Domestic assault is a tricky subject for several reasons, including the complexity of the law, how it interacts with other offenses, and the topic itself. Stress and emotions can run high from all of life's frustrations. Sometimes arguments lead to one party making accusations in the heat of the moment, or feelings can spill over, causing an incident.
Whether you're facing false accusations of abuse or trying to manage the fallout of a one-time event that got out of control, hiring a skilled criminal defense attorney can help protect your rights. Domestic violence is a serious offense at both the state and federal levels, and a conviction can have a lasting impact on your entire life.
Types of Domestic Violence Under Texas Law
In Texas, the law covers an expansive range of domestic violence events. The law classifies assault cases as simple or aggravated, but domestic violence can extend beyond either definition. Common types of domestic violence in Texas include:
- Domestic Assault — Domestic assault is essentially the same as simple assault between family members.
- Threatening a Family Member — The law considers threatening to harm or physically endanger a family a class C misdemeanor assault.
- Aggravated Assault — Aggravated assault occurs when a person commits a simple assault with the added element of using a deadly weapon during the event.
- Continuous Family Violence — If a family member commits assault two or more times in twelve months, that is considered continuous family violence under the family code of violence.
An experienced domestic violence lawyer can help you understand the severity of your charges and craft an appropriate defense.
Which Relationships Can Include Domestic Assault?
Texas uses the family code in determining which family members it considers subjects of domestic assault. Under the family code, a broad range of relationships can fall into domestic assault. Texas uses this definition to address these matters in family court.
Family relationships under Texas law include:
- Any spouse, husband, or wife, whether currently married or divorced
- Parental figures of the same child, including foster children and foster parents
- Traditional family relationships connected by blood, marriage, or adoption
- Roommates or any group of people that share the same housing or living space
- Past or present dating partners; this type of relationship requires proof
In any personal relationship, emotions can color our judgment. If you believe you're being falsely accused of domestic assault, hiring a criminal attorney to help you defend yourself can be a life-changing decision.
What Is Domestic Assault?
What constitutes domestic assault in Texas is basically the same as a general assault charge. However, Texas law classifies these relationships differently to alter the consequences to match the severity of the offense. In family relationships, stakes are higher, and the law takes these incidents more seriously.
In Texas, a police officer can charge you with domestic assault for the following three incidents:
- Family members threatening or instituting the fear of physical violence, bodily injury, or sexual assault. It does not include self-defense actions taken during those instances.
- Abuse from any family member directed at a child within the house or family.
- Violence between dating partners. The court classifies these relationships differently, but the consequences are similar.
Consequences for Domestic Assault Convictions
In many cases, sentencing for domestic assault charges runs similar to general assault charges. However, depending on the severity of the incident, the consequences are much higher. If the court finds you guilty of the following, you could receive the associated sentence:
- Class A Misdemeanor — Up to a year in jail and/or a fine of up to $4,000
- Third-Degree Felony — 2 to 10 years in jail and a fine up to $10,000
- Second-Degree Felony — 2 to 20 years in jail and a fine up to $10,000
- First-Degree Felony — 5 to 99 years in jail and a fine up to $10,000
Each of these charges results in a criminal record that will follow you for the rest of your life. For first-degree felony charges, you may even have future difficulties with employment and financial support. If your domestic assault charges include sexual assault, you'll become a registered sex offender.
Protect Yourself From Domestic Assault Charges with a Trusted Criminal Lawyer
Jason English is a former 15-year prosecutor who knows how the other side thinks. Now an experienced criminal defense lawyer, he can anticipate the prosecution's approach and craft a defense for your domestic assault case that best protects your rights.
Before you plead guilty to any crime, you should understand your rights and retain the help of a skilled lawyer. Contact our team at 512-454-7548 in Austin, TX, or complete our online form to schedule your consultation today.
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The information in this blog post (“post”) is provided for general informational purposes only and may not reflect the current law in your jurisdiction. No information in this post should be construed as legal advice from the individual author or the law firm, nor is it intended to be a substitute for legal counsel on any subject matter. No reader of this post should act or refrain from acting based on any information included in or accessible through this post without seeking the appropriate legal or other professional advice on the particular facts and circumstances at issue from a lawyer licensed in the recipient's state, country or other appropriate licensing jurisdiction.