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Law on Domestic Violence in Texas

“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,” according todps.texas.gov.

While the law excludes when parents and legal guardians reasonably discipline a child, it does define child abuse as: sexual contact with a child, intercourse with a child, compelling or encouraging a child to engage in sexual conduct, and physical injury that substantially harms a child or creates a genuine threat.

For the purposes of family violence, “family” includes:

  • Husbands and wives
  • Biological children and their parents
  • Biological siblings
  • Biological parents who have a child in common
  • Former spouses
  • Members and former members of the same household
  • Foster families
  • People in present and former dating relationships

Unlike some states, Texas does not have a separate family violence or domestic violence law. Instead, family violence is included in the list of assaultive offenses under Title 5, Chapter 22 of the Texas Penal Code.

Family violence may be charged as:

  • Assault under Sec. 22.01 (Class A misdemeanor or felony of the third degree),
  • Aggravated assault under Sec. 22.02 (felony of the first or second degree),
  • Sexual assault under Sec. 22.011 (felony of the first or second degree), or
  • Aggravated sexual assault under Sec. 22.021 (felony of the first degree).

A Class A misdemeanor is punishable by up to a $4,000 fine and up to one year in jail, whereas a felony of the third degree is punishable by up to 10 years in prison and by a fine not to exceed $10,000.

A felony of the second degree is punishable by 2 to 20 years in prison, and by a fine not to exceed $10,000. Finally, a felony of the first degree is punishable by 5 years to life in prison, and by a maximum fine of $10,000.

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