Types of Domestic Violence in Texas
How Texas defines and punishes domestic assault
In the eyes of many, domestic assault and family violence means a type of physical abuse. However, there are different ways abuse can occur according to Texas law. Other recognized types of domestic violence are psychological, financial, sexual and emotional.
Knowledge is power when it comes to domestic abuse. Anyone accused of such crimes needs to be aware of the different types, so they are in a better position to defend against their charges.
One of the most common accusations regarding domestic violence involves allegations of physical abuse, such as hitting, kicking, punching or choking. Contrary to popular belief, such actions don’t need to result in serious bodily injury. Engaging in behavior that doesn’t result in the other party requiring medical treatment could still constitute domestic violence and result in the appropriate charges.
Psychological abuse can be defined as behavior that causes fear or is perceived as threatening or intimidating. In most cases, the other person involved will be more likely to bring charges when such incidents are seen as severe and persist.
Examples that could result in criminal action being taken for psychological abuse include:
- Emotional blackmail
- Threats of violence
- Preventing another person from leaving
- Discouraging or preventing talking with other people
A person might find themselves facing accusations of financial abuse if they prevent a spouse from working or receiving an education. With household resources usually being shared, a spouse may complain of financial abuse in a troubled relationship. Although this type of abuse accusation is less common, the possible consequences are just as serious.
Sexual abuse is not only defined as rape or sex assault but can also be interpreted to include unwanted touching. Pressuring a partner into getting an abortion or not using birth control are also possible examples of how this abuse is defined. Many are unaware of how broadly sexual abuse can be interpreted until they are facing charges.
Overly critical, humiliating and insulting behaviors are often treated as a form of emotional abuse. In most cases, an accuser is more likely to pursue abuse charges when an additional form of abuse is present. Emotional abuse is otherwise difficult for accusers to prove.
Another form of abuse that has drawn attention in recent years is technological abuse. Examples might include an accusation of using texts or social media to harass, bully or intimidate a partner. As much as both texting and social media play a role in peoples’ lives, accusations of this type are becoming more common.
Who can file domestic violence charges in Texas?
Texas domestic violence laws allow for a high likelihood of assault charges, which prosecutors will pursue vigorously. Although most often associated with spouses or intimate partners, the Texas domestic violence statute can also apply to:
- Other household members
- Relations by blood or affinity
- Foster parents/children
- Present or past dating partners
Penalties and punishments for domestic abuse
There are varying penalties for domestic violence:
- Domestic assault is a Class A misdemeanor if the defendant has no prior convictions. Domestic assault can be a third-degree felony with prior convictions.
- Aggravated domestic assault, which involves serious physical harm or assault with a deadly weapon, is a second-degree felony. Aggravated assault resulting in a serious injury is a first-degree felony.
- Continuous violence against the family, which involves 2 or more assaults in a year, is a third-degree felony in Texas.
The penalties for these types of crimes are severe, ranging from a year in jail for a Class A misdemeanor, all the way up to 99 years for a first-degree felony. The fines for a Class A misdemeanor may go up to $4,000 and the penalties for the felonies can reach $10,000. Any of these charges have severe legal and financial consequences.
However, these aren’t the only negative consequences that a person accused of domestic violence can face. An arrest can result in strained relationships with family and friends as well as job loss. Other consequences might include evictions, difficulty receiving financial aid for education, immigration status problems, deportation and loss of professional licenses.
A domestic violence charge has serious consequences. You don’t want to go at it alone.