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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.

Texas Domestic Violence Laws: The Basics

Below you will see more specifics about Texas domestic violence laws, including relevant statutes, possible defenses, and where to go to find an experienced criminal defense attorney if you are charged with this crime.

Statutes

Elements of Domestic Violence/Assault

Domestic violence in Texas means an assault against a family member, household member, or a current or past dating partner including:

  • 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 that the offender knows or reasonably should know the victim will find provocative or offensive.

Possible Defenses

  • Unintentional or mistake
  • Lack of knowledge
  • No offense occurred
  • Self-defense

Note: See Assault and Battery Defenses for some general information about defenses.

Penalties

Penalties range from a "Class C" misdemeanor, which carries a penalty of up one year in jail and a fine all the way to a first degree felony, which carries a penalty of five to 99 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

Note: 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.

Note: State laws are always subject to change through the passage of new legislation, rulings in the higher courts (including federal decisions), ballot initiatives, and other means. While we strive to provide the most current information available, please consult an attorney or conduct your own legal research to verify the state law(s) you are researching.

Texas Domestic Violence Laws: Related Resources

Get a Free Case Review

Domestic violence charges are some of the most serious on the books. A conviction can impact your life in so many ways including incarceration, probation, and if you have children, impact your child custody orders. If you or someone you love has been charged with a domestic violence crime in Texas, get a free case review to learn more.

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