A person who engages in violent behavior in Houston, Texas that is directed against a family member, a spouse, an ex-girlfriend, ex-boyfriend or a housemate may be charged with domestic violence. In the context of this offense, violent actions are those which fall under the legal definition of assault.
Assault is defined as intentionally, knowingly or recklessly causing bodily injury to another person, threatening another person with injury or making physical contact with another person in a way that is offensive or provocative.
The legal consequences for a domestic assault conviction in Houston are dependent on the type of violence that occurred. This crime is divided into three categories. They are as follows:
- Domestic Assault
- Aggravated Domestic Assault
- Continuous Violence against the Family
Domestic assault is any action that meets the requirements for an assault charge but is directed towards a family member, spouse, partner, ex-partner or housemate. It is a Class A misdemeanor that can be punished by one year in jail and a $4000 fine.
Aggravated domestic assault is defined by the type of injury that occurs. Serious bodily injury that results in hospitalization, surgery, broken bones, disfigurement or heavy bleeding is considered a violation of this crime. It is also defined as an assault that includes the use of a deadly weapon, such as a gun or knife. This charge can result in a first degree felony conviction, possibly leading to 99 years in prison and a $10,000 fine.
Continuous violence against the family charges may be filed if a person is charged with two or more domestic assault charges within a 12-month period. This is a third degree felony that can be punished by up to 10 years in prison.
A Texas attorney may be able to get a client’s domestic assault charge reduced by using a plea bargain. This may alter the sentence to exchange prison time for probation, community service and restitution. Some defendants may be eligible for deferred adjudication. This could result in the eventual expungement of the domestic assault charge from the defendant’s criminal record. The best way to make this happen is to hire a professional criminal defense attorney.