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How Is Domestic Violence Different From Assault in Texas?

Posted on in Criminal Defense

Denton family violence defense attorneyWhile domestic violence and assault are closely related offenses, domestic violence is seen as much more serious. The main difference is who the victim is. Assault can be charged no matter who the victim is, while domestic violence is committed typically against a family or household member, or a romantic partner. However, it can be confusing to keep track of who might be considered a qualifying victim for the purposes of charging domestic violence. 

If you are facing charges of domestic violence or assault in Texas, the penalties could be severe if you are convicted. It is important that you approach handling your charges carefully and with the assistance of a qualified attorney. 

Who Can Be the Victim in a Texas Domestic Violence Case?

You may hear the terms “domestic violence” and “family violence” used interchangeably. Neither term fully covers the bases of who might be included as a victim in a Texas domestic violence case. The definition can even include people you have never lived with in some circumstances. It is a common scenario for Texans arrested after a physical altercation to be taken by surprise when they learn that they are being charged with domestic violence rather than simple assault. Potential qualifying victims include: 

  • Ex-spouses - Even if you are divorced and no longer residing together, an assault against someone you used to be married to can count as domestic violence. This may seem counterintuitive, as you are no longer in a domestic relationship, but Texas courts will look to the relationship’s history. 
  • Co-parents - Anyone you have a child in common with could be considered a qualifying victim. This is true even if you were never married and do not live together. Because you have a child together, the courts will consider you family for the purpose of charging domestic assault. 
  • Roommates - Anyone you happen to live with could be considered a household member under Texas’s domestic violence laws. You do not need to be in a romantic relationship or related. A simple dispute with your platonic roommates that turns physical could lead to the more serious offense of domestic violence being charged. 
  • Dating partners - You could face domestic violence charges for assaulting someone you are dating, even if you do not live together. A casual, non-cohabiting relationship is sufficient to take a simple assault into domestic violence territory. 

In some cases, it is not always clear whether the alleged victim truly fits the definition of a family or household member. In some cases, a skilled attorney may be able to argue for a reduction in charges to simple assault. 

Call a Denton County Family Violence Attorney

If you are facing domestic violence charges, Marsala Law Group can help you build a strong legal defense. Our experienced Denton family violence lawyers realize that these cases are often more complicated than they appear, and we will evaluate your case for any facts or circumstances that could help you. Call us at 940-382-1976 for a free consultation. 




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