Family violence, also known as domestic violence, is a common criminal offense in Texas. Unfortunately, many people facing family violence charges are falsely accused of the crime.
Being accused of a crime you did not commit can be intimidating and frustrating. Many people charged with this criminal offense wonder, “Is family violence a felony or misdemeanor in Texas?”
Read on to find out what you can expect if you have been charged with family violence in Texas. Do not hesitate to contact a Williamson County criminal defense lawyer to help you fight against family violence charges.
How Does Texas Penal Code Define Family Violence?
Under Texas Penal Code § 71.004, family violence is defined as an act committed by one member of the family or household against another member of the same family/household with the intent to cause:
- Bodily injury
- Physical harm
- Sexual assault
Additionally, a member of a family or household can face family violence charges if they threaten another member, and their threats reasonably cause fear of imminent serious harm, bodily injury, or sexual assault.
However, a family or household member will not be charged with domestic violence if they intended to cause bodily injury or physical harm to another member in the act of self-defense.
Is Family Violence a Felony or Misdemeanor in Texas?
In Texas, a criminal charge of family violence can be classified as either a misdemeanor or felony. Regardless of whether family violence is a felony or misdemeanor, you can face the following penalties:
- Jail sentence
- Loss of the right to carry a firearm
Another thing worth mentioning is that a family violence conviction is not eligible for expungement in Texas. In other words, even if you complete your sentence after a conviction for family violence, the conviction will remain on your criminal record forever.
Different Types of Family Violence in Texas
Texas law recognizes three different types of family violence:
- Domestic violence (assault)
- Aggravated domestic violence (assault)
- Continuous violence against the family
Contrary to popular belief, you can face criminal charges for domestic violence even when violence is committed against a person other than your spouse or romantic partner. For example, if you assault your roommate after a verbal dispute, you can be charged with domestic violence because the roommate is a member of your household.
Domestic Violence (Assault) is a Misdemeanor or Felony
Texas Penal Code does not have a specific statute for domestic violence. However, a person accused of domestic violence can be charged under the assault statutes.
Under Texas Penal Code § 22.01, you can face assault charges for committing violence against a person when you intentionally or knowingly:
- Inflict bodily injury;
- Threaten a victim with imminent bodily injury; or
- Cause physical contact that you reasonably know would be regarded as provocative or offensive.
You can face domestic assault charges when the victim is a member of your household or family, including but not limited to your:
- Romantic partner
If it is your first conviction for domestic assault, you will face a Class A misdemeanor, punishable by up to:
- One year in jail
- $4,000 fine
The crime can be elevated to a third-degree felony if you have prior convictions for domestic assault. In that case, the potential penalties will include up to 10 years in prison and a maximum fine of $10,000.
Aggravated Domestic Assault is a Second-Degree Felony
In Texas, simple assault charges can be elevated to aggravated assault when the defendant:
- Inflicts serious bodily injury, including disfigurement and broken bones
- Uses or exhibits a deadly weapon, including a knife or firearm (a baseball bat may also count as a deadly weapon depending on the circumstances of the assault)
Aggravated domestic assault is a second-degree charge in Texas, which carries up to 20 years in prison and no more than $10,000 in fines.
Continuous Violence Against the Family is a Third-Degree Felony
Texas Penal Code has a specific statute for continuous violence against the family. Under Texas Penal Code § 25.11, you can be convicted of this crime if you commit at least two assaults against a member of your family or household within 12 months.
The continuous violence against the family charges apply even if your past charges for domestic violence did not lead to a conviction. In addition, the two assaults within a 12-month period do not necessarily have to be committed against one person.
The crime is a third-degree felony, which means you can be sentenced to up to a year in jail and ordered to pay a maximum fine of $4,000.
What to Do if You Are Accused of Family Violence in Texas?
You should take any accusations of family violence seriously, even if you know that they are false. Texas courts do not tolerate any form of domestic violence, which is evident from the harsh penalties imposed on those convicted of family violence in the state.
A conviction can have a devastating impact on your life even after you have served your sentence. That is because family violence is one of few crimes that cannot be expunged from your criminal record in Texas.
That is why it is critical to speak with a criminal defense lawyer the moment you become aware of accusations or charges filed against you.
Talk to a Lawyer Today
If you are being accused of family violence, you need a skilled criminal defense lawyer to protect your dignity, rights, and freedom. No matter how absurd the accusations may seem, you should contact an attorney as soon as possible.
At The Law Office of Brett H. Pritchard, our knowledgeable criminal lawyers have decades of experience representing people facing domestic violence charges in Williamson County and across Texas.
We understand how intimidating it can be to face criminal charges. That is why we are committed to protecting your rights every step of the way to achieve the best possible outcome in your case. Consult with our criminal attorneys by calling 254-501-4040.