April 26, 2018
If you are facing charges of domestic violence in Texas, learning more about the laws and potential penalties can help you understand how to get the best chance at a positive outcome.
Domestic Violence and Relationships
In order for something to qualify as an act of domestic violence, there must be an intimate relationship between the offender and the victim.
Examples include the following:
- Person related by blood or marriage
- Spouse or former spouse
- Dating partner or former dating partner
- Parent of the offender’s children
- Foster parents
- Foster children
- Members of the same household
A skilled Texas criminal attorney will be able to explain how charges apply in your situation.
Types of Texas Domestic Violence
Domestic violence crimes in Texas are categorized in three ways:
- Physical contact that another person perceives as offensive or provocative
- Threats to cause bodily harm
- Use of force that results in bodily injury
Note that injury does not need to occur for a charge to apply. For example, if you poke, push, shove, or even merely invade another person’s space during an argument, the person may be able to file charges of domestic violence against you. Even if you did not mean the behavior to be offensive, the alleged victim can still file charges if they perceived the behavior as offensive.
Acts of domestic violence must be carried out intentionally, knowingly, or recklessly for charges to apply. A reckless act is unintentional but results in injury. An example of recklessness is pushing your child out of your way, but the child falls and breaks her arm.
How Texas Defines Aggravated Domestic Violence Charges
If serious bodily injury occurs in an act of domestic violence, aggravated assault charges may apply. Serious bodily injury includes the following examples:
- Broken bones
- Significant head injuries, such as a concussion
- Permanent disfigurement
- Loss of a limb
- Any injury requiring surgery or hospitalization
If a deadly weapon was used in the commission of the act of domestic violence, aggravated charges will apply. Deadly weapons include knives, brass knuckles, and firearms, but they can also refer to items like baseball bats, chairs, or ropes, depending on the circumstances.
Penalties for Domestic Violence
The penalties for a domestic violence conviction depend on the relationship of the offender and the victim. For example, higher penalties may be given for the same act committed against a spouse as compared to a roommate. If the act included choking, strangulation, or suffocation, stiffer penalties will apply. You can also expect higher penalties if you have a previous conviction for domestic violence.
Here are the penalties broken down by charge:
Class A misdemeanor
Up to one year in jail, up to $4,000 in fines, or both
Third degree felony
Between two and 10 years in prison and up to $10,000 in fines
Applies to offenders with two domestic assault acts within 12 months in any relationship
Second degree felony
Between two and 20 years in prison and up to $10,000 in fines
Applies to cases of serious bodily injury
First degree felony
Between five and 99 years in prison and up to $10,000 in fines
Applies to cases where a deadly weapon was used and serious bodily injury occurred
Texans Need to Get Legal Help
To fight your charges with the strongest possible defense, you need to reach out to an experienced Texas criminal defense attorney. We will help you build a solid defense to protect your rights. Call for a free consultation today.
About the Author:
The strength of Brian S. Eppes as a lawyer is in his unique and varied background. Like many other private attorneys, at one point he worked as a prosecutor. However, he also served in George W. Bush’s White House, has helped Texas legislators to write laws, and spent time at a tax and estate planning firm. These experiences have enabled him to look at cases in a different way than his peers and find creative solutions that benefit his clients.