How Is Domestic Violence Defined in Texas?

Texas defines domestic violence as any time a person intentionally, knowingly, or recklessly causes bodily injury to a family member. In Texas, the actual name of the crime is “assault on a family member” not “domestic violence.” While there is no separate crime of “domestic violence,” we often call assault on a family member cases “domestic violence” charges because the way Texas defines “family member” is broader than just members of your immediate family.

Under Texas law, family members fall into three categories.

The first category is what you’d expect: members of your family. These include biological and non-biological members of your family through adoption or blood. People like your mother, father, stepfather, stepmother, brother, sister, children, grandparents, etc.

The second category is people you’re currently dating or have dated in the past. So your fiancé and your ex-boyfriend or ex-girlfriend (no matter how long ago you dated them) are considered family members. Texas law is unclear how many times you need to date someone to be considered to have a “dating relationship,” which is defined as a “continuing relationship of a romantic or intimate nature.” One date isn’t going to be enough, but two or three might be. Also, the law doesn’t care if you and the other person think of yourselves as “friends with benefits” who aren’t dating. If you’re having sex on a regular basis, you’re going to be considered in a dating relationship with that person.

The third category of family members is members of your household, that is, people who live or used to live in the same house or apartment with you but who aren’t related to you. These could include roommates or perhaps extended family members, such as in-laws, living in the same house. Texas law isn’t clear how long a person has to live with you to be considered a household member. And, while the law considers people who used to live with you as household members, I’ve never seen an assault family member charge involving an ex-household member.

So, if you intentionally, knowingly, or recklessly cause “bodily injury” to anyone who falls into those three categories, you could be charged with assault on a family member.

How does the law define “bodily injury”? Very broadly. Bodily injury is anything that causes pain to another person even if it doesn’t leave any lasting marks.

A pinch is bodily injury. A slap is bodily injury. Pulling someone’s hair is bodily injury. All of these are very minor types of assaults and may leave no marks whatsoever, but because they all cause pain you can be charged with assault on a family member for all of them.

For more information on Domestic Violence Charges In Texas, a free initial consultation is your next best step. Get the information and legal answers you are seeking by calling (713) 936-4521 today.

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