Texas Family Violence (Part 2)

Broken.jpgAssault is broadly defined under Texas law. Under Section 22.01 of the Penal Code, one commits an assault if he (1) intentionally, knowingly or recklessly causing bodily injury to another, including the person’s spouse; or (2) intentionally or knowingly threatens another with imminent bodily injury, including the person’s spouse, or (3) intentionally or knowingly causes physical contact with another when the person knows or should reasonably believe that the other will regard the contact as offensive or provocative. Non-bodily injury assault (by threat or contact under (2) or (3) are normally Class C misdemeanors). You must be very careful with these two charges as well, for even Class C misdemeanor assaults appear to allow family violence findings that result in an enhancement to a third degree family if a later family violence assault is charged.

Juries can be very skeptical of domestic assault allegations for the reasons mentioned here. Like fraud, it is very easy to accuse, but very hard to prove. You certainly should NEVER make the decision to assault anyone, especially a loved one, but you should also take extra caution not to put yourself in a situation where a loved one/ex/household member can falsely charge you.

False assault allegations are one of the few instances where it may be better to talk to the police officer about what happened, and what motive your loved one has for falsely accusing you, unless you have already been arrested or charged. If someone has threatened to get you arrested, avoid them at all costs. An enemy can find a way to make your life miserable, including having you thrown in jail. Be extra careful in divorce/separation situations, and bring a witness along if you expect a confrontation with an estranged love one.

Additionally, Section 22.07 of the Penal Code outlaws “terroristic threats,” i.e. threateningi to commit any offense involving violence to any person or property with intent to: 1) cause emergency or volunteer agencies to respond, 2) place any person in fear of imminent serious bodily injury, 3) prevent/interrupt use of public building/place/aircraft/automobile etc. 4) impair or interrupt public communications/transportation/water/gas/power supply or other public service, 5) place the public or substantial group of public in fear of serious bodily injury, or 6) influence the conduct or activities of a branch of government of the United States or Texas (including subdivisions). This offense is normally a class B misdemeanor, with exceptions that range up to the felony level. Never miss a good opportunity to keep your mouth shut.

If you are falsely accused and arrested on assault family violence, call an attorney. The consequences are too severe and permanent to not fight back, and assault cases are too winnable to roll over and take a plea – especially if you are innocent.