Felony Assault by Strangulation

Assault is ordinarily charged as a Class A misdemeanor. Tex. Penal Code § 22.01(a) & (b). Under certain circumstances, an assault is elevated to a third-degree felony. The offense of assault can be elevated to a third-degree felony when it is committed against a family member “by intentionally, knowingly, or recklessly impeding the normal breathing ... of the [victim] ... by blocking the [victim's] nose or mouth[.]” Tex. Penal Code § 22.01(b)(2)(B).

This criminal offense is often called assault by choking, smothering or strangulation. For an assault by strangulation offense, when the offense causes bodily injury by impeding the normal breathing of a family member, by blocking that family member's nose or mouth, the then offense is charged more seriously and is considered third-degree felony family assault.

Attorney for Felony Strangulation Assault in Fort Worth, TX

If you were charged with felony assault by strangulation, choking, or smothering in Fort Worth or Tarrant County, TX, then contact an experienced criminal defense attorney at Law Offices of Richard C. McConathy.We represent clients charged with a variety of violent crimes including aggravated assault causing serious bodily injury or involving a deadly weapon.

Call (817) 422-5350 today to schedule a one-on-one consultation to discuss your case.

Crimes of Strangulation, Choking or Smothering in Tarrant County, TX

The charges are more serious because the Texas Legislature recognized that either strangulation or smothering may cause injury or death by asphyxiation.

The term "smothering" typically causes asphyxia by preventing oxygen from getting into the lungs for distribution to other organs. Examples of smothering include covering the victim's mouth and nose. 

The term "strangulation" typically involves pressure to the neck or throat area and causes asphyxia by preventing oxygen from getting to the lungs and/or preventing oxygenated blood from circulating from the lungs to the brain.

Elements of Texas Penal Code § 22.01(a)(2)(B)

Felony assault against a family member by strangulation or smothering is charged under Penal Code § 22.01(a)(2)(B) which provides: 

(a) A person commits an offense if the person:

(1) intentionally, knowingly, or recklessly causes bodily injury to another, including the person's spouse;...

(b) An offense under Subsection (a)(1) is a Class A misdemeanor, except that the offense is a felony of the third degree if the offense is committed against:...

(2) a person whose relationship to or association with the defendant is described by Section 71.0021(b), 71.003, or 71.005, Family Code, if:..

(B) the offense is committed by intentionally, knowingly, or recklessly impeding the normal breathing or circulation of the blood of the person by applying pressure to the person's throat or neck or by blocking the person's nose or mouth ....

In the concurring opinion in Price v. State, 457 S.W.3d 437, 444 (Tex.Crim.App.2015), the court observed:

To me, impeding breath ... sounds a lot more like the description of a type of conduct than the description of a particular result of conduct. Certainly, causing bodily injury is a result-oriented offense. But when the statute goes on to proscribe a very particular way of causing that result, by impeding breath ...and then makes that particular way of causing bodily injury a more serious offense, it seems to me that the Legislature has veered into nature-of-conduct territory.

For present purposes, the point is that, regardless of whether impeding breath is a nature-of-conduct element (as I believe) or a result-of-conduct element, it serves to describe a particular manner or means by which bodily injury must be caused before the offense is elevated to the status of a third-degree felony.

Finding Attorneys for Assault by Strangulations in Tarrant County

Although simple assault is a result-of-conduct offense, unless and until the defendant causes bodily injury, he has not committed either a Class A misdemeanor or a third-degree felony.

According to the statute, the defendant commits the third-degree felony once the defendant causes bodily injury to a family member and has done so in a particular way, namely, “by ... impeding the normal breathing or circulation of the blood of [the family member] by applying pressure to the [family member's] throat or neck or by blocking [the family member's] nose or mouth[.]” TEX. PENAL CODE § 22.01(b)(2)(B).

If you were charged with any type of assault crime in Fort Worth, TX, or the more serious offense of felony aggravated assault crime under Texas law, then contact an experienced criminal defense attorney in Fort Worth, TX, for Tarrant County.

This article was last updated on Monday, April 17, 2017.

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