Within Texas state law, there are many different crimes that fall under the umbrella of domestic violence. Commonly-used terms are domestic violence or domestic abuse, but the Texas Penal Code refers to these actions as family violence crimes. Generally speaking, these crimes include assault, continuous family violence, or a violation of a protective order. The severity of these offenses ranges from misdemeanors to felonies.
Any act of violence that is made against a member of the family, a household member, or even someone the assailant is or was dating is considered domestic violence. People affected by domestic violence are most often spouses, partners, children of the spouse or partner, someone the accused has dated or is currently dating.
Misdemeanor domestic violence crimes in Texas include the following situations, per the Texas Penal Code Sec. 22.01 :
Provocative or offensive contact means that the victim may not be hurt, but still feels violated. This may also include intentional invasion of personal space or inappropriate touching.
In Texas, domestic violence assaults are usually classified as Class A misdemeanors if there have been no prior convictions for the defendant.
If the defendant has one prior conviction for family violence, the crime is classified as a third-degree felony. If choking or strangulation was part of the conduct of the crime committed, the defendant would be charged with a third-degree felony. If both a previous conviction as well as strangulation were alleged, a second-degree felony classification will result.
When being charged with domestic assault, intent is not factored into whether someone is guilty or not. What this means is that even if you acted recklessly but had no intent on harming another person, you can still be charged with domestic assault. For example, if you were running through your house and accidentally knocked over your spouse or partner, they could technically bring a case against you for domestic assault.
You can be charged with aggravated domestic assault if the crime of aggravated assault was committed against a family member, spouse, or partner.
Texas Penal Code Sec. 22.02 classifies aggravated assault as the following:
A first-degree felony would result from any act of aggravated assault where a deadly weapon (an object capable of causing serious injury or death, such as a baseball bat, knife, gun, brass knuckles, bricks, etc.) has caused serious bodily injury to the victim. One could argue that a vehicle is also considered a deadly weapon.
If you’ve committed two or more acts of domestic assault within the last 12-month period, it is considered continuous violence against the family, and you may be arrested and convicted even if a previous assault didn’t result in an arrest or conviction. Continuous violence is classified as a third-degree felony in Texas.
If you’re under a civil protective order, and you violate that order, you may face criminal charges. You may also face criminal charges if you’ve violated a condition of bond where a no-contact order has been ordered. A first offense is classified as a class A misdemeanor but is upgraded to a third-degree felony if you have two or more convictions of either violating a protective order or violating a bond condition or if the violation is related to an assault or stalking charge.
The following punishments apply to domestic violence crimes in Texas:
In addition to the above consequences, being proven guilty of family violence prevents you from ever being able to possess or own a firearm of any kind. You will also have to pay restitution to the injured party for any expenses resulting from the assault such as medical expenses, emotional counseling, and repair or replacement of damaged personal property.
If the accused pleads guilty to the crime of domestic assault, the court may grant what is known as deferred adjudication probation. There is no conviction, however, the defendant must comply with all probation conditions as well as other conditions such as not getting arrested, volunteer service, counseling and treatment, and paying restitution. If the defendant meets these requirements, their domestic violence case may be dismissed altogether. The conviction will remain on their criminal record, but no sentence will be served. Still, a criminal record is discoverable by anyone who performs a criminal history search, and this may have far-reaching consequences in terms of employment, business relationships, and personal relationships.
If a deferred adjudication is granted and the defendant does not comply with the requirements of the court, they will be sentenced, convicted, and jail time will be served.
As you can see, the laws regarding domestic violence in Texas can be complicated. If you have been charged with domestic violence in the Dallas area, contact the Law Offices of RJ Harber to schedule a confidential consultation. Mr. Harber and his team are well-versed in Texas domestic violence laws and can defend your case using the knowledge gained from many years of experience with clients just like you. Contact the Law Offices of RJ Harber today at (214) 389-1189 or through this contact page.