Assault on a Family Member
An argument between family members or domestic partners can quickly escalate from a heated verbal exchange into a 911 call and an accusation of an assault on a family member or domestic violence. Law enforcement agencies and prosecutors in Texas take such allegations seriously, so a call to the police usual means that someone ends up being arrested.
Who are Considered Family Members in Texas?
Domestic violence laws in Texas include spouses, domestic partners, members of the same household, former partners and people involved in a relationship as family members. The parents of a child are considered family members even if they do not live together.
What is Assault on a Family Member?
Assault on a family member or domestic violence under the Texas Penal Code is the equivalent of a simple assault except that it involves family members. The elements of a simple assault include the following:
- Causing bodily injury to another person intentionally, recklessly or knowingly
- Threatening another person with imminent bodily injury knowingly or intentionally
- Offensive or provocative physical contact with another person that is done knowingly or intentionally
An assault committed with a deadly weapon or involves serious physical injury is the more serious offense of aggravated assault. Aggravated assault is a felony while a simple assault without other factors is a misdemeanor.
Consequences of Assault on a Family Member or Domestic Violence
Assault on a family member in Texas is a misdemeanor that can result in any of the following penalties being imposed by a judge:
- Incarceration in jail for up to one year
- Fines up to $4,000
- Probation supervision
- Anger management or family violence classes
- A protective order prohibiting the offender from contacting or being near the victim
An offender with a prior domestic violence conviction could be charged with a felony and face up to 10 years in prison and a fine up to $10,000. Aggravated assault on a family member is also a felony punishable by a prison sentence not to exceed 20 years and a fine up to $10,000.
How a Houston Domestic Violence Attorney Can Help
After an assault on a family member domestic violence charge is filed by the police or prosecutors, a person should contact a criminal defense attorney for representation. Texas prosecutors have a policy of not allowing domestic violence victims to drop charges once an arrest has been made.
Because of the “no-drop” policy, and the fact that domestic violence conviction records cannot be sealed as can other criminal records in Texas, it is important to have experienced legal counsel to defend against charges that frequently are based solely on statements made by the victim to the police.