Assault by Choking: Third Degree Felony

Impeding Breathing or Circulation Domestic Violence

Assault Family Violence Felony Charges Attorney

Domestic violence lawyers need to have a good understanding of the law, trial strategy, and the local practices. Tarrant County has very strict policies with regard to “family violence” cases, especially felony assault family violence charges. Texas assault family violence charges have serious consequences, especially if they are felony assault charges. One of the common ways an assault case can be elevated to a felony assault family violence charge is by alleging choking or impeding breathing.

Felony Assault Family Violence – Choking

Under Texas assault law, if a person assaults someone that is a family member, dating partner, or a “household” member the assault charge is a Third Degree Felony if the person accused of assault is said to have intentionally, knowingly, or recklessly impeded the normal breathing or circulation of the blood by applying pressure to a person’s throat or neck or by blocking the person’s nose or mouth. Allegation of this nature can include putting someone in a “headlock,” putting your hands around someone’s throat, putting a bag over someone’s head, or a variety of different ways.
Sometimes these cases are difficult because they are “he said, she said” cases, so you’re left with trying to prove you DIDN’T do it. However, in other cases there may be photos of marks on a person’s neck. Assault family violence in Texas is very serious charges, especially if it is an accusation of choking. Regardless of the facts of a choking assault family violence case, you need a skilled and aggressive attorney to work on your case.

Texas Penal Code Assault Family Violence – Choking

The assault section of the Texas Penal Code can be a confusing, because it lays out the general way a person can commit an assault and then breaks down different ways an assault charge can be enhanced. Texas Penal Code Section 22.01(b)(2)(B) contains the enhancement for assault family violence by choking or impeding breathing. It increases the punishment of an assault family violence charge from a Class A Misdemeanor to a Third Degree Felony.
The Texas Penal Code Section 12.34 contains the punishment range for a Third Degree Assault Family Violence charge. If a person is found guilty of a third degree assault they shall be punished by imprisonment in the Texas Department of Criminal Justice for any term of not more than 10 years or less than 2 years. Additionally, a person found guilty of a third degree domestic violence charge may be required to pay a fine of up to $10,000. Repeat and habitual offender enhancements in Texas Penal Code Section 12.42 apply. Along with, probation eligibility laws contained in the Texas Code of Criminal Procedure Article 42.12. You need to consult with a skilled assault family violence defense attorney to under the full range of punishment in a Texas domestic violence charge.

Manner and Means for Assault Family Violence – Impeding Breathing

Strangulation or choking cases can be charged in various ways including: ligature, manual, and hanging.
The use of an object such as a piece of rope, belt, clothing, cord, or other device wrapped around the neck is considered ligature strangulation. When a person is accused of using hands or arms for choking, or placing a foot or other body part onto the another person’s neck or throat, this is called manual strangulation.
The rarer form of assault family violence accusation is hanging which is suspension by a cord wrapped around the neck.
Aside from strangulation or choking, an impeding breathing charge may be filed for a suffocation accusation which involves covering the mouth and/or nose and can be done with hands or with an object such as a plastic bag or pillow.

Evidence in Domestic Violence – Choking Cases

Unfortunately, a person that is looking for signs or symptoms of assault by choking can just “Google” the term and a list is easily found on a variety of advocacy groups’ websites. Sadly, abuse to often occur, but in some instances the allegations of abuse are manufactured by the complaining witness. Often, the “signs of abuse” may be present when the “victim” became violent and the person accused actually was defending himself or herself. A person willing to make these serious false allegations has a wealth of resources for making a convincing complaint of police report. Police and domestic abuse advocates are looking for “signs of abuse,” including:

  • Red Spots on the face and/or neck due to blood vessels that may have burst. These may appear as small red spots and in photos often acne confused for these spots. These spots are called petechiae;
  • Bloody-red eyeball(s) caused by capillary rupture in the white portion of the eyes;
  • Abrasions under the chin;
  • Reported rope or cord burns;
  • Reported neck swelling or stiffness;
  • Apparent raspy voice or panting;
  • Seem to have difficulty speaking;
  • Reporting a sore throat or trouble swallowing;
  • Involuntary defecation or urination;
  • Describing numbness of extremities;
  • Complaints of headaches; or
  • Complaints of dizziness.


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