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Assault on a pregnant woman is a very serious crime in Texas. Not only is it a felony to assault a pregnant woman, but a conviction can have far-reaching consequences on your personal and professional life. The laws in Texas are very strict when it comes to protecting pregnant women and their unborn children.

If you or a loved one is facing a charge of assault on a pregnant woman in North Texas, it’s imperative to contact a seasoned defense attorney as soon as possible. Our attorneys have vast experience handling the most serious cases in Tarrant and Dallas counties and understand the gravity of this accusation. In this article, we explain the crime, consequences, and possible defenses to assault on a pregnant woman in Texas.

Texas Law _ Assault on Pregnant Woman

The Law: Assault on a Pregnant Woman in Texas

Under Section 22.01 of the Texas Penal Code, a person commits assault on a pregnant woman if he or she intentionally, knowingly, or recklessly causes bodily injury to:

  • a pregnant individual to force an abortion; or
  • to a person they “know is pregnant at the time of the offense.”

In Texas, bodily injury is any physical pain, illness, or impairment of physical condition. This definition is very broad—bodily injury does not require visible injuries, medical treatment, or even emergency services being called. The victim simply stating they felt pain is sufficient to establish bodily injury under Texas law.

So, for example, let’s say a person pushes their pregnant partner during an argument. Even if the push did not cause any visible injuries or require medical treatment, the fact that it caused pain to the victim could be considered bodily injury and, therefore, qualify as assault on a pregnant woman, which is a felony in Texas.

It’s important to point out that, to be convicted of fetal assault, the accused must have known or reasonably should have known that the woman was pregnant at the time of the assault. This means that if the woman was not showing any signs of pregnancy or didn’t tell anyone, it may be difficult to prove that the defendant knew or should have known she was pregnant.

Penalties for Assaulting Pregnant Woman

Punishment for Assault on a Pregnant Woman

In Texas, assault on a pregnant woman is a third-degree felony, punishable by 2 to 10 years in prison and a maximum $10,000 fine. The punishment used to be a Class A misdemeanor, but Texas lawmakers passed a law in September 2019 that elevated the punishment.

This change was made to take the safety of pregnant women more seriously, as statistics show domestic abuse is common during pregnancy and can have severe consequences for both the mother and unborn child.

Assault on a Pregnant Women if Fetus Dies

If an assault was committed against a pregnant woman and the fetus died, the defendant could potentially face a capital murder charge. Texas law recognizes an unborn child as a potential victim of a separate offense under the state’s criminal homicide chapter.

Texas Penal Code 19.03 states that a person commits the offense of capital murder if the person intentionally or knowingly causes the death of an individual and the person murders an individual under 10 years of age. The Texas Penal Code 1.07 (26) further defines an individual as “a human being who is alive, including an unborn child at every stage of gestation from fertilization until birth.” This means if an assault on a pregnant woman results in the death of a fetus, charges could potentially include capital murder if the situation meets the necessary legal criteria.

Capital murder is the most serious charge in Texas, punishable by life in prison without parole or the death penalty.

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Collateral Consequences of Assault on a Pregnant Woman

A conviction for assault on a pregnant woman in Texas can lead to prison time and hefty times, but the collateral consequences can be just as severe. These include:

  • Loss of employment opportunities: Employers are hesitant to hire someone with a felony conviction, particularly one involving violence.
  • Difficulty finding housing: Landlords may refuse to rent to individuals with violent criminal records.
  • Loss of civil rights: Convicted felons may lose their right to vote, own firearms, and other civil liberties.
  • Impact on family relationships: Such a conviction can strain or sever familial bonds and affect custody or visitation rights with children.
  • Damage to reputation: The stigma attached to a violent felony conviction can cause long-lasting damage to one’s social standing and personal relationships.
  • Potential deportation for non-citizens: A domestic violence conviction can lead to deportation proceedings for non-citizens.As you can see, the collateral consequences of an assault on a pregnant woman charge in Texas can be far-reaching, impacting employment, professional licenses, firearm ownership, family rights, and overall reputation, even beyond the direct criminal penalties.

It is crucial to seek experienced legal representation if you have been accused of assaulting a pregnant woman to minimize these consequences and improve your chances of a favorable outcome. The legal team at Varghese Summersett has a proven track record of successfully defending clients against assault charges.

Assault on a Pregnant Woman in Texas | Pregnant Person Assault

Possible Defenses to Assault on a Pregnant Woman in Texas

Defending against a charge of assault on a pregnant woman in Texas involves navigating complex legal strategies. Here are some possible defenses that could be used, depending on the circumstances of the case:

  1. Lack of Knowledge: The defendant may argue that they were unaware that the woman was pregnant. Under Texas law, to be convicted of assault against a pregnant woman, it must be proven that the defendant knew or should have known of the pregnancy.
  2. Lack of Intent: The defense might assert that the defendant did not intend to cause harm. This can be a crucial factor, as intent is a necessary element to establish many assault charges.
  3. Accident: The defendant could claim that any injury caused was accidental and not a result of intentional or reckless behavior. This would involve demonstrating that there was no intent to harm and that reasonable care was taken.
  4. Self-Defense: If the defendant believed they were in imminent danger of being harmed, they might claim self-defense. This requires showing that the use of force was necessary and proportionate to the threat faced.
  5. Defense of Others: Similar to self-defense, this argument asserts that the defendant was protecting another person from immediate harm. The force used must be shown to have been necessary and reasonable under the circumstances.
  6. Insufficient Evidence: The defense may simply argue that the prosecution has not met its burden of proof to establish the defendant’s guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. This can involve challenging the credibility of witnesses or the integrity of evidence.
  7. Mistake of Fact: This defense involves the defendant having a mistaken belief that, if true, would negate an element of the offense (such as not knowing the individual was pregnant).

Each case is unique, so the applicability of these defenses would depend on the specific facts and evidence of the situation. Legal representation is crucial for anyone facing such serious charges, as a qualified attorney can discuss the best defense strategy based on the details of the case.

Speak to an Experienced Criminal Attorney Today.

Are you or a loved one facing a charge of assault on a pregnant woman in Tarrant, Dallas, Wise, or Collin counties? What you do next can change the trajectory of your life. It’s important to contact an experienced defense lawyer who has experience, expertise and exceptional results. We can help.

The attorneys at Varghese Summersett have an unparalleled track record of success defending tough cases. From the initial phone call, you will experience how we are different. Call us today at (817) 203-2220 for a complimentary strategy session.

Fort Worth Criminal Defense Lawyers

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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