Is Assaulting A Pregnant Person A Felony In Texas?
There are a number of factors that can bump an assault charge from a misdemeanor to a felony in Texas. Assault is normally prosecuted as a Class A misdemeanor. But if the prosecution can prove certain qualifying conditions apply, a jury may convict the defendant of a third-degree felony.
These felony factors often revolve around the identity of the victim. For example, if the defendant assaulted a person they knew to be a security officer, that would justify the felony charge. Similarly, if the victim was “a person the actor knows is pregnant at the time of the offense,” that can also turn a misdemeanor into a felony.
Rusk County May Receives Four Years for Slamming Pregnant Daughter’s Head Into Steering Wheel
A recent decision from the Texas Sixth District Court of Appeals, Grounds v. State, provides an illustration of the latter scenario. In this case, prosecutors charged the defendant with assaulting his daughter. The daughter testified that she told her father she was pregnant. The following