Domestic violence is a serious problem in many households in the Austin area. In some situations, a woman might think she will not be assaulted after she gets pregnant, due to the extreme risks of harm to the baby. However, many pregnant women continue to experience domestic violence, and this is both physically and emotionally harmful to the woman, as well as possibly harmful to the unborn child.
Prior to this year, assault in this situation would be charged like other incidents of domestic assault, which is generally a Class A misdemeanor charge with up to one year in jail. However, lawmakers took action, and a new law went into effect on September 1, 2019, that now makes assaulting a pregnant woman a felony charge.
New Charges and Possible Penalties
Now, assaulting a pregnant woman is a third-degree felony charge in Texas. This means that convicted offenders face two to ten years in state prison, as well as a possible fine up to $10,000. These penalties are possible whether or not the unborn child was injured.
These charges might be more common than you might imagine. After all, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists reports that about 324,000 pregnant women are victims of violence each year in the United States. In the three months since the law took effect in Texas, prosecutors have reportedly issued charges against 46 people for assault on a pregnant woman in Harris County alone. This could be an indication that this could be a common charge faced in Texas criminal court moving forward.
Assault on Special Victims
Pregnant women are not the only assault victims that will lead to increased charges against the assailant. The law sets out higher charges and penalties for assault against other types of special victims, such as:
- Elderly individuals
- Disabled individuals
- Emergency workers and law enforcement officers
- Sports officials
When the prosecutor issues escalated charges because of a special victim, it is important to have an experienced criminal defense attorney review the circumstances of your case right away.
There are different ways to defend against assault charges, including claims of self-defense, defense of others, mistaken identity, and false allegations. A skilled lawyer can determine the best defense strategy in your case. The sooner you call, the sooner we can help you defend against your serious assault charges.
Contact an Austin Assault Defense Lawyer Right Away
The law firm of Granger and Mueller, PC, knows that criminal laws and penalties can change on a regular basis. The trend is often to make penalties more severe for violent offenses, intending to deter people from engaging in harmful and unlawful conduct. However, many domestic violence allegations are false, and just because you got arrested does not mean that you should face the serious penalties associated with a crime. Contact us to speak to an Austin assault defense attorney about your case and options for your defense today.