Aggravated Family Violence Assault

Although most acts of domestic violence are prosecuted as a misdemeanor, felony charges can be alleged when the victim suffers a serious bodily injury or when a deadly weapon was used. The penalties and punishments are harsh for any domestic violence allegation, but when the victim is seriously injured or a deadly weapon was used, the consequences are particularly severe.

Lawyers for Family Violence Aggravated Assault in Tarrant County, TX

If you were accused of any felony act of family, domestic or dating violence, then immediately contact an experienced criminal defense attorney. It is particularly important to hire the attorney as early in the case as possible so that all avenues of attacking the charges can be addressed.

Call us for a free consultation. We can help you understand the charges pending against you, the maximum and minimum penalties associated with that felony charge, and important defenses that can be used to fight for an outright dismissal of the charges. False allegations are particularly common in domestic violence cases involving a pending divorce or child custody issue. We also represent clients charged with a felony for aggravated family violence assault involving serious bodily injury or a deadly weapon.

Call us at (817) 422-5350 to discuss your case.


Elements of Aggravated Family Violence Assault

The crime of aggravated family violence assault requires proof beyond all reasonable doubt of the following elements:

  • the defendant acted intentionally, knowingly, or recklessly;
  • the defendant causes serious bodily injury to a person;
  • the person uses a deadly weapon during the assault;
  • the victim has a relationship or association with the defendant that is described by sections of the Family Code for:
    • a dating relationship;
    • a family relationship; or
    • a household relationship.

Texas Penal Code §§ 22.01(a) defines assault causing bodily injury. Section 22.02(b)(1) defines aggravated family violence assault as assault when defendant both uses a deadly weapon and causes serious bodily injury to family member, household member, or dating partner.


Definition of Serious Bodily Injury under the Assault Statute

Under Tex. Penal Code § 1.07(a)(8), “bodily injury” is defined as “physical pain, illness, or any impairment of physical condition.” Section § 1.07(a)(46) of the Texas Penal Code defines “serious bodily injury” 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.”

The distinction between “bodily injury” and “serious bodily injury” is often a matter of degree determined on a case-by-case basis. The Courts in Texas have recognized that there are no per se wounds that necessarily constitute “serious bodily injury” that necessarily apply in every case. Instead, courts must evaluate each case on its own facts to determine whether the evidence is sufficient to permit the jury to reasonably conclude that the injury fell within the definition of “serious bodily injury.

When evaluating the sufficiency of the evidence to determine whether the victim suffered a “serious bodily injury,” the courts should not consider the amelioration or exacerbation of an injury by actions not attributable to the defendant, such as medical treatment. Instead, the issue is the degree of risk of death that the injury caused or the disfiguring or impairing effect of the injury as it was inflicted.

The fact that an injury causes scarring is not sufficient, on its own, to establish serious permanent disfigurement. For example, in Hernandez v. State, 946 S.W.2d 108, 113 (Tex. App.—El Paso 1997, no pet.), the court found that evidence of one-inch scar from a stab wound in addition to a surgical scar insufficient to elevate "bodily injury" to "serious bodily injury." In McCoy v. State, 932 S.W.2d 720, 724 (Tex. App.—Fort Worth 1996, pet. ref'd), the court concluded that evidence of a slight scar on lip, though permanent, was not sufficient to show serious permanent disfigurement.


This article was last updated on Friday, April 14, 2017.

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