Criminal Offenses Related to Domestic Abuse:
The Texas Penal Code recognizes several forms of criminal conduct relevant to domestic abuse. In addition, the Texas Family Code defines Family Violence as an act by a member of a family or household against another member that is intended to result in physical harm, bodily injury, assault, or a threat that reasonably places the member in fear of imminent physical harm. Tex. Fam. Code § 71.004.
Criminal Assault (Texas Penal Code § 22.01)
A criminal assault, as defined by section 22.01 of the Texas Penal Code, includes a situation where a person:
(1) intentionally, knowingly, or recklessly causes bodily injury to another, including the person’s spouse;
(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.
Aggravated Assault (Texas Penal Code § 22.02)
An aggravated assault may result in more severe penalties for the perpetrator. A person commits an aggravated assault if the person commits an assault and the person: (1) causes serious bodily injury to another, including the person’s spouse; or (2) uses or exhibits a deadly weapon during the commission of the assault.
Texas criminal statutes also provide for recourse for sexual assault. For more detailed information regarding a person’s rights and resources for sexual assault situations, please visit the Texas Young Lawyers Association’s resource website at http://notavictim.tyla.org/.
Injury to Child, Elderly, or Disabled Individual (Texas Penal Code § 22.04)
In addition to assault, it is a crime in Texas for a person to intentionally, knowingly, recklessly, or with criminal negligence, to cause (1) serious bodily injury; (2) serious mental deficiency, impairment, or injury; or (3) bodily injury to a child, elderly individual, or disabled individual.
Under Texas Penal Code section 22.04, the following definitions apply:
(1) “Child” means a person 14 years of age or younger.
(2) “Elderly individual” means a person 65 years of age or older.
(3) “Disabled individual” means a person:
(A) with one or more of the following (as those terms are defined in other statutes):
(i) autism spectrum disorder;
(ii) developmental disability;
(iii) intellectual disability;
(iv) severe emotional disturbance; or
(v) traumatic brain injury; or
(B) who otherwise by reason of age or physical or mental disease, defect, or injury is substantially unable to protect the person’s self from harm or to provide food, shelter, or medical care for the person’s self.
Abandoning or Endangering a Child (Texas Penal Code § 22.041)
Texas also provides protections for children for egregious acts of abandoning or endangering a child. A person commits an offense if, having custody, care, or control of a child younger than 15 years, he or she intentionally abandons the child in any place under circumstances that expose the child to an unreasonable risk of harm. It is also an offense if a person intentionally, knowingly, recklessly, or with criminal negligence, by act or omission, engages in conduct that places a child younger than 15 years in imminent danger of death, bodily injury, or physical or mental impairment.
Additional Offenses Against the Family
Chapter 25 of the Texas Penal Code addresses various other offenses against the family, such as bigamy, interfering with child custody, violations of protective orders, etc. For example, if a person commits two or more commissions of an assault against family members within a 12-month time period, section 25.11 of the Texas Penal Code provides for enhanced punishment for that person.