Domestic assault is a serious crime that nobody wants to have to answer to in a Texas court, but aggravated domestic assault is an elevated charge that can carry even greater consequences for an alleged offender. Prosecutors handling these types of cases are usually intent on making sure that alleged offenders receive the maximum punishments allowed by law.
Aggravated domestic assault crimes still need to satisfy a number of different elements, so no case is necessarily going to be an easy one when the alleged offender has a solid defense. Anybody accused of this crime will want to make sure that they take the time to explore all of their defense options.
If you were arrested for an alleged aggravated domestic assault crime in the greater Dallas area, you owe it to yourself to find an attorney who will be committed to helping you get the best possible result to your case. The Law Offices of Richard C. McConathy regularly defend people in Texas against all kinds of family violence crimes.
Our firm understands the ways in which these criminal charges can be reduced or dismissed. You can have us look at your case and discuss your legal options with you when you call (972) 233-5700 or contact us online to schedule a free consultation.
Whereas simple assault in Texas is typically a Class A misdemeanor, the criminal charge is elevated to a third-degree felony when the alleged victim of the assault is either a person who was in a dating relationship with the alleged offender, a family member or a household member. The Texas Family Code has specific definitions for these terms.
Under Texas Family Code § 71.0021, dating violence is defined as an act, other than a defensive measure to protect oneself, by an alleged offender that:
- is committed against a victim or applicant for a protective order with whom the actor has or has had a dating relationship; or because of the victim’s or applicant’s marriage to or dating relationship with an individual with whom the actor is or has been in a dating relationship or marriage; and
- is intended to result in physical harm, bodily injury, assault, or sexual assault or that is a threat that reasonably places the victim or applicant in fear of imminent physical harm, bodily injury, assault, or sexual assault.
The statute further states that a dating relationship is defined as a relationship between individuals who have or have had a continuing relationship of a romantic or intimate nature. The existence of such a relationship is determined based on consideration of the length of the relationship, the nature of the relationship, and the frequency and type of interaction between the persons involved in the relationship. A casual acquaintanceship or ordinary fraternization in a business or social context does not constitute a “dating relationship.”
Under Texas Family Code § 71.003, the term family includes individuals related by consanguinity (one is a descendant of the other or they share a common ancestor) or affinity (if two individuals are married to each other or the spouse of one of the individuals is related by consanguinity to the other individual), individuals who are former spouses of each other, individuals who are the parents of the same child, without regard to marriage, and a foster child and foster parent, without regard to whether those individuals reside together.
Texas Family Code § 71.005 establishes that the term household means a unit composed of persons living together in the same dwelling, without regard to whether they are related to each other. Under Texas Family Code § 71.006, a member of a household includes a person who previously lived in a household.
Under Texas Penal Code § 22.01, a person commits the crime of assault if they:
- intentionally, knowingly, or recklessly causes bodily injury to another, including the person’s spouse;
- intentionally or knowingly threatens another with imminent bodily injury, including the person’s spouse; or
- intentionally or knowingly causes physical contact with another when the person knows or should reasonably believe that the other will regard the contact as offensive or provocative.
Texas Penal Code § 22.02 states that a person commits an aggravated assault when they commit an assault and cause serious bodily injury to another, including the person’s spouse, or use or exhibits a deadly weapon during the commission of the assault. Under Texas Penal Code § 1.07(17), a deadly weapon is defined as a firearm or anything manifestly designed, made, or adapted for the purpose of inflicting death or serious bodily injury, or anything that in the manner of its use or intended use is capable of causing death or serious bodily injury.
Texas Penal Code § 1.07(8) defines a bodily injury as physical pain, illness, or any impairment of physical condition. Under Texas Penal Code § 1.07(46), a serious bodily injury is defined as bodily injury that creates a substantial risk of death or that causes death, serious permanent disfigurement, or protracted loss or impairment of the function of any bodily member or organ.
Whereas an aggravated assault is typically a second-degree felony, aggravated domestic assault is often a first-degree felony because it usually involves causing serious bodily injury to a person whose relationship to the alleged offender is described as a dating relationship, family, or household member. The criminal charge can also be elevated if the alleged offense is committed:
- by a public servant acting under color of the servant’s office or employment;
- against a person the actor knows is a public servant while the public servant is lawfully discharging an official duty, or in retaliation or on account of an exercise of official power or performance of an official duty as a public servant;
- in retaliation against or on account of the service of another as a witness, prospective witness, informant, or person who has reported the occurrence of a crime; or
- against a person, the actor knows is a security officer while the officer is performing a duty as a security officer
Finally, the crime can also be elevated to a first-degree felony if the alleged offender was in a motor vehicle, and knowingly discharged a firearm at or in the direction of a habitation, building, or vehicle, was reckless as to whether the habitation, building, or vehicle is occupied, and in discharging the firearm, caused serious bodily injury to any person.
Aggravated domestic assault is often a first-degree felony, the highest degree of a felony offense in Texas. The result will be that an alleged offender can face some very stiff punishments if they are convicted.
A conviction could involve a prison sentence of at least five years up to as many as 99 years or life in prison. An alleged offender could also be ordered to pay a fine of $10,000.
An alleged offender could also be ordered to pay restitution to the alleged victim of an aggravated domestic assault.
State v. Eakins, 71 SW 3d 443 — The Court of Appeals of Texas in Austin noted that assault with bodily injury, ordinarily a class A misdemeanor, is a third-degree felony if the offense is committed against a member of the defendant’s family or household if it is shown on the trial of the offense that the defendant has been previously convicted of an offense against a member of the defendant’s family or household under this section. The question presented in this appeal was how the State can prove, in a prosecution for assaulting a family member, that the defendant has previously been convicted of assaulting a family member and is, therefore, guilty of a felony pursuant to Texas Penal Code § 22.01(b)(2). Jesse Lee Eakins moved to suppress all evidence in his previous conviction for assaulting a family member in Tom Green County and his motion was granted, but the Court of Appeals reversed the district court’s order. The Court of Appeals held that in a prosecution pursuant to Texas Penal Code § 22.01(b)(2), the absence of an article 42.013 affirmative finding in a judgment of conviction for a previous assault does not in itself preclude the introduction of extrinsic evidence that the previous assault was committed against a family member.
Manning v. State, 112 SW 3d 740 — Charles Edward Manning, Jr. appealed his felony assault conviction, arguing the trial court erred by denying the appellant’s motion to quash the indictment, and the evidence was legally and factually insufficient to prove he assaulted a household member. A jury found Manning guilty and sentenced him to 50 years’ confinement in the Texas Department of Criminal Justice, Institutional Division. The Court of Appeals of Texas in Houston affirmed the trial court’s judgment, ruling that the trial court’s denial of the appellant’s motion to quash the indictment was not an abuse of discretion, and Manning could not challenge the sufficiency of the evidence to prove the complainant was a household member at the time of the 1996 assault because Manning’s plea of “true” to the enhancement paragraph in the present indictment relieved the State of its burden of proof on this point. The evidence adduced at trial was legally and factually sufficient to prove the complainant was a household member at the time of the 2001 assault.
Find a Dallas Aggravated Domestic Assault Attorney | Law Offices of Richard C. McConathy
Were you arrested for an aggravated domestic assault in Dallas? You are going to want to be sure to get yourself qualified legal representation as soon as possible.
The Law Offices of Richard C. McConathy can aggressively defend you against these charges and help secure your freedom. Make sure you call (972) 233-5700 or contact our firm online to take advantage of a free consultation.