Assault is typically a misdemeanor offense in Texas, but state law provides for enhanced penalties when the alleged offender impedes the normal breathing of a family or household member. In such cases, alleged offenders can face felony charges that carry much steeper penalties.
The Texas Penal Code was modified in 2009 to make strangulation or suffocation of family or household members a felony offense, allowing prosecutors greater ability to lock up people for years that they previously were only able to have sentenced to a few months of incarceration. Evidence of any injuries in these cases can be enormously important, as, without any evidence, there may be a significant disparity between the accounts of the alleged offender and the alleged victim.
Lawyer for Assault by Choking Arrests in Dallas, TX
If you were recently arrested in North Texas for an alleged assault against a family or household member by strangulation, it will be in your best interest to immediately retain legal counsel. The Law Offices of Richard C. McConathy can conduct a thorough investigation of your case and fight to possibly get the criminal charges reduced or dismissed.
Dallas criminal defense attorneys Richard McConathy and Brian Bolton represent clients accused of family violence crimes all over the greater Dallas-Fort Worth area, including Richardson, Carrolton, Mesquite, Grand Prairie, Irving, Garland, Balch Springs, and many other nearby communities. Call (972) 233-5700 right now to take advantage of a free consultation that will let our lawyers provide a complete evaluation of your case.
Texas Assault by Strangulation Information Center
- How is strangulation different from standard assault offenses?
- What are the consequences of a conviction?
- Where can I find more information about assault by strangulation in Dallas-Fort Worth?
Texas Penal Code § 22.01 defines the Class A misdemeanor offense of assault as an alleged offender intentionally, knowingly, or recklessly causing bodily injury to another person, intentionally or knowingly threatening another person with imminent bodily injury, or intentionally or knowingly causing physical contact with another person when the alleged offender knows or should reasonably believe that the other will regard the contact as offensive or provocative. Assault becomes a third-degree felony if the alleged assault is committed against a family or household member and either:
- The alleged offender has been previously convicted of an assaultive offense, criminal homicide, kidnapping, aggravated kidnapping, indecency with a child, or continuous violence against the family against a family or household member; or
- The alleged offense was committed by intentionally, knowingly, or recklessly impeding the normal breathing or circulation of the blood of the alleged victim by applying pressure to the alleged victim’s throat or neck or by blocking the alleged victim’s nose or mouth.
When it comes to defining an alleged victim as a family or household member, the specific relationships to or associations with the alleged offenders in these cases are defined under Texas Penal Code § 22.01(b)(2)(B) as including the following:
- Dating relationship, Texas Family Code § 71.0021(b) — Individuals who have or have had a continuing relationship of a romantic or intimate nature, 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.
- Family, Texas Family Code § 71.003 — Individuals related by consanguinity or affinity, as determined under Texas Government Code § 573.022 and Texas Government Code § 573.024, 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; or
- Household, Texas Family Code § 71.005 — A unit composed of persons living together in the same dwelling, without regard to whether they are related to each other.
While assaults committed against a family or household members by alleged offenders with previous enumerated convictions or involving the intentional, knowing, or reckless impeding of the normal breathing or circulation of an alleged victim are classified as third-degree felony offenses, these crimes can become second-degree felony offenses when alleged offenders with previous enumerated convictions intentionally, knowingly, or recklessly impede the normal breathing or circulation of the blood of a family or household member.
Both grades of assault by strangulation crimes carry severe possible sentences:
- Third-Degree Felony — Up to 10 years in prison and/or a fine of up to $10,000; or
- Second-Degree Felony — Up to 20 years in prison and/or a fine of up to $10,000.
Family Violence Strangulation in Texas | Texas Council on Family Violence (TCFV) — The TCFV is a 501 (c)(3) nonprofit organization that “promotes safe and healthy relationships by supporting service providers, facilitating strategic prevention efforts, and creating opportunities for freedom from domestic violence.” View a PDF version of TCFV literature that discusses assault by strangulation offenses. You can learn more about signs and symptoms of strangulation, terminology, and tips for advocates.
Gus Barron v. State, 03-11-00519-CR (Tex. App. 2013) — On July 26, 2013, the Third Court of Appeals issued its decision in this case of a man who had been found guilty of two assault offenses—a standard assault charge and a strangulation charge—arising from the same altercation with a family member. The appellant raised six issues on appeal, contending that his convictions violate double-jeopardy prohibitions, that the trial court erroneously admitted hospital records and expert testimony about the behavior of victims, that the trial court erroneously let the State amend the indictment after the trial began, and erroneously failed to instruct the jury on the lesser-included offense of misdemeanor assault. The Court of Appeals sustained the double-jeopardy issue in part, reverses and dismissed the conviction for the standard assault charge, and affirmed the conviction for the strangulation charge, finding that the State was not required to elect the manner and means by which he committed the alleged assaults, there was no harm from the admission of medical records, there was no harm from the admission of expert testimony, there was no error in alteration of the indictment, and there was no error in omission of an instruction on a lesser-included offense.
Find a Dallas Assault by Strangulation Lawyer | Law Offices of Richard C. McConathy
Were you arrested for allegedly assaulting a family or household member by strangulation in North Texas? Do not say anything to authorities until you have first contacted the Law Offices of Richard C. McConathy.
Our criminal defense attorneys in Dallas fight to achieve the best possible outcomes for clients in communities throughout Collin County, Dallas County, Denton County, and Tarrant County. You can have them review your case and answer all of your legal questions during a free, confidential consultation when you call (972) 233-5700 or submit an online contact form today.