Texas domestic violence laws are very clear and it is very hard to commit a domestic violence crime here and live freely without facing the significant consequences put in place. Even if there is no specific domestic violence statute in Texas, the charges and penalties for any form of family/dating violence are well explained in the Texas assault statutes. Since a one-time mistake in a relationship may limit your future opportunities and ruin your life completely, you should avoid domestic violence at all costs in Texas. Otherwise, you’ll need to hire one of the best family violence lawyers in Texas you can find to fight what’ll be serious criminal charges.
This post will look at what the Texas law says about domestic violence, the special relationships covered under the domestic violence laws, the types of domestic crimes and associated penalties. Read till the end to also know what you are supposed to do when you are facing domestic violence charges in Texas.
Let’s start with the major classifications of relationships where the domestic crimes/assault types are based on.
Special relationships of domestic assault Texas
Family relationship: A family relationship covers all people bound together by blood or through marriage. They include spouses, children, parents, foster children/parents, grandchildren, siblings, cousins, etc.
Household relationship: This is a relation between people who live in the same dwelling or who previously lived in the same place. These two must have no blood relation.
Dating relationship: This involves a relationship between people who have dated in the past. A dating relationship must have had an intimate or romantic relationship. These types of relationships include boyfriend-girlfriend or ex-boyfriend- ex-girlfriend relations for those in marriages.
This said, we can now check out the recognized types of domestic violence crimes by Texas law.
External Resource: Texas Department of Public Safety – Family Violence
Types of domestic violence crimes Texas
This is the most common type of domestic violence crime that most people in relationships find themselves committing.
What is domestic assault?
A domestic assault is a threat or an act of violence against any person you are in an intimate relationship with. The person may be your current or past dating partner/spouse, the child of a current or past spouse, a household/family member, or even a roommate.
For the act to qualify to be an assault, it must be done knowingly, intentionally, or recklessly.
The Texas law is clear that an act of assault may also involve a bodily injury or some form of imminent bodily injury (immediate physical damage to one’s body). Even physical contact with a victim that the offender knows or is supposed to reasonably know is offensive to the victim is classified as an assault.
Under Texas law, a first-time domestic assault conviction falls under class A misdemeanor, while a recurring conviction for the same is categorized as a third degree felony.
Aggravated Domestic Assault
The term ‘aggravated’ means ‘more serious’ and thus, this type of domestic violence crime is more serious than just a normal domestic assault.
What exactly is aggravated domestic assault as per Texas law?
An aggravated domestic assault is an act of serious bodily injury to a person, usually involving a deadly weapon when issuing the assault threats or carrying out the assault itself. Note that a ‘deadly weapon’ is any item that can cause death to the victim, be it a firearm, knife, rope, etc.
Unlike a bodily injury discussed in the section above, a serious bodily injury will usually cause more harm to the victim and may include head injuries, loss of limbs, bone breakages and any other kinds of body deformations.
A conviction for this type of domestic violence crime will result in a second degree felony charge.
Continuous violence against the family
When a person commits domestic assaults twice in a period of 1 year in Texas, he/she is convicted of a crime of continuous violence against the involved family. This type of domestic violence crime is recognized by the law even if the assault was not directed to the same person.
The charge also applies whether the previous assaults resulted in convictions or just arrests.
A conviction for this type of crime is categorized as a third degree felony.
So what penalties apply for the above domestic violence crime convictions?
Penalties for People Convicted of Domestic Violence
Reference: Texas Penal Code
- Class A misdemeanor- Fines (up to $4,000.00), Jail term (1 year), or both
- Third degree felony- Fines (up to $10,000.00) prison sentence (2-10 years)
- Second degree felony- Fines (up to $10,000.00) prison sentence (2-20 years)
- First degree felony- Fines (up to $10,000.00) prison sentence (5-99 years)
- Other penalties- Restitution, where mainly money is ordered from the defendant to cover the victim’s medical expenses or any other type of damage caused.
The domestic violence laws in Texas are very clear and as you can see, they are quite tough; hence it would help if you stayed off the various types of domestic crimes that the Texas law recognizes. Still, if convicted, it would be best if you hired a good domestic violence lawyer in Houston right from when the charges are filed against you. Now that you know what the Texas laws say about domestic violence, you should stay harmoniously with the people you are closely related with to avoid conflicting the law and the significant consequences that apply.