Unlike Assault Impeding Breath or Circulation – Family Violence, Assault Causing Bodily Injury – Family Violence is usually classified as a Class A Misdemeanor. I say usually because if you were previously convicted of Assault Causing Bodily Injury – Family Violence, even if that conviction was twenty years ago, a second offense is considered a felony, and a number of jurisdictions in Texas are more than happy to charge you with the felony.
Unlike what you see in the movies and television, Assault Causing Bodily Injury – Family Violence, does NOT require serios, or even lasting injury. While serious or lasting injuries will result in an ABI-FV charge, depending upon the severity of the injury you could be charged with a First, Second or Third Degree felony, not just a misdemeanor.
In Texas, An assault is generally considered the:
· The intentional or reckless
· Use of physical force, or violence,
· Against another person.
· That results in a bodily injury
Unfortunately, the Texas courts took a very liberal view when defining “bodily injury” to include leaving a simple red mark after slapping someone, to a bruise, cut, or someone saying that the contact “hurt” them, or caused them “pain”. That simple slap you made when arguing with your significant other because tempers were flared, and emotions running hot, can result in you being arrested, taken to jail, and now facing up to a year in jail, a fine not to exceed $4,000, or a combination of either one.
To make matters worse, simply being arrested for this offense can result in:
· You facing eviction proceedings from your landlord,
· Not being able to rent an apartment or house,
· Losing custody of your children, having your visitation rights modified,
· Being subject to an investigation by Child Protective Services if any children were around when it happened,
· Not being able to go home if the victim lives there for anywhere from 30 days to, depending upon how the case resolves, more than two years or ever
· Losing the right to possess any firearms, or other weapons
While there are some defenses to these types of cases, such as the victim consented to this type of behavior (very hard to prove, let alone get a jury to believe it), to self-defense (they swung first), sometimes the best course of action is to leave. Yes, leaving your house for a bit is hard, but it is a whole lot better than being arrested, booked, fingerprinted, and having to post bond.
I cannot count the number of times a client has said, or even the victim has said after the client was arrested, that they (the victim) does not want to press charges so the case will go away. If only it were this easy. While the desires of the victim are important, and some prosecutors will listen to them, all too often the desires of the victim are ignored when the victim wants the case dismissed. Once the State files charges, and in some counties that means simply being arrested, the prosecutor is the one that decides if the case goes forward or not. While having an uncooperative victim makes prosecuting the case significantly harder, there are some prosecutors that will go forward not matter what, even if the victim does not show up for trial.
The other thing to keep in mind is that if you are charged with this crime in Texas, some changes to the law governing bail, and potential punishments, make this misdemeanor a lot more serious. Unlike a number of states that decided to modify their bail laws over the past couple of years to make it easier for folks charged with a crime to get out of jail, such as not requiring cash bail, Texas went a completely
different direction. While it is possible to obtain personal bonds for a number of offenses in Texas, if it is an Assault crime of any type, and of any class, the ability to get a personal bond has pretty much been removed. There are one or two exceptions; however, the law gives the courts the discretion to deny personal bonds, even if someone is seeking medical treatment.
Lastly, as mentioned earlier, a first time conviction for Assault Causing Bodily Injury – Family Violence, will carry with it the potential for up to a year in jail, a fine not to exceed $4,000 or a combination thereof. Additionally, such a conviction will prevent you from ever owning a firearm again (Federal Law), and can cause havoc with other aspects of your life, such as your job, where you can live, and the ability to stay are certain residential treatment facilities. As such, it is very important that you talk to an experienced attorney should you face such a charge.