What Are The Penalties in Texas for Family Violence Charges?

A previous post outlined the five types of criminal charges that involve family violence, or domestic violence. These are:

  • Domestic assault 
  • Aggravated domestic assault 
  • Continuous violence against the family 
  • Child abuse 
  • Stalking

In this post we will discuss the potential penalties each of these criminal charges could carry. Every domestic violence case has its own unique circumstances and those circumstances determine how a case is charged and the potential criminal defense strategies. When you meet with a criminal defense lawyer, they will ask questions to help craft a defense strategy specific to your case. 

Domestic Assault Penalties

  • Did the “assault” or the threat really happen? Or does the other party have a motive for or a history of lying?
  • Was the fight one-sided or did the injury occur while the ac used was protecting themselves?
  • Did the “victim” suffer any injury or lasting harm?

These are just a few of the unique circumstances that could see impact the carges and sentencing. 

If the purported victim has not suffered lasting pain or harm, the charge could be a Class C misdemeanor and sentencing could be a little as a $500 fine. However, being found guilty of any charge of family violence gives you a criminal record that you have to acknowledge on job applications, rental applications, and any other time an agency conducts a criminal background check. Even a misdemeanor conviction is serious.

If an assault caused injury, pain or left marks, it could be charged as a Class A misdemeanor. Conviction for a Class A misdemeanor can carry up to a year of jail time and a fine up to $4,000. 

If the victim was choked or strangled, the charge is enhanced to a 3rd degree felony, with the potential for prison time of 2-10 years and up to $10,000 in fines. 

Aggravated Assault Penalties

A charge of aggravated assault often hinges on the use of a weapon. Was the object the victim says is a weapon, actually a weapon or just an object at the scene? Was the “weapon” actually used in any way or was it just present? 

Aggravated assault is charged as a 2nd degree felony and carries the potential for a prison sentence of 2-20 years, and a fine of up to $10,000.

Continuous Violence Against a Family Member 

A continuous violence charge hinges upon there having been at least two previous assaults in the past 12 months. Those assaults need not have been against the same person and they need not have been reported to the police, so the police and prosecutor are relying on the word of the purported victim. That may not be adequate. Especially if the victim had a reason to lie or embellish the truth. 

Sometimes, after having time to reflect, the victim agrees that their original statement to the police was not wholly accurate or representative of the situation. They can sign an affidavit of non-prosecution, which states that they do not want to prosecute the case. 

Continuous violence can be charged as a 3rd degree felony, with a sentence of 2 to 10 years in prison and a fine of up to $10,000. The sentence can be enhanced if choking or strangulation was involved. 

Child Abuse

Texas law recognizes that there are times when a child may suffer injury or pain without it being abuse or neglect, such aswhen:

  • You are disciplining a child
  • You are safeguarding them from a greater danger
  • An unavoidable accident occurs

Child abuse charges can range from a Class A or Class B misdemeanor (with a fine and possible jail time) to a 3rd degree felony with a 2–10-year prison sentence and a fine of up to $10,000. 

Stalking 

Stalking is a 3rd degree felony, which carries a sentence of 2-10 years in prison and a fine of up to $10,000. If the accused had a prior stalking conviction on their record, the charged could be a 2nd degree felony, with a sentence of up to 20 years in prison. An offender could also be subject to a protective order limiting contact with the victim and their family and friends. This could result in loss of custody of shared children. 

Fighting Family Violence Charges

A family violence conviction can have life-long consequences. It’s important to fight back. Everyone deserves a strong defense to protect them from false charges, from being over-charged by a zealous prosecutor, and to protect them from excessive punishment. A strong defense is your right. Contact an experienced McKinney criminal defense lawyer, Matthew Maddox, at 972-373-3635. He will explain the charges against you and defense options. 

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