Varghese Summersett

If you or a loved one has been charged with assault family violence in Texas, you may be trying to figure out exactly what the term means. Assault family violence Texas encompasses any intentional harm or threat toward a family member, which itself is a broadly defined term. The charge carries significant social stigma and punishments ranging from misdemeanors to felonies. Knowing your rights, potential penalties, and defense strategies is essential in this circumstance. This article written by our assault defense lawyer offers a comprehensive guide to the critical aspects of assault family violence in Texas.

assault family violence allegations

Assault Family Violence Texas Defined

In Texas, assault family violence is an intentional or reckless act causing injury or threatening to cause injury to a person considered a ‘family member.’ The law expands this offense to include behavior that qualifies as ‘family violence,’ making it an offense to engage in such behavior. The term ‘assault’ is broad, defined in Penal Code Section 22.01 as:

  • intentionally, knowingly, or recklessly causing bodily injury to another
  • the threat of imminent bodily injury
  • causing physical contact that the person knows or should reasonably believe the other will regard as offensive or provocative.

Family violence, according to Texas law, is an act committed by a family or household member against another, intending to cause:

  • physical harm
  • bodily injury
  • assault
  • sexual assault
  • creating a threat that reasonably instills fear of imminent physical harm

Grasping these definitions provides a foundation for unraveling the complexities of assault family violence in Texas.

who is a family member in texas

The Definition of “Family” Under Texas Law

‘Family,’ as defined by Texas law, includes individuals connected by ‘consanguinity,’ covering blood relations or affinity, which includes individuals related not only by blood but also by affections, such as a person’s spouse. ‘Consanguinity’ pertains to blood relations, while ‘affinity’ encompasses relationships established through marriage or other non-blood connections, such as a person’s spouse.

The law also recognizes dating relationships as part of the family definition. A dating relationship in this context refers to individuals who are or have been involved in a romantic or intimate relationship. This involves a continuing connection of a romantic or intimate nature..

The wide-ranging definition of ‘family’ under Texas law encompasses a variety of relationships in assault family violence cases.

Types of Conduct That Constitute Family Violence

Several forms of conduct can be considered family violence under Texas law. Physical assault, threats, and continuous violence are the various types of conduct that can be considered family violence under Texas law. Continuous family violence is a pattern of abuse directed towards a family or household member, recognized as a distinct form of behavior under Texas law.

Physical assault, in the context of family violence, is defined as the intentional and knowing act of violence against a family member, household member, or a current or past dating partner. Grasping these diverse forms of conduct aids in pinpointing and addressing family violence occurrences.

Severity of Family Violence in Texas: Misdemeanor to Felony

defending family violence charges

Assault family violence charges in Texas can be graded as a Class A misdemeanor, second degree felony, or third degree felony, based on the specific circumstances involved. An initial offense is usually a misdemeanor, with subsequent offenses escalating to third-degree felonies.

Assault can generally vary, ranging from a Class C Misdemeanor to a Second Degree Felony. This means that the consequences can be significant depending on the specific circumstances. A Class C offense is punishable by a fine only. A Class A misdemeanor is punishable by up to a year in jail. Third-degree felonies in Texas carry a minimum prison term of two years and a maximum of ten years, along with a potential fine of up to $10,000. Second degree felonies are 2-20 years. Grasping the grading system aids in understanding the legal repercussions of assault family violence.

When Assault Family Violence Becomes a Third Degree Felony

An Assault Family Violence charge can be elevated to a third-degree felony if there is a pattern of ongoing violence against the family or if the individual has a previous conviction for family violence. Continuous violence against the family, recognized in Texas law, covers numerous instances of domestic abuse within a specified period. It is classified as a third-degree felony and is subject to a maximum prison term of 10 years and a potential fine of $10,000.

In Texas, when a person commits an offense of repeated family violence, the state handles it with increased severity, potentially resulting in heightened penalties. Repeat offenders may be subject to the Three Strike Law, which imposes the most severe penalties and could elevate the charge to a third-degree felony.

Enhanced Penalties for Aggravated Assault Family Violence

Aggravated assault family violence is an offense in which a person engages in assault and either inflicts serious bodily injury on another individual, such as their spouse, or employs or exhibits a deadly weapon during the assault. Individuals convicted of this offense are subject to a second-degree felony charge, carrying a penalty of 2 to 20 years of imprisonment.

The charge could be escalated to aggravated assault family violence if there is severe physical assault, the use of a deadly weapon, or a significant degree of injury inflicted on the victim. If a deadly weapon was used in the assault resulting in physical harm to the victim, the charge may be elevated to a first-degree felony, carrying a potential prison sentence of 5 to 99 years and a fine of up to $10,000.

