By Denton County, Texas Criminal Defense Lawyer Tim Powers
Domestic or family violence charges in Texas range from class c misdemeanors
(the same level as a minor traffic offense), to felonies in other circumstances.
The fact that some are charged as class c’s doesn’t diminish
their importance and can act as a trap door.
A class c assault occurs where there is unwelcome offensive or provocative
contact. The state does not need to prove the victim suffered any pain
or discomfort whatsoever. They appear deceptively insignificant because
they can be charged in smaller municipal courts and before justices of
the peace where the rules are less formal and far fewer people have lawyers.
In class c domestic violence cases, the prosecution may try and add a small
enhancement paragraph to the charge known as “an affirmative finding
of family violence” under Texas Code of Criminal Procedure 42.013
and Texas Family Code 71.004. If the court enters this finding, even where
the defendant gets deferred adjudication, then that finding can be used
to enhance a future misdemeanor assaults all the way to a felony.
Most domestic violence cases in Texas are charged as the class a misdemeanor
assault — where the state must prove some bodily injury (defined
as any pain or discomfort). These cases can be very difficult for the
state to prove. Often times the state will offer a class c deferred on
the morning of trial if they feel badly about their case. Even in those
instances, a person charged must be very careful because the affirmative
finding may still be attached even though the charges reduced and getting
a deferred adjudication
If you are charged with a class c assault where the alleged victim was
a family member or someone in a dating relationship, you should strongly
consider getting a lawyer regardless of how minor the situation or circumstances.
Even a class c conviction can haunt you for the rest of your life.
*Tim Powers is an attorney licensed to practice law by the Supreme Court
of Texas. Nothing in this article is intended to be legal advice. For
legal advice about any specific legal question you should directly consult