If you’re facing assault charges, you need to know what sort of charges you might be facing and what punishments these can carry with them. Felony Assault on a family member cases are especially serious and can carry very heavy penalties.
Below is some information you need to know if you’re facing an assault on a family member charge. Please note that this is not a replacement for legal counsel, merely an informative article.
Felony assault is a crime where the defendant attempts to commit some sort of violence against a victim. The defendant may use a deadly weapon, attempt to cause serious bodily harm or engage in sexual activity with a minor. This violence must be intentionally, knowingly, or recklessly caused; if you drop a kitchen knife on accident and it stabs your wife in the foot, that isn’t felony assault.
In Texas, felony assault can be charged in several different ways. Some instances may qualify as a Class A misdemeanor while others may be charged as a first-degree felony. The severity of the charges depends on the nature and severity of the assault.
Texas does not have official “domestic violence” laws; rather, they are referred to as assault on a family member. Within this category, there are three different types of crimes: domestic assault, aggravated domestic assault, and continuous violence against the family.
Domestic assault occurs when a defendant threatens a person with bodily injury, causes bodily injury, or causes physical contact that is provocative or offensive. But whether it’s classified as a misdemeanor or a felony depends on the defendant’s history. If the defendant has no prior domestic assault convictions, the charge will be filed as a Class A misdemeanor.
Aggravated domestic assault occurs when the defendant uses a weapon to commit the assault or when the victim suffers serious bodily injury. A weapon can include anything from a firearm or a hunting knife to brass knuckles or a baseball bat. If the victim suffers serious bodily harm, the aggravated assault will be filed as a first-degree felony; otherwise, it will be a second-degree felony.
A domestic abuser may also be charged with continuous violence against the family, a third-degree felony. If a defendant commits two domestic assaults within twelve months, they can receive this conviction. The assaults don’t have to result in an arrest or a conviction at the time, and the two assaults do not need to be against the same victim or household.
There is some gray area in which people in your life count as family members. An assault against your coworker at the office won’t count, but will an assault on your third cousin who you haven’t seen for ten years before the incident? In general, these charges can cover family members, household members, or a current or previous romantic partner of the perpetrator.
Victims of assault on a family member may include a current or former spouse or the child of a current or former spouse. A person with who the offender has children, a foster child or foster parent, or someone with whom the offender lives can also qualify. And any family member by blood, marriage, or adoption, as well as anyone with whom the offender has had an ongoing romantic relationship can fall under these charges.
The penalties for assault on a family member can vary depending on what level of charge was brought against you. A Class A misdemeanor is the least serious of these charges. These crimes are punishable by up to a year in prison, up to $4,000 in fines, or both.
If you are convicted of a third-degree felony, you may face between two and ten years in prison. You might also have to pay a fine of up to $10,000.
A second-degree felony may carry a jail sentence of between two and ten years. The $10,000 fine may also apply to these cases.
And a first-degree felony, the most serious, carries a jail sentence of between five and ninety-nine years in prison. You might also have to pay the fine of up to $10,000.
Depending on your sentence, you may be required to pay reimbursement known as restitution to your victim. This can cover medical treatment, replacement of damaged property, and more. You might also be able to get deferred adjudication or community supervision as an alternative to jail time.
If you’re facing assault charges, you must get a good lawyer. You’ll be up against professional prosecution attorneys, and anything you say can and will be used against you in a court of law. Your simplest sentences could be taken as confessions, leading to your conviction.
Your attorney will know what to say and not say to keep you from facing a false conviction. They can help you present your case in the best light and make sure all your rights are respected. They will also be familiar with the legal system and can advise you about the best action to take in your case.
Although knowing more about an assault on a family member is a good idea, it’s not enough to do research on similar cases and expect to come up with a defense on your own. Criminal attorneys spend years, even decades, studying and practicing law to get to a point where they can navigate the legal system in their state. It’s unwise to think that a few internet searches can replicate this knowledge.
If you are charged with a crime in Houston, it’s time to contact a qualified Houston Criminal Defense Attorney to work on your case. Contact the offices of Christopher T. Gore to set up a consultation and learn more about how he can help you move forward.