In the state of Texas, any use of force, that threatens or causes bodily harm, in a domestic situation is considered domestic violence. The use of force must be intentional, and it must be performed knowingly. However, domestic abuse laws do not solely apply to a spouse. Any domestic partner can be considered a victim under these laws, including:
● Your spouse or former spouse
● A person whom you are currently or were previously in a romantic relationship with
● The other parent of your child
● Your child or foster child
● Another member of your family by blood, marriage, or adoption
Domestic violence is broken down into three different crimes in Texas: domestic assault, aggravated domestic assault, and continuous violence against the family.
Domestic Assault Charges
If you are being charged with domestic assault, it can mean one of three things
1. You intentionally and knowingly caused bodily injury or you recklessly caused bodily injury.
2. You intentionally and knowingly threatened to cause bodily injury.
3. You intentionally and knowingly caused physical contact that can reasonably be construed as offensive.
If you do not have any prior domestic assault convictions on your record, you may be charged with a Class A Misdemeanor. However, if you do have prior convictions, you can expect to be charged with a third-degree felony.
Aggravated Domestic Assault
If you are being charged with aggravated domestic assault, it likely means one of two things
1. You intentionally and knowingly caused serious bodily injury or you recklessly caused serious bodily injury.
2. You used a deadly weapon to intentionally and knowingly assault, threaten to assault or cause physical contact that can be construed as offensive.
Causing serious bodily harm without a weapon is generally considered a second-degree felony. However, if a weapon is used to commit aggravated domestic assault, it will be charged as a first-degree felony.
Continuous Violence Against the Family
The charge of continuous violence against the family, a third-degree felony, can be given if you are charged with domestic assault twice in a twelve-month period. You do not have to be convicted of either of the two assaults to receive this charge, and the assaults do not have to be against the same victim.
Defending Against Domestic Assault Charges
There are four main defenses that your domestic violence attorney may choose to use on your behalf. They include claiming the assault was unintentional, that you did not have knowledge that you were committing the assault, that you committed the assault as a form of self-defense, or that no assault occurred at all.
Penalties of Domestic Assault Convictions
It is necessary to have an experienced attorney, represent you in these types of cases because these convictions can come with some very steep penalties. Depending on your particular charges, you can face anywhere from a short term sentence in the county jail or a 99-year sentence in the state prison. Plus, fines can range up to $10,000.