When an assault is committed against a family or household member or person with whom the alleged offender has or had a dating relationship, the crime is commonly referred to as domestic assault. When law enforcement is responding to any possible domestic violence call, it usually leads to one person being arrested and domestic assault is often the criminal charge.
Police feel obligated to take one person into custody to protect an alleged victim of domestic violence. As a result, a person can be charged with domestic assault when there is no real evidence that a crime was ever committed.
If you or your loved one were recently arrested for an alleged domestic assault in Fort Worth, you want to try to exercise your right to remain silent when dealing with police. You should try not to say anything until you have legal counsel.
Make sure that your first phone call is to the Law Offices of Richard C. McConathy. Call (817) 422-5350 or contact us online to receive a free consultation.
Texas Penal Code § 22.01 establishes that a person commits domestic assault by doing any of the following to a family or household members or person with whom the alleged offender has or had a dating relationship:
● intentionally or knowingly cause physical contact with another person when the alleged offender knows or should reasonably believe that the other will regard the contact as offensive or provocative;
● intentionally or knowingly threaten another with imminent bodily injury, including the alleged offender's spouse; or
● intentionally, knowingly, or recklessly cause bodily injury to another person, including the alleged offender's spouse.
When an alleged offender threatens bodily injury or threatens to cause offensive physical contact, domestic assault is a Class C misdemeanor. When an alleged offender causes bodily injury to an alleged victim, the crime is a Class A misdemeanor.
When an alleged offender causes bodily injury to an alleged victim and they have previously been convicted of a violent offense against the alleged victim, domestic assault becomes a third-degree felony. Third-degree felony charges will also result when an alleged offender strangles an alleged victim or otherwise stops the normal breathing or blood circulation of the alleged victim by applying pressure to the neck or throat or by blocking their nose or mouth.
When an alleged offender strangles their spouse, household member or family member, or otherwise stops the normal breathing or blood circulation of the alleged victim by applying pressure to the neck or throat or by blocking their nose or mouth, and they have a history of engaging in family violence, domestic assault is a second degree felony. When an assault offense is committed against a family or household member or person with a dating relationship and causes serious bodily injury to the alleged victim or involves the use or exhibit a deadly weapon during the commission of the domestic assault, the alleged offender can be charged with aggravated domestic assault.
Aggravated domestic assault is also a second-degree felony but it is a first-degree felony if the alleged offender uses a deadly weapon during the offense or causes serious bodily injury to the alleged victim. Serious bodily injury is defined under Texas Penal Code § 1.07(46) 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.
Domestic assault convictions can carry fairly stiff penalties. Consequences of convictions will depend on how offenses have been classified but are generally punishable as follows:
● First-Degree Felony — Fine of up to $50,000 and/or up to 99 years or life in prison
● Second-Degree Felony — Fine of up to $10,000 and/or up to 20 years in prison
● Third-Degree Felony — Fine of up to $10,000 and/or up to 10 years in prison
● Class A Misdemeanor — Fine of up to $4,000 and/or up to one year in jail
● Class C Misdemeanor — Fine of up to $500
Some people are arrested without any real evidence that an assault was ever committed. If a case involves exaggerated or even false allegations by an alleged victim, a criminal defense attorney can look for any inconsistencies or flaws in the testimony to prove your innocence.
Self-defense or defense of others claims are common defenses to many domestic assault charges. Juries are generally more reluctant to convict people who committed assault only out of acts of defense.
Tarrant County Domestic Assault Resources
Family Violence | Texas DPS — You can access Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS) family violence statistics for 2017. According to DPS, 96.9 percent of family violence offenses were assaults. Of these, 74.8 percent were simple assault, 14.4 percent were aggravated assault, and 7.4 percent stemmed from intimidation.
A Guide to the Texas Criminal Legal System for Family Violence Victims — TexasLawHelp.org identifies itself as being a joint effort of legal aid, courts, and nonprofit organizations throughout Texas. You can learn more about what constitutes family violence on this website. You can also find information about what to do when family violence occurs.
Were you or your loved one arrested for an alleged domestic assault in Fort Worth or a nearby community in Tarrant County? Do not wait to contact the Law Offices of Richard C. McConathy.
Our firm can fight to possibly get your criminal charges reduced or dismissed. We can assess all of your legal options as soon as you call (817) 422-5350 or contact us online to schedule a free consultation.