WARNING: IF YOU ARE CHARGED WITH ASSAULT - FAMILY VIOLENCE, SEEK DETAILED LEGAL ADVICE SPECIFIC TO YOUR FACT SITUATION. This information is an overview of the basics of the laws in Texas, and certainly does not cover every detail. ALSO NOTE FEDERAL LAW GOVERNS FAMILY VIOLENCE, PARTICULARLY AS IT RELATES TO FIREARMS AND IMMIGRATION CONSEQUENCES, AND THERE ARE SEVERE PENALTIES FOR VIOLATIONS OF FEDERAL LAW! The following is provided for informational purposes only and is not legal advice. Any questions should be directed to a licensed Texas attorney provided with the defendant's specific fact situation.


First, let’s look at the definition of assault. Assault is:
(a) intentionally, knowingly or recklessly causing bodily injury (something as little as pain) to another,
(b) intentionally or knowingly threatening someone with imminent bodily injury, or
(c) causing physical contact with someone that the person knows or should know will be considered offensive or provocative.

Generally, definition (a) is a Class A misdemeanor, whereas definitions (b) and (c) are Class C misdemeanors. There are exceptions for repeat offenders (see below), children, the elderly, public servants, deadly weapons, and serious bodily injury that significantly increase the punishment for these charges.

When that other is a family member, or a person with whom the actor has a dating relationship, a person who resides with the actor (even roommates of the same sex), the charge is called Assault – Family Violence. Prosecutors are going so far as charging jail inmates who assault other inmates with Assault – Family Violence because they argue the jail is the same household!

Assault – Family Violence is a serious charge. A first Assault Family Violence is a Class A misdemeanor, which is punishable by a fine not to exceed $4,000.00 and/or up to one year in jail. A second offense is a third degree felony, punishable by 2-10 in prison and a $10,000.00 fine. A prior offense used to enhance a case to a felony can be a conviction or a deferred adjudication.

There are certain defenses to assault charges. Those most commonly invoked are self defense, defense of a third person, defense of property and reasonable discipline of a child.

Protective orders may be issued that prohibit further family violence, communicating with the alleged victim (or family) in a threatening or harassing manner, stalking, going near their (or their family’s) residence, place of work or business. It is also against the law for someone who is the subject of a protective order to possess a firearm. Protective orders can be issued by a magistrate at the time of arrest (called an “emergency protective order” or “EPO”) or at a later date by a district judge filed in connection with an assault case by the Attorney for the State or the alleged victim or in a divorce. Violation of a protective order is a serious crime.

An alien convicted of or placed on deferred adjudication for Assault - Family Violence or Violating a Protective Order is deportable under federal law.

A person convicted of misdemeanor Assault - Family Violence may not possess a firearm or ammunition prior to the later of the fifth anniversary date of his release from confinement or community supervision. Generally speaking, a person convicted of, indicted for, or on deferred adjudication for felony assault family violence may not possess firearms or ammunition. Federal law regarding misdemeanor crimes of domestic violence ("MCDVs") is complicated and has even harsher consequences than Texas law, and a thorough evaluation of your situation by an attorney is essential to evaluate your ability to possess firearms and ammunition.



The Law Office of Brian Baker
Phone (512) 392 - 2300
San Marcos Texas