Heated arguments can sometimes occur with people you live with, whether they’re family or not. Money issues, stress, and simply being around someone so often can lead to an increase in irritation that boils over into an argument where the police are called.
Going too far in these arguments comes with real-world consequences, though, especially if you are convicted of domestic assault. Add in the fact that Texas has recently made some changes to the procedures regarding the nature of the relationship between the defendant and the victim, and you could find yourself in some serious legal trouble.
Here’s what you need to know about domestic assault in Texas and how these new laws could impact your case.
Texas Domestic Assault
Family violence in Texas is governed by the Texas assault statutes. For cases involving violence between family members, those that live in the same household, and those in a romantic relationship, there can be additional restrictions or penalties when the case goes to court.
In Texas, simple assault is characterized as intentionally, recklessly, or knowingly causing harm to another, threatening another with bodily harm, or making physical contact with another person that they would find offensive or provocative.
Aggravated assault can be charged if simple assault is committed and there is serious bodily injury or a deadly weapon was used or shown to the victim during the commission of the crime.
Assault with Family or Household Members in Texas
The relationship between the people involved in the case can also increase the charges. For example, it can raise what would have been a misdemeanor charge to a felony, or raise felony charges to a more severe felony.
In Texas, family violence is defined as violence between those related by affinity (such as marriage) or blood, including:
- Parents of a child
- Former spouse’s children
- Foster children
- Adopted children
- Foster parents
- Uncles and Aunts
Texas family code also includes people who live in the same dwelling, whether they are related or not, as well as any person who lived in the household previously.
Changes with Senate Bill 2136
This recently passed bill from the Texas State Senate changes the type of evidence that can be introduced into a case when the defendant and victim are related, or considered related under the domestic assault laws, such as people who have shared a dwelling but are not related.
In effect, the court is now allowed to consider the nature of the relationship between the defendant and the victims as evidence to help paint a bigger picture of the cause behind the alleged crime. Previously, this law only applied in cases of domestic violence. Now, each party in criminal cases can submit this type of evidence.
Texas Penalties for Assault
Additionally, the new law can increase the penalty for committing assault. For example, in Texas, simple assault is considered a Class A misdemeanor, but committing assault against a family member or someone in the household is a felony in the third degree.
A Class A misdemeanor can be punished by as much as one year in jail and fines of $1,000. A conviction for third-degree felony assault is punishable by as much as 10 years in prison and fines of $10,000.
As you can see, allowing evidence to be entered in regard to the nature of the relationship between victim and alleged perpetrator in an assault case can have a big impact on the outcome. That’s why we work hard to make sure you’re up to date on the latest changes to the law and how you might be affected.
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. He has been recognized for his work by Expertise (Best Criminal Defense Lawyers in Forth Worth and Best DUI Lawyers in Fort Worth, both 2020), The National Trial Lawyers, Fort Worth Magazine, and others.