Texas Domestic Violence Laws
Overview of Texas Domestic Violence Laws
The use of force in domestic situations that causes bodily injury, threatens to cause bodily harm, or causes any kind of physical contact the other person may regard as offensive or provocative is called domestic violence. If you are the victim of domestic violence, get to a safe place and call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-7233.
In order to prove a case, a prosecutor must establish beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant performed such an act intentionally or knowingly. If actual bodily injury occurred, the prosecutor may also provide evidence proving the defendant's actions were reckless and resulted in bodily injury.
Texas domestic violence laws apply not only to spouses, but to those residing in the same household, individuals related by blood or affinity, including foster parents and foster children, and those in "dating relationships." See What is Domestic Violence? for a general overview of the subject.
Defenses to Domestic Violence Charges
- Unintentional or mistake
- Lack of knowledge
- No offense occurred
See Assault and Battery Defenses for some general information about defenses.
Penalties and Sentences
Those convicted of domestic violence may face penalties ranging from a "Class C" misdemeanor, which carries a penalty of a monetary fine of up to $500, up to a second degree felony, which carries a penalty of two to twenty years in prison and a fine of no more than $10,000. The primary factors influencing which type of penalty is likely to be imposed are the following:
- Victim's relationship to the defendant;
- Defendant's past convictions for domestic violence, or lack thereof;
- Whether suffocation or strangulation was involved
If the defendant is found to have knowingly, intentionally or recklessly caused bodily injury to another (including a spouse), the defendant will be punished with a "Class A" misdemeanor. However, Texas law carves out various exceptions to this general rule based on specificities of the victim, the situation and the type of violence involved which may elevate or diminish the penalty depending on the circumstances.
Texas Domestic Violence Laws: Statute
Texas Domestic Violence Statute (Penal Code, Title 5, Chapter 22, Section 22.01)
Note: State laws are constantly changing - please contact a Texas criminal defense attorney or conduct your own legal research to verify the state law(s) you are researching.