Domestic Violence/Assault on a Family Member
Domestic violence occurs more often than one would like to think. It is an uncomfortable subject to discuss and victims fail to report their abusers either due to fear or embarrassment of how they or a loved one will be viewed by the public. In Texas, domestic violence charges are referred to as Assault on a Family Member. Unlike regular assault, Assault on a Family member refers to an assault where the victim is your spouse, someone you are in a relationship with, a child, or a family member. A range of actions from threats to physical violence are punishable under the law as Assault on a Family Member.
A first offense is a Class A Misdemeanor, punishable by up to 1 year in the county jail and up to a $4000 fine. If you have previously been convicted of Assault on a Family Member and you are charged with a second Assault on a Family Member you will be charged with a 3rd degree felony with punishment ranging from 2 to 10 years in prison and up to a $10,000 fine. If serious bodily injury occurs during the assault or a weapon is used in the commission of the assault you will be charged with a 2nd degree felony with punishment ranging from 2 to 20 years in prison and up to a $10,000 fine. If serious bodily injury occurs and a weapon is used, you could be charged with a 1st degree felony with a punishment ranging from 5 years to life in prison.
A common occurrence once a loved one has reported a domestic assault to law enforcement is to want to recant their statement in court and deny that the assault happened, they may even request that no charges be filed or that the charges be dropped. Although some victims decide that they no longer wish to have their abusers prosecuted, Assault on a Family Member is treated as a very serious crime in Texas courts and prosecutors often continue to prosecute these cases despite the victim’s request.
Pleading guilty or being found guilty of Assault on a Family Member is a conviction that will follow you forever. Even if you successfully complete a deferred adjudication you will not be eligible to get your record sealed. If you or a loved one is charged with Assault on a Family Member, I would advise that you consult with an attorney and have a thorough understanding of the punishments and penalties involved.