Definition of Domestic Violence in Fort Worth
Texas law has a very generous definition of the parties involved in a domestic violence situation; the definition includes, of course, anyone who is a relative by blood or marriage of the victim, as well as anyone who lives in the same household and also anyone who is in a dating relationship. It can be a boyfriend and a girlfriend or even a casual dating relationship.
If an assault is committed between any two parties, then it is a Class A misdemeanor; an assault is any type of bodily injury, and Texas law is also very generous in defining bodily injuries. It can be pain or discomfort or anything slightly temporary. It doesn’t even have to cause any type of visible mark, bruise, cut or scrape. It can be a slap, a pinch, a push or a shove such that it causes pain. If it’s an assault on a family member, this is called Assault with Bodily Injury and is even more serious than a normal assault case because if it’s alleged to be against a family member, then it has more consequences and should be addressed with the assistance of a Fort Worth domestic violence attorney.
In a typical assault charge, you have the ability to seal that record so it’s not disclosed to the public. But with an assault on a family member, this isn’t available to you. Whether you get a deferred adjudication probation, which translates to being found not guilty, or you get a conviction, serve your time then serve probation, you can never get the charge off your record, so there is nothing that prevents it from being disclosed to the public.
Furthermore, if you are accused of that offense again and are found guilty, it’s a felony. If you have been convicted of assault on a family member or placed on probation or deferred adjudication for that crime, then it’s a federal offense to own or possess a firearm. So you no longer have the right to have a gun, even in your home for self-defense.
How Serious Are Allegations Of Domestic Violence?
Of course, the punishment for a Class A Assault with Bodily Injury in a domestic situation is a Class A misdemeanor for which you could get up to a year in jail and up to a $4,000 fine. But also, any time there is an allegation of assault on a family member and a person has been arrested for that offense, even though they haven’t gone to court yet and are presumed innocent, they can also be given a protective order or an emergency protective order, which means they can have no contact with the complaining witness or the person who allegedly was assaulted, the victim.
This means that you can’t go to their place of work, you can’t have any contact with them, and you can’t go to the place they live. If you are living together, then all of a sudden you’re on the street, or you’ll have to find another place to live because you can’t even go to your own home without violating the protective order, which could land you in jail.
How Is A Misdemeanor Domestic Violence Charge Differentiated From A Felony?
If you commit an Assault with Bodily Injury on a family member, even though it didn’t cause any permanent disfigurement or a scar, it becomes a felony if you’ve been convicted of or placed on deferred adjudication for that offense before. Or if you hinder breathing of a family member, which would include choking or bear-hugging such that the individual has trouble breathing, then that can be charged as a felony hindering of breathing. Sometimes two people can be in a physical struggle, and one pushes the other by the neck: this might be charged as felony hindering of breathing because the hand was placed on the neck.
Of course, if serious bodily injury occurs to a family member, it can be a felony. Serious bodily injury is defined as anything that causes permanent or protracted loss or impairment of the use of any bodily member or organ, which means a serious physical injury or permanent disfigurement. Serious bodily injury also includes any injury that causes serious risk of death.