While the state prosecutes criminal charges of assault and domestic violence assault under the same section of the Texas Penal Code, the penalties for these two offenses can be entirely different. A domestic violence conviction, even if charged as a misdemeanor offense, can have collateral consequences, including an inability to possess a firearm. If you are facing these accusations, you may wish to contact a Richardson domestic violence lawyer right away.

You should be aware of the full range of consequences of a conviction, including the impact that it may have on your job, your professional license, and your child custody arrangements. A skilled defense lawyer may be able to fully explain the potential repercussions of a domestic violence charge and help you develop the most effective defense possible.

Defining Domestic Violence

Texas law does not contain a separate offense that specifically addresses domestic violence. Instead, violent incidents between family and household members fall under existing criminal statutes. As the definition of assault is expansive, it encompasses many of the behaviors typically seen in a domestic violence situation.

Tex. Pen. Code § 71.003 defines family and household members as all relatives, current and former spouses, and any individuals who share a child. The involvement of any of these individuals in an assault and aggravated assault make it a crime of domestic violence, which can result in enhanced penalties. As these penalties can be potentially severe, consulting a domestic violence attorney in Richardson is highly advisable.

Underlying Charges in These Offenses

Under Tex. Pen. Code § 22.01, assault includes a range of actions, some of which result in injury, some of which involve physical contact that causes injury, and some of which require no physical contact at all. An assault charge can be based on threats of causing imminent physical harm to others, or on knowingly causing bodily injury to others.

Aggravated assault is a more severe charge. According to Tex. Pen. Code § 22.02, aggravated assault occurs when someone commits an assault while using or possessing a deadly weapon, or when an assault results in serious bodily injury. Due to the potential for years in prison, anyone who is facing aggravated assault charges may want to get legal advice from a domestic violence lawyer in Richardson as quickly as possible.

Penalties for These Charges in Richardson

Although domestic violence assault is a Class A misdemeanor, the penalties are more severe than for a typical conviction on a Class A misdemeanor. Not only can individuals face a jail sentence of up to one year and a fine of up to $4,000, but they may not possess any firearms under state and federal law. Moreover, a domestic violence conviction is likely to be accompanied by an order of protection, which, if violated, can result in additional criminal charges.

In many situations, however, domestic violence assault can be charged as a felony. For instance, a second domestic violence assault conviction can result in third-degree felony charges, which carries a potential prison sentence of two to ten years and a fine of up to $10,000.

Aggravated assault, on the other hand, is usually is a second-degree felony, but if a person uses a deadly weapon and the incident results in serious bodily injury to a family or household member, it becomes a first-degree felony. A conviction on an aggravated assault charge could result in a prison sentence ranging from five years to life and a $10,000 fine.

For repeat offenders, Tex. Pen. Code § 25.11 establishes the offense of continuous violence against the family, which applies to individuals who commit a domestic assault against family or household members on at least two separate occasions in 12 months. Continuous violence against the family is a third-degree felony.

Contact a Richardson Domestic Violence Attorney for Help

Relationships among family and household members can be volatile and quickly get out of control. Domestic violence allegations also are amazingly common when parties have child custody and visitation disputes. Whatever the source of the accusations may be, you may be able to successfully fight back against the charges by working with a Richardson domestic violence lawyer. Call now to get started.