionally, knowingly, or recklessly causes bodily injury to another, including the person’s spouse. So, physical pain, illness, or impairment not accidentally inflicted upon someone subject to a Ch. 71 relationship constitutes a Class A Misdemeanor in the state of Texas.
Class A Assault Family Violence carries significant penalties. While deferred adjudication probation is a possibility, deferred adjudication for a Class A domestic violence charge in Texas is not eligible for a nondisclosure. So, unlike other offenses, if you receive deferred adjudication for Class A Misdemeanor Assault Family Violence, the domestic violence charge will stay on your record forever. But these cases can be resolved as Class C Misdemeanor Assault Family Violence. That is why hiring a domestic violence defense attorney with a proven track record of success is so important. Click here to schedule your free consultation today.
Is domestic violence a felony in Texas?
Assault Family Violence with Previous Conviction
Texas Penal Code Assault Family Violence § 22.01(b)(2)(A) states that conduct described under § 22.01(a)(1), committed against someone subject to a Ch. 71 relationship, constitutes a third-degree felony if:
it is shown on the trial of the offense that the defendant has been previously convicted of an offense under this chapter, Chapter 19, or Section 20.03, 20.04, 21.11, or 25.11 against a person whose relationship to or association with the defendant is described by Section 71.0021(b), 71.003, or 71.005, Family Code.
Texas Penal Code § 22.01(b)(2)(A)
Assault Family Violence Impede Breath or Circulation
Also known as Assault Family Violence Strangulation, Texas Penal Code Assault Family Violence § 22.01(b)(2)(B) describes the following conduct as a third-degree felony:
The offense is committed by intentionally, knowingly, or recklessly impeding the normal breathing or circulation of the blood of the person by applying pressure to the person’s throat or neck or by blocking the person’s nose or mouth.
Texas Penal Code § 22.01(b)(2)(B)
A key point to remember with Assault Family Violence Impede Breath or Circulation is that the person allegedly strangled must be subject to a Ch. 71 relationship. If the complaining witness is not a member of your family, household, or involved in a dating relationship with you, then the conduct described in Texas Penal Code Assault Family Violence § 22.01(b)(2)(B) is Class A Assault with no finding of family violence.
Aggravated Assault Family Violence
Texas Penal Code Assault Family Violence treats Aggravated Assault Family Violence as a second- or first-degree felony, depending on the conduct alleged. Texas Penal Code § 22.02(a) states that a person commits an offense if the person commits assault as defined in § 22.01 and the person:
- Causes serious bodily injury to another, including the person’s spouse; or
- Uses or exhibits a deadly weapon during the commission of the assault.
“Serious bodily injury” means bodily injury that creates a substantial risk of death or that causes death, serious permanent disfigurement, or protracted loss or impairment of the function of any bodily member or organ; and
“Deadly weapon” means a firearm or anything manifestly designed, made, or adapted for the purpose of inflicting death or serious bodily injury; or anything that in the manner of its use or intended use is capable of causing death or serious bodily injury.
Domestic violence charges in Texas – free consultation
If you are facing a charge of Aggravated Assault Family Violence, you must consult a domestic violence defense attorney. Aggravated Assault Family Violence carries the possibility of multiple decades in prison. Often times, prosecutors treat an injury as a serious bodily injury when it may actually be better categorized as a bodily injury. When it comes to deadly weapon, the broad definition allows prosecutors the opportunity to label just about anything as a deadly weapon. The difference between those terms can change a second- or first-degree felony to a Class A Misdemeanor under the right circumstances. A domestic violence attorney can fight to make sure prosecutors don’t overcharge you. For a free domestic violence consultation, connect with me by phone, email, or online by clicking here.