Assault by Strangulation

Domestic violence allegations are serious. They can lead to punishing fines and sometimes lengthy prison sentences. Specifically, assault by strangulation charges have substantially heavy consequences in court. Texas Legislature’s new regulations in 2009 made convictions for suffocation or strangulation a felony.

There can be misunderstandings involving strangulation. The most common is when the “suffocation” is done in a sexual nature. Despite this, people who have reported being strangled by their partner are at a much higher risk of being killed by that partner, by accident or intentionally.

Studies have discovered that cutting off oxygen through the nose or mouth cuts off blood flow. Sometimes suffocation can lead to unconsciousness in only ten seconds. Some are killed by strangulation in less than two minutes. Assault by strangulation can also cause difficulty in concentration, and brain injury involving loss of short-term memory.

Since suffocation has such heavy penalties, it is imperative that one seeks legal representation if they are charged with assault by strangulation.

Attorney for Assault by Strangulation in Dallas, Texas

Have you or someone you know been charged with assault by strangulation in the greater Dallas area? There are circumstances and reasons for every assault case. Contact Law Offices of Richard C. McConathy and let us listen to your side of the story.

All the attorneys at Law Offices of Richard C. McConathy are licensed and experienced in criminal defense. We believe in attending each case with the utmost care to bring about the best outcomes for you.

We serve clients all over the North Texas area, with offices in Plano, Allen, Denton, Fort Worth, and Dallas, Texas. Our attorneys will fight fearlessly for your assault charge in Dallas County or any of the surrounding counties such as Tarrant County, or Collin County.

Dial (972) 233-5700 or schedule a free consultation online to discuss your case with a qualified attorney.


Elements for Assault by Strangulation under Texas Law

The Texas Penal Code sec. 22.01 states listed assaults that can be considered a crime. It then breaks down which assault offenses have enhanced penalties. Texas legislature states that choking or impeding breathing is a family violence, and may result in a felony.

There are certain elements that must be proven by the prosecution to get a conviction for assault by strangulation. Texas Penal Code sec. 22.01(B) states that the offender must have:

  • Acted intentionally, knowingly, or recklessly to:
    • impede the normal breathing, or;
    • impede the normal circulation of the blood of the victim by applying pressure to the victim’s neck or throat, or by blocking the person’s nose or mouth.
  • Choking crimes can include:
    • hanging,
    • manual, and
    • ligature.

Manual strangulation is defined as using one’s body to impede breath. Commonly manual strangulations are done by using the hands or arms to block the victim’s mouth, nose, or neck.

Ligature, on the other hand, is when an object is used to choke the victim. For instance, the offender may use a rope, chain, phone cord, shoelace, or clothing to crush the victim’s throat.

Lastly, hanging is when suspension is used to impede breath in a victim. A victim could be hung using an overhead light cord, rope, or have plastic bags around their mouth or nose to stop airflow.

In the event of a strangulation case, law enforcement is required to make an arrest. This is even if there is no physical injury or minor ones. There is a chance the offender may be arrested at the scene of the offense.


Common Evidence used in Choking Offenses

Law enforcement must question the victim when investigating an assault by strangulation. If the alleged victim has ulterior motives, it can be incredibly hard for authorities to discern what the truth is. False allegations do occur with suffocation cases, specifically of a sexual nature.

Signs of strangulation that law enforcement is trained to look for are:

  • a sore throat;
  • sounding “out of breath” because of a broken trachea or narrow air tube;
  • difficult speaking;
  • dizziness;
  • psychosis or amnesia;
  • a headache;
  • involuntary defecation;
  • involuntary urination;
  • having a raspy voice;
  • complaints of a stiff neck;
  • neck swelling;
  • small red spots on the neck or face, otherwise known as petechiae;
  • linear injuries caused by an object used to strangle the alleged victim;
  • bloodshot eyes that occur when capillaries rupture in the whites of the eyes; and
  • abrasions under the chin.

Additional Resources

Family Violence Strangulation in Texas – Visit the Texas Council on Family Violence’s website and view their reports surrounding assault by strangulation. Research the physical and internal signs of suffocation, statistics, and questions used by law enforcement for alleged victims.

The National Domestic Violence Hotline – Visit the National Domestic Violence Hotline’s website to answer frequently asked questions about family violence. See emergency hotlines to use in case of domestic violence, examples of healthy relationships, and resources surrounding assaults of all kinds.

Texas Penal Code: Chapter 22 -View the Texas Statute regarding assaultive offenses. Read statutory language on different kinds of assaults. See the specifics on assault by strangulation, what the adjoining penalties are, and other assaults defined under Texas Law.


Finding an Assault by Strangulation Lawyer in Dallas County, Texas

Assault by strangulation charges can have weighty consequences depending on the circumstances of the case. Do not take any allegations lightly. It is in your best interest to contact an experienced criminal defense attorney if you’ve been charged with assault charges.

The attorneys at Law Offices of Richard C. McConathy will take on any kind of family violence case in the Dallas-Fort Worth-Arlington metropolitan area. We accept clients all over including Dallas in Dallas County, Plano in Collin County, Allen in Collin County, Denton in Denton County, and Fort Worth in Tarrant County, Texas.

The attorneys at Law Offices of Richard C. McConathy are experienced in assault cases and have faced local law enforcement agencies in court such as Wilmer, Dallas, Ferris, Seagoville, Desoto, Glen Heights, Arlington, Lancaster, Dallas, Forney, and Hutchins.

We are familiar with representing clients after an investigation involving the Department of Public Safety, the Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI), and Immigration & Customs Enforcement (ICE).

Do not let assault allegations stop your endeavors. Call (972) 233-5700 for legal counsel surrounding your case, or send a contact form to schedule an appointment for a free consultation. Let us work with you to get the possible result for your case.


This article was last updated, May 8, 2018.


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