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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 Individual.

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 a household.

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.

Aggravated Assault

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.