ASSAULT AND FAMILY VIOLENCE LAWS IN TEXAS
As discussed below, assault convictions can have serious consequences.
With a proactive defense and mitigation approach, assault convictions
can often be avoided. The Law Office of Nathan Miller takes immediate
action in assault cases to remedy relationship and communication problems
between client, alleged victim, and sometimes an entire family. Our firm
works with a variety of counselors and other Denton County family resources
to help us present a more complete picture of our clients' background
and of the relationship dynamics that may have led to the arrest. If you
are accused of committing any type of assaultive offense, contact The
Law Office of Nathan Miller as soon as possible in order to explore your
options and prepare your defense.
LAW REGARDING ASSAULTIVE OFFENSES
The law regarding assaultive offenses in Texas can be found in Chapter
22 of the Texas Penal Code. Common assault charges are Class C misdemeanor
Assault, Class A misdemeanor Assault, Assault on a Peace Officer (third
degree felony), Aggravated Assault Causing Serious Bodily Injury, and
Aggravated Assault with a Deadly Weapon. Assaultive offenses against people
in protected classes can be found in Texas Penal Code Section 22.04 such
as Injury to a Child, Injury to an Elderly Individual or Injury to a Disabled
I. Assault Family Violence
The single most common assault charge prosecuted in Denton County, Texas
is a variation of Class A Assault called Assault Causing Bodily Injury
-Family Violence. Misdemeanor assaults can be charged as Family Violence
cases pursuant to Texas Family Code Section 71.003 when certain relationships
exist between the defendant and the alleged victim. For example; if the
alleged victim is related by blood or affinity to the defendant, if the
alleged victim and the defendant are former spouses, if the alleged victim
and the defendant are parents of the same child, if there is a foster
child and parent relationship between the alleged victim and the defendant,
if there is or has been a dating relationship between the alleged victim
and the defendant, and if the alleged victim and the defendant have shared
Although Family Violence cases are usually charged as Class A misdemeanors,
the affirmative finding that Family Violence did occur has very serious
consequences. Non-citizens convicted of Assault Family Violence can be
denied Lawful Permanent Resident Status or be deported. Family violence
convictions can cause individuals to lose professional licenses and can
prevent skilled tradesmen from being bonded. Under federal law, a person
convicted of Assault Family Violence in a Texas state court cannot possess
a firearm for the rest of his or her life. If a person is charged a second
time with Assault Family Violence after having been convicted or having
received deferred adjudication on an initial Class A Family Violence charge,
the offense can be charged as a third degree felony.
Fortunately, there are defenses to charges of Assault Family Violence.
Often there is little or no physical evidence in Assault Family Violence
cases. If the case is not dismissed before trial, the credibility of the
accuser can often be effectively challenged at trial. Also Chapters 8
and 9 of the Texas Penal Code deal with justifications and defenses to
criminal charges, and additionally, there are other defenses recognized
in case law. The most common defense available in assault cases is the
defense of "self-defense."
II. Other Information Regarding Assaultive Offenses
Class C Misdemeanor Assault
A person commits a Class C misdemeanor assault if he or she "intentionally
or knowingly cause physical contact with another when the person knows
or should reasonably believe that the other will regard the contact as
offensive or provocative." Texas Penal Code Section 22.01(a)(3).
Class A Misdemeanor Assault
A person commits a Class A misdemeanor assault if he or she intentionally,
knowingly or recklessly caused "bodily injury" to the complainant.
Texas Penal Code Section 22.01(a)(1). Many people mistakenly believe that
they will not be convicted in cases where there are no bones broken, blood,
scratches, bruises, or red marks. But the Texas Penal Code defines "bodily
injury" very broadly to mean any "physical pain, illness, or
any impairment of physical condition. This means that at trial, the prosecutor
has to only prove that the alleged victim experienced pain. The same assault
offense elements apply in cases where it is a police officer who is assaulted,
but because the alleged victim is a public servant, those cases are often
charged as a third degree felony Assault on a Public Servant.
The offenses of Aggravated Assault Causing Serious Bodily Injury and Aggravated
Assault With a Deadly Weapon are set forth in Texas Penal Code Section
22.02 and are usually charged as second degree felonies.
A person commits the offense of Aggravated Assault Causing Serious Bodily
Injury if he or she commits an assault that causes "serious bodily
injury" which is a legal term defined as bodily injury that creates
a substantial risk of death or that causes death, serious permanent disfigurement,
or protracted loss or impairment of the function of any bodily member or organ.
A person commits the office of Aggravated Assault with a Deadly Weapon
if he or she uses or exhibits a deadly weapon during the commission of
an assault. "Deadly weapon" means a firearm or anything manifestly
designed, made, or adapted for the purpose of inflicting death or serious
bodily injury, or anything that in the manner of its use or intended use
is capable of causing death or serious bodily injury.
Injury to a Child, to an Elderly Person or to a Disabled Person
Charges of Injury to a Child, Injury to an Elderly Individual, or Injury
to a Disabled Person are felonies, although the degree of felony depends
upon the actor's level of intent and the extent of injury to the alleged victim.
If you are in need of an attorney for an assault case, contact The Law
Office of Nathan Miller to
schedule a consultation.