There are three types of domestic violence that are recognized under Texas law. In this post we will explain each law and the associated penalties, and let you know what to do next if you are facing domestic violence charges in Texas.
Domestic assault is a threat or an act of violence against a person with whom the defendant has an intimate relationship. These relationships include the following types of people:
- Current or former spouse
- Current or former dating partner
- Parent of the defendant’s child or children
- Child of current or former spouse
- Foster child or foster parent
- Blood relatives or adopted relatives
An act of assault involves bodily injury or the threat of imminent bodily injury to any person in the above categories. The act must be intentional, knowing, or reckless. The act can also involve physical contact which is reasonably considered offensive or provocative by the victim.
A conviction for first-time domestic assault is a Class A misdemeanor. If prior convictions exist, the punishment is a third degree felony under Texas law.
Aggravated Domestic Assault
This charge applies for acts of serious bodily injury to a victim or using or exhibiting a deadly weapon while carrying out an assault or the threat of an assault.
“Serious bodily injury” involves more damage than a “bodily injury.” Examples include head injuries, broken bones, loss of limbs, or disfigurement.
A deadly weapon includes any object that can cause death to the victim. Examples include firearms, knives, and brass knuckles, but can also include items like baseball bats and rope depending on the circumstances.
A conviction will result in a second degree felony charge.
Continuous Violence against the Family
If a defendant commits two or more domestic assaults in the span of two months, this charge may apply. The charge can apply whether the previous crimes resulted in arrests or convictions, and it can apply for multiple victims. A conviction is a third degree felony.
Penalties for Domestic Violence Crimes in Texas
The penalties for convictions of any of these three crimes are harsh. Here is a breakdown.
Class A misdemeanor
Up to $4,000 in fines, up to one year in jail, or both
Third degree felony
Up to $10,000 in fines and a prison sentence of two to 10 years
Second degree felony
Up to $10,000 in fines and a prison sentence of two to 20 years
First degree felony
Up to $10,000 in fines and a prison sentence of five to 99 years
Restitution may be ordered in some cases. The restitution money will cover the victim’s medical expenses, counseling, or damaged property.
Some defendants may qualify for alternatives to incarceration. A guilty plea can result in deferred adjudication, which allows the defendant to serve a probation sentence while completing a treatment program, paying restitution, serving in the community, and committing no new crimes. This option is most likely to be available to first-time offenders of domestic assault with no aggravating factors.
Legal Assistance for Texas Domestic Violence Charges
The penalties for domestic violence crimes in Texas are significant. If convicted, you could face consequences for many years. It’s essential that you contact a skilled criminal defense attorney as soon as charges are filed against you. Call today for a free consultation.
About the Author:
Brandon Fulgham has an in-depth understanding of both Texas law and Texans themselves. Before practicing law here, he received his undergraduate degree from TCU, and his law degree from South Texas College of Law in Houston. After graduation, he worked in District Attorneys’ offices as a prosecutor, building cases designed to put people behind bars. Now, he uses that knowledge to protect the rights of people in and around Fort Worth, making sure they receive the strongest possible defense when they find themselves on the wrong side of the law. He has been recognized for his work by The National Trial Lawyers, Fort Worth Magazine, and others.