In Texas, family violence refers to violence that happens between intimate partners, married couples, family members, or members within a household—even if they don’t currently live together.
As well as physical assault, threats of imminent bodily injury can be charged with family violence. Keep reading to learn more about family violence in the Texas penal code, and the penalties and consequences of an assault conviction.
Domestic Assault / Family Violence in the Texas Penal Code
Domestic violence is categorized as family violence in Texas law. In the Texas penal code, it is described as:
- An act by a member of a family or household against another family or household member that is intended to cause physical harm, bodily injury, assault, or sexual assault
- A threat that places the victim in fear of imminent physical harm, bodily harm, assault, or sexual assault, but does not include defensive measures to protect oneself
- Abuse of a child by a family or household member
- Dating violence
To clarify: In Texas, family violence laws not only apply to incidents that involve people who currently live together, but also those who have previously lived in the same household, whether they are related to each other or not.
Penalties for Domestic Assault – Family Violence in Texas
Courts in Texas are tough on family violence because it unfortunately often leads to death. However, some people make a one-time mistake and go on to learn from it. For them, the consequences of that one-time mistake can still be disastrous.
Assault on a Family Member
Assuming there are no aggravating factors, assault on a family member—or assault bodily injury against a family member—may result in a Class A misdemeanor.
Penalties for a Class A misdemeanor include:
- Up to 1 year in jail
- Up to a $4,000 fine
Furthermore, if the act was committed by a man against a woman, it will be considered a crime of moral turpitude. This can be used against you in court in the future for unrelated proceedings and will come up as a red flag in record checks.
Continuous Violence Against the Family
If the defendant has committed assault against a family member more than once within a 12-month period, they could be charged with continuous family violence, which will enhance the assault charges from a Class A misdemeanor to a third-degree felony.
It’s important to note that it doesn’t matter whether or not the original assault/s led to a charge. It also doesn’t matter if the separate assault incidents were targeted toward the same victim, or different family members—it will still lead to continuous family violence.
Penalties for a third-degree felony include:
- Jail sentence lasting between 2 and 10 years
- A fine of up to $10,000
Furthermore, the collateral damages of a third-degree felony are life-changing. These can include the loss of your right to vote, a ban on owning firearms, barriers to certain professions, and even barriers to accessing loans.
Aggravated Assault on a Family Member
Aggravated assault is defined in the Texas penal code as the following:
- Causes serious bodily injury
- Uses or displays a deadly weapon during the assault
Usually, aggravated assault on its own would be a felony of the second degree. However, the Family Code enhances the charges to a felony of the first degree.
First-degree felonies are the second most serious offense in Texas, and the punishments match in severity.
Penalties for a felony of the first degree include:
- Between 5 and 99 years in prison
- Up to $10,000 in fines
Prior convictions can raise the minimum jail time from 5 years to 15 years. Furthermore, aggravated sex offenses can lead to a life sentence.
Specific Laws for Certain Family Violence Situations
Family violence includes any of the following relationships:
- Past and current spouses
- Past and current dating partners
- Past and current roommates or co-residents
- Parents and children
- Foster parents and children
- Parent of a child not in the same household
- Relatives (by blood, marriage, or adoption)
In addition to assault and aggravated assault, family violence crimes can also include child abuse involving a family or household member, and sexual assault.
Where children are involved, penalties can rise significantly in severity. The best thing you can do if you are being accused of violence against a family member is to contact a defense lawyer you can trust.
Domestic Assault Family Violence Charges on Your Record in Texas
Unless you are acquitted of family violence charges, pardoned, or the court doesn’t convict or order you to do community supervision, family violence charges will stay on your record permanently, and they cannot be expunged.
This holds true even if you are charged with a misdemeanor and not a felony. If that’s not bad enough, family violence offenses are considered crimes of moral turpitude.
The best way to keep your record clear is to have the case dismissed, or if you receive a not-guilty verdict, and to do that you need to contact a lawyer with a history of successful cases.
The Consequences of a Domestic Assault Family Violence Conviction
Being convicted of domestic assault in Texas can lead to the loss of thousands of dollars, and many years behind bars, but that’s just the beginning.
The long-term collateral damage of a family violence conviction can devastate lives. Here are a few examples of what family violence convicts struggle with:
A conviction like family violence will appear on background checks, which employers like to do before getting a work contract signed. There’s no way to hide a family violence record, so convicts find it increasingly difficult to get back into employment.
If you had any kind of professional license before the conviction, you’ll likely lose it afterward. A conviction also makes it impossible to try to get a professional license.
Careers that require working with vulnerable people, women, or children will be made unavailable to you.
Having a felony on your record can stop you from getting student loans, and many colleges may be dubious about admitting someone who has been convicted of assault charges. If you are planning to apply for college and you do have convictions, however, honesty is the best policy.
Lying about your criminal record will only put you in a worse situation.
Loss of the Rights to Firearms
If you have been convicted of a family assault charge, it’s very possible that you will lose your right to own firearms.
Loss of Your Home
If you live with the person whom you have allegedly assaulted, the court may decide that you need to leave the house. The ensuing court proceedings, and a conviction, will make it difficult to find a new home.
Family violence convictions will show up on background checks, which landlords will undoubtedly conduct before letting you sign a lease agreement.
Loss of Reputation and Status
Aside from all the collateral and direct damage of a family violence conviction, these situations turn entire lives upside down. Convicts will lose reputations amongst friends, relatives, and colleagues.
A conviction can lead to a person losing their job, too, leaving them feeling completely isolated.
It’s easy for someone in this situation to give in to anxiety and depression, especially if they feel they have no one to talk to.
At Michael & Associates, we want you to know that we are here to listen and to work with you for the best outcome possible. You don’t have to do this alone.
The Best Strategy if Charged with Domestic Assault Family Violence in Texas
Not everyone who is accused of family violence is guilty. False accusations do happen, but so do one-time mistakes in the middle of heated arguments. If you’ve been accused of family violence, the best thing you can do is call an experienced defense lawyer immediately. Preferably one that specializes in family violence.
Family violence and domestic assault in Texas are taken extremely seriously. Don’t leave your future up to fate. At Michael & Associates, we have dealt with thousands of criminal defense cases, and we can help you with yours.
We know how important this is, though. That’s why we offer a free case review, so you can decide what to do afterward.
Whatever you do, don’t delay! The sooner you get working on a defense strategy, the better your chances are for a good outcome. Get your free case review today with Michael & Associates.
Ben has vast experience in defending criminal cases ranging from DWIs to assault, drug possession, and many more. He has countless criminal charges dismissed and pled down. Among many other awards, one of the Top 10 Criminal Defense Attorneys in Texas and winner of Top 40 under 40.