According to statistics, close to 20 people are physically abused by a spouse or partner every minute across the United States. This accounts for a staggering 10 million people each year in the United States alone.
While some domestic assault charges are far more severe than others, Texas carries a wide definition of what classifies as domestic assault.
If you find yourself charged with a domestic violence crime, here’s what you should know about the penalties you could face…
Defining Domestic Assault Charges
The state of Texas recognizes three primary categories of domestic violence. This includes domestic assault, aggravated domestic assault, and continuous violence against a family.
More-often-than-not, people assume that domestic violence takes place between lovers, partners or spouses. When in actual fact, a domestic violence charge is valid if the victim is:
- A member of the family
- A partner with whom the alleged offender has children
- A member of the offender’s household
- A foster child or foster parent of the offender
- Any family member by blood or adoption
- Someone who lives with the offender in the same home
- A child of a spouse or former spouse
In Texas, there are three distinct domestic violence charges, each with their own set of fines, sentences, and consequences. These charges include:
- Recklessness- intentionally and recklessly causing harm to another individual
- Threat- intentionally threatening to cause harm to a person
- Physical contact- intentionally physically contacting another person in order to cause offense under the Texas Penal Code Ann. §22.01.
Not all charges are classed as criminal, but let’s take a closer look at the definition of a felony.
When Domestic Assault is Classed as a Felony
When you are charged with a felony, this means your actions are classed as criminal under Texas state law. Most of the time, a felony charge relates to previous domestic assault convictions.
For example, if an offender has one prior assault charge, they will be charged with a third-degree felony for the next offense. Offenses which fall into the third-degree felony category include chocking and strangulation. However, if the offender carries a previous assault charge, this is then elevated to a second-degree felony.
Aggravated assault is usually charged as a second-degree felony, especially if the victim(s) is a direct family member. If the offender uses a weapon or causes serious injury, this is charged as a first-degree felony.
If a person is charged with two cases of domestic violence in the space of 12-months, they are then charged with continuous violence against a family.
Bear in mind that the violation of a protective order, such as restraining order, is also classed as a case of domestic assault in the state of Texas.
Domestic Assualt Charges: What To Expect
When charged with a first-time misdemeanor you can generally avoid prison time. But you may face a hefty penalty fee owed to the victims of abuse.
Fines and sentencing vary depending on the severity and frequency of the domestic violence charge.
If you are charged with a Class C misdemeanor expect to face a fine of up to $500. A Class B misdemeanor carries with it incarceration in a state prison for up to 6-months and a fine of $2,000. A Class A misdemeanor carries with it a state prison sentence of 12-months and a hefty sum of $4,000 in damages.
On the other hand, when faced with a domestic assault felony, you could spend a much longer time behind bars.
A third-degree felony carries a minimum of 2 and maximum of 10-years in prison, as well as a fine of $10,000 or more. When charged with a second-degree felony you could face over a decade in prison. This includes a maximum sentence of 20-years and a fine of $10,000 or more.
A first-degree felony is for serious crimes such as severe domestic violence resulting in death or permanent injury. The maximum sentence you could face is up to 99-years in prison, and the minimum is 5-years. Add a $10,000 fine to this too.
No matter the domestic violence charge, you also face losing several rights in the state of Texas, most especially your right to carry a firearm.
In Need of a Criminal Defense Attorney?
Based in San Antonio, the law office of Roland J. Garcia is committed to providing thorough, reliable, and experienced defense litigation, no matter the crime.
Facing domestic assault charges? Contact our law offices today to schedule your defense!