Family Violence Charges and Deportation

A family violence or domestic violence conviction will result in deportation, albeit not inadmissibility. This can be for a misdemeanor or a felony. It also does not require time in custody. Probation qualifies as a conviction. Whether or not deferred qualifies as a conviction depends in part on who is asking the question. The feds generally consider even a deferred sentence to be a conviction. Arguments can be made as to whether or not placement on deferred constituted a limitation of the person’s liberty, thereby meeting the second prong for what the feds consider a conviction. Consult with an immigration attorney when in doubt.

family violence and deportation

Legal Protections Against Assault Family Violence

There are legal protections in place to help prevent and address assault family violence in Texas. Courts have the authority to grant protective orders for victims of domestic abuse or dating violence, and there are more severe penalties for individuals convicted of these offenses.

Texas law offers comprehensive protection to victims of family violence, shielding them from harm, abuse, or the threat of harm or abuse. Restraining orders, also referred to as protective orders, are frequently employed in Texas to deter instances of family violence, encompassing violence within dating relationships and sexual assaults. They are used within the civil context to prevent immediate and irreparable injury, loss, or damage.

Defense Strategies for Assault Family Violence Allegations

Individuals accused of assault family violence can utilize various defense strategies. Self-defense is admissible as a defense in assault family violence cases in Texas, provided that the force employed is commensurate with the assault being resisted. Under the law, self-defense is a valid defense strategy in family violence cases.

Evidence that may be utilized to substantiate a self-defense assertion includes demonstrating a reasonable belief of an imminent threat, establishing that the defendant was in immediate danger, and showing that the use of force was necessary to prevent serious injury. Attorneys can utilize multiple tactics to refute the alleged victim’s account, such as questioning the prosecution’s burden of proof, introducing self-defense evidence, undermining the alleged victim’s credibility, and showing an absence of intent or mistaken identity.

Claiming Self-Defense in Domestic Assault Cases

In accordance with Texas law, self-defense is deemed justifiable when an individual holds a reasonable belief that the use of force is essential to safeguard their life or well-being. To assert self-defense in a domestic assault case in Texas, certain criteria must be satisfied, including the establishment of all four elements of the defense.

Nonetheless, self-defense cannot be claimed in Texas domestic assault cases if the danger is not immediate or if the use of deadly force is deemed excessive. To substantiate a self-defense claim in a Texas domestic assault case, required evidence often comprises witness statements, physical proof, and any relevant evidence demonstrating a reasonable belief in the necessity of force to avoid imminent harm or injury.

Challenging the Alleged Victim’s Account

There are several techniques for challenging the alleged victim’s account of events, including inconsistencies and lack of evidence. In a court of law, inconsistencies in the victim’s account can be established through various strategies, including:

  • scrutinizing inconsistencies within the victim’s testimony
  • challenging the victim with prior inconsistent statements
  • cross-examination to reveal any inconsistencies or hidden agendas in the victim’s testimony
  • presenting conflicting witness testimonies
  • emphasizing the lack of independent witnesses

These techniques can help cast doubt on the allegations.

Physical proof, such as photographs of injuries, plays an essential role in challenging the alleged victim’s story, providing an impartial basis for disputing the reliability or severity of the charges. Defense attorneys have the ability to cast doubt on the dependability or trustworthiness of the victim’s testimony through cross-examination, scrutinizing the victim’s recollection, perspective, or partiality, and emphasizing any discrepancies.

Impact of Assault Family Violence Convictions

The impact of assault family violence convictions can be far-reaching. Federal law usually prohibits people with felony convictions from possessing or owning firearms for the rest of their lives after being released from prison. This law aims to prevent potential harm and promote public safety. A domestic assault family violence conviction in Texas can have far-reaching consequences for an individual, impacting their educational, military, and employment opportunities.

In Texas, a restraining order is a legal directive that prohibits an individual from contacting the purported victim or approaching within a specified distance of their place of residence or employment. It is formulated to safeguard the safety of the purported victim by legally constraining the actions of the convicted individual subsequent to an assault conviction involving a family member.

Loss of Rights Following a Felony Conviction

Upon a felony conviction in Texas, individuals forfeit the following rights:

  • The right to serve on a jury panel
  • The right to hold public office
  • The right to possess a firearm until five years after their release from prison or parole

Additionally, individuals convicted of a felony for assault family violence in Texas are not permitted to own firearms.

A felony conviction for assault family violence in Texas results in the individual being ineligible to vote until their felony sentence is completely discharged. In addition to the loss of civil liberties and firearm ownership, a felony conviction for assault family violence may impact other rights such as:

  • Difficulties in obtaining a hunting or fishing license
  • Adverse effects on divorce or child custody proceedings
  • Challenges in fostering or adopting a child
  • Potential loss of legal residence status for non-natural-born citizens.

Navigating Life Post-Conviction

Living post-conviction can be challenging for individuals with a criminal record, as they often face difficulties when seeking employment due to their legal history, restricted job options, and industry-specific legal limitations. However, it’s important to remember that a conviction does not define a person’s future. With the right support and resources, it’s possible to rebuild one’s life after a conviction.

The journey can be difficult, but knowing your rights and being aware of available opportunities can make all the difference. It’s crucial to remain proactive, seek professional assistance when necessary, and always keep an eye on the future. Remember, your past does not have to dictate your future.

How to Handle Charges of Assault Family Violence

Being charged with assault family violence can be daunting. Knowing the steps to take under such circumstances is crucial. If you are accused of assaulting a family member in Texas, it’s advisable to:

  1. Seek guidance from a criminal defense attorney.
  2. Consult with an attorney before interacting with the police or admitting guilt.
  3. Understand the potential severe penalties associated with such charges.

An individual accused of family assault in Texas has the right to engage a criminal defense attorney for their legal defense. Hiring a criminal defense attorney is crucial for an individual facing domestic violence accusations in Texas, as they have legal rights, and a skilled defense attorney can help them challenge their case.

Steps to Take Immediately After Being Charged

If you are accused of assault family violence, it’s vital to know your legal rights and take prompt measures to defend yourself. Individuals charged with assault family violence in Texas have the right to:

  • Hire a criminal defense attorney for their defense
  • Immediately secure legal representation following the accusation
  • Have a lawyer guide them throughout the legal process
  • Strive for dismissal or acquittal at trial
  • Receive assistance in expunging records

Taking these steps can help protect your rights and ensure a fair legal process.

Following an accusation of assault family violence, it is important to gather various documents as evidence. These include the crime report, photographs of injuries or property damages, 911 tapes, medical records, witness statements, prior history of domestic violence, and any other relevant information provided by the individual or others. Additionally, the accused can protect themselves by seeking bail and by hiring a criminal defense attorney to help refute the charges.

The Importance of Varghese Summersett – a Skilled Defense Attorney

A skilled defense attorney, like those at Varghese Summersett, plays a crucial role in achieving the best possible outcome in assault family violence cases. Varghese Summersett is a legal firm that focuses on domestic violence cases, particularly assault family violence charges. Their significance in these cases stems from their specialized expertise and extensive experience in addressing intricate legal matters related to family violence, including those associated with divorce and family conflicts.

Varghese Summersett boasts an impressive track record in managing assault family violence cases, including:

  • Proficiency in advocating for clients in the legal setting
  • Vast experience in managing assault family violence cases
  • Meticulousness in navigating the complexities of the law
  • Providing a comprehensive defense strategy customized to individual circumstances

This track record and expertise ensure that clients receive top-notch representation.


In conclusion, understanding the legal complexities surrounding assault family violence in Texas is crucial. From understanding the legal definitions to navigating the legal implications, it’s a vast landscape. It’s also essential to know the rights and protections available, and the invaluable role a skilled defense attorney, like those at Varghese Summersett, can play. Remember, no matter the circumstances, you have the right to a solid defense and the opportunity to rebuild your life post-conviction.

Frequently Asked Questions

What type of charge is assault in Texas?

Assault in Texas can result in penalties ranging from a fine to prison time, depending on the severity of the offense. Class C Misdemeanor incurs a fine of up to $500, while a Third Degree Felony can lead to up to 10 years in prison and a fine of up to $10,000.

What is a third degree felony assault on a family member in Texas?

In Texas, a third-degree felony assault on a family member occurs if it is a second offense or if choking is alleged. It is classified as a third-degree felony.

What is the statute of limitations on assault family violence in Texas?

In Texas, the statute of limitations on assault family violence is typically 3 years. It’s important to gather evidence such as documentation of abuse to support your case.

How do you beat aggravated assault charge in Texas?

To beat an aggravated assault charge in Texas, common defenses include claiming self-defense, lack of intent or mistaken identity, justifying the use of force to protect oneself or others, and proving insanity or mental incapacity in specific cases at the time of the incident.

Is spitting on someone a crime in texas?

Yes, spitting on someone in Texas is considered a crime under the Texas Penal Code, Section 22.01 on assault, and can result in being charged with a class C misdemeanor and a fine of up to $500.

Varghese Summersett is a premier criminal defense firm based in Fort Worth, Texas. Our attorneys focus exclusively on criminal law and represent clients charged with crimes at both the state and federal level. We handle everything from DWI to capital murder to white collar crime. Collectively, our attorneys bring together more than 100 years of criminal law experience and have tried more than 550 cases before Texas juries. All of our senior attorneys served as former state or federal prosecutors and four are Board Certified in Criminal law, the highest designation an attorney can reach. We are the firm people turn to when the stakes are high and they are facing the biggest problem in their lives. - Contact Varghese at  
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