Abuse and Assault Laws in Texas
Here in Texas, the crime of assault is taken very seriously. Despite a popular belief, a person does not have to engage in outright physical violence in order to be charged with an assault crime. In fact, threatening another person with serious bodily injury may be enough to lead to arrest and criminal charges of assault.
When instances of assault are directed towards a family member, things get more serious. A conviction for assault on a family member or domestic abuse in Texas can lead to very severe penalties.
These two criminal offenses can be closely related and it pays to know the severity of these crimes.
What Is Assault?
In short, assault is:
- Any action or behavior that injures another person
- A threat to injure another person
- Contact with another person in a way that will be perceived as threatening
For example, imagine that John meets David as they are walking down the street. If John punches David, he could be arrested and charged with assault.
If John runs at David and shouts in his face that he is going to beat him to a pulp, John could still be charged with assault.
Finally, if John intentionally collides with David and makes threatening gestures, he could face arrest and assault charges.
In general, citizens have the right to enjoy their privacy and freedom from harassment. Denying another person of their freedom from harassment can lead to criminal charges and a trip to the county jail, even if no punches were thrown.
What Is Domestic Abuse?
Standard assault becomes domestic abuse when it occurs within the context of a family. For example, a fight between strangers might be assault but a person who attacks their spouse, children or relatives might face charges of domestic assault.
If a person commits assault against:
- A spouse or former spouse
- Their own child
- Any family member
- A roommate
- A current or former member of their household
They may face charges of domestic assault. Physically attacking or threatening to attack or sexually abuse a family member could lead to charges of family violence in Texas.
Committing family violence or domestic assault could lead to Class A misdemeanor charges. A conviction could lead to:
- Up to one year in jail
- A fine of up to $4000
Additional convictions for domestic assault could enhance the penalty to a third degree felony.
Causing serious bodily injury to a family member could lead to charges of aggravated domestic assault. This can lead to:
- Conviction on a second degree felony charge
- Up to twenty years in state prison
- A fine of up to $10,000
No matter what the circumstances, cases of domestic assault or family violence are taken very seriously in Texas. In certain cases, parents may lose custody or visitation rights. They may also have to attend mandatory counseling or therapy sessions. Courts may use domestic violence convictions in divorce hearings. Even one conviction for domestic assault can have a lifetime of consequences.
There are a number of defenses that are possible in assault cases. A criminal defense attorney may be able to assist with the preparation of these defenses. For example, an attorney might argue that a defendant engaged in violence as a result of self defense.
If an attorney can produce witnesses or video evidence which shows that the defendant was only trying to protect himself, the assault charges might be dropped or reduced. Also, the attorney might try to argue that the defendant never engaged in assault and that the plaintiff is lying or exaggerating. With the right kind of evidence, the defendant might avoid a conviction altogether.
Being charged with any form of assault can be terrifying and intimidating. The legal is not easy to understand, so hire someone that knows how to protect your rights. The Law Office of Matthew D. Sharp has the experience to get you justice. Call his office today at (713) 868-6100.