In Texas, the law classifies a violent act as domestic violence when it’s committed against another member of the household, a member of the family (by blood, adoption, or marriage), or someone the offender is dating (or dated in the past). This can include violence against a spouse or former spouse, child of a spouse or former spouse, someone with whom the offender has children, a foster child, or the offender’s foster parent.
There are three different crimes of domestic violence in Texas: domestic assault, aggravated domestic assault, and continuous violence against the family.
Domestic assault involves one or more of these things:
- Intentionally or recklessly causing physical harm
- Intentionally threatening someone with physical harm
- Intentionally touching the victim in a way that the offender should reasonably know the victim would find offensive or provocative
If the offender has no priors, domestic assault is a Class A misdemeanor. But if he or she has any prior domestic assault convictions, it’s a third-degree felony.
Aggravated Domestic Assault
This refers to intentionally or recklessly causing serious physical harm to someone else, or the use or display of a deadly weapon while committing an assault crime. This includes threatening the other person with bodily injury or conducting oneself in a manner that the victim would find offensive.
Aggravated domestic assault is classified as a first-degree felony if a deadly weapon is involved and serious bodily harm is caused to the victim. (Serious bodily injury refers to an injury that typically requires hospitalization or surgery, such as broken bones, serious head injuries, or disfigurements.) Any other form of crime is a second-degree felony.
Continuous Violence Against the Family
If a person has committed two domestic assaults in the past year, he or she can be convicted of continuous violence against the family–a third-degree felony. The previous assaults need not have resulted in conviction or arrest, and they may be committed against different victims.
Punishments for Domestic Violence in Texas
- Class A misdemeanor – up to 12 months in jail, a fine of up to $4,000, or both
- Third-degree felony – 2-10 years in prison and a fine up to $10,000
- Second-degree felony – 2-20 years in prison and a fine up to $10,000
- First-degree felony – 5-99 years in prison and a fine up to $10,000
A criminal conviction becomes part of your permanent criminal record–even if it’s a misdemeanor. Having this charge on your record can seriously impact your life, your job prospects, your educational future, and can limit your rights as an American citizen. That’s why it’s important to hire a domestic violence lawyer when you’re facing a charge.