Texas law does not provide for a separate criminal offense of “domestic violence,” as is the case in some states. Instead, a crime becomes an act of domestic or family violence when the parties are certain family or household members, including individuals who live together, share a child, currently date or who dated in the past, and close family members.
One of the most common criminal offenses associated with domestic violence is assault, as defined by Tex. Pen. Code § 22.01. Assault occurs when an individuals intentionally, knowingly, or recklessly causes injury to another, intentionally or knowingly threatens another with imminent bodily injury, or intentionally or knowingly cause physical contact that they reasonably should know or believe would be offensive to another.
Assault is typically a Class A misdemeanor, but it may be charged as a third-degree felony if an individual has a prior domestic assault conviction or if the offense involves choking, strangling, or otherwise impeding the breathing of another. If both of these factors apply, then the charge increases to a second-degree felony.
A Class A misdemeanor can result in a jail sentence of up to one year and a maximum $4,000 fine. A third-degree felony conviction has the potential for a prison sentence ranging from two to ten years, along with a maximum $10,000 fine. A second-degree felony can carry a potential penalty of up to 20 years in prison.
Another common domestic violence offense is continuous violence against the family, as found in Tex. Pen. Code § 25.11. Under this section, continuous violence against the family occurs when an individual commits an assault against a family or household member two or more times during a 12-month period. This offense is a third-degree felony.
Texas law also establishes the offense of family violence under Tex. Fam. Code §71.004, which includes child abuse and dating violence, among other acts. Family violence occurs when an individual takes any action toward family or household members that results in physical harm, assault, or sexual assault. This offense also may occur when an individual makes a threat against family or household members that reasonably places them in fear of imminent physical harm, assault, or sexual assault.
If you are facing domestic violence or any other type of criminal charges, you should consult with an experienced criminal defense attorney who can ensure that you raise all of the relevant defenses. At Peek & Toland, we are dedicated to protecting your rights and defending you against any criminal charges that you may be facing. We are here to investigate the facts surrounding your case, consider your options, and help you develop the strategy that is best designed to achieve a successful outcome in your case. Do not waste time attempting to handle legal matters on your own; contact our office as soon as you are charged with a criminal offense so that we can provide you with the help that we need.