Assault-Family Member is a unique charge. You definitely need a Houston Criminal Defense Attorney to help you. What makes it so unique is the person really doesn’t even need to be a family member. It can be a roommate, a girlfriend, or even someone that you used to live with. Of course it also applies to other family members such as children, wives, brothers/sisters, etc.
One thing that usually accompanies a charge of Assault of a Family Member is a Magistrates Order of Emergency Protection (a restraining/no-contact order). Typically (in Harris County) they are 61 days for a misdemeanor and 91 days for a felony. However, if someone goes through a civil court to get the order, it can be up to 2 years. The ones that are given in court can be signed by the judge even if the family members are no longer mad at one another. It is very difficult for a lawyer to remove this order within the 2 or 3 months that it is intact.
For this particular type of crime the elements are…
- Intentionally, knowingly, or recklessly causing bodily injury to someone else
- Intentionally or knowingly threatening someone else with imminent bodily injury
- Intentionally or knowingly causing physical contact with another when the person knows or should reasonably believe that the other will regard the contact as offensive or provocative
Assault – family member is a Class A Misdemeanor. A Class A misdemeanor carries a range of punishment of up to one year in jail and up to a $4000 fine. If found guilty, you will get what the state likes to call “an affirmative finding of family violence” on your record. That will be on your record for the rest of your life. Basically what that means is if you ever pick up a Class A Assault-FM in the future it will be enhanced to a felony.
But, if during the alleged assault you cause serious bodily injury or use a weapon against the “victim” you could be charged with Aggravated Assault on a family member which is a 2nd degree felony. A 2nd degree felony carries a range of punishment of 2 to 20 years in prison and up to a $10,000 fine. More commonly in Harris county, we see Aggravated Assault-FM by impeding breath. This is the typical charge you will see when there is an allegation of “choking”.
It is very important to have a competent Criminal Lawyer in Houston when handling one of these cases. They are defendable, and there are many potential avenues to keep this from going on your record. A Houston Criminal Defense Attorney that has seem multiple Assault-FM cases should have no problem explaining what possible defenses and outcomes they see in your particular case.
Starting this month (September 2011), every Houston DWI Attorney has started receiving their first “Extreme” DWI cases. The new “Extreme DWI” law went into effect this month, and changes the charge from a class B misdemeanor to a class A misdemeanor for all first time DWI offenders who have a blood alcohol level of .15 or more.
Before this change, any first time DWI was a class B misdemeanor which carries a maximum punishment of 6 months in jail and/or a $2000 fine. A class A misdemeanor on the other hand is punishable by up to 1 year in the county jail and/or a $4000 fine. So this law essentially doubles the possible punishment for a first time DWI.
I think that any DWI lawyer in Houston would agree that this doesn’t make much sense. What is the purpose of the new law? To punish? To keep people from driving drunk? Why .15 and not .149?
First of all, most people who are drinking are not going to be thinking about their blood level. If they are going to drive, they are going to drive. So this law isn’t going to change anyone’s mind about getting behind the wheel. Chances are, 99% of drunk drivers are not going to have a clue this law even exists.
If this was meant to “punish”, then we will just have to see exactly what the state plans to do with these cases before we know if that makes any sense. One thing this law does do is give individuals accused of DWI another reason to refuse a breath test. I think officers should have to explain this to everyone before they offer a breath test. The conversation should go something like this:
Officer: “I am requesting a specimen of your breath. If you refuse you are going to be charged with a class b misdemeanor punishable up to 6 months in jail. If you take the breath test and blow over .15 then you are going to be charged with a class a misdemeanor and you can get up to 1 year in jail. Either way, you are not going home…at least until someone posts your bond.”
Arrestee: “I refuse!!!”
Yeah, wishful thinking! Bottom line is, the law is in effect and you have to be aware of it and the consequences that surround it. Make sure to hire a Houston DWI Attorney who is willing to work hard for you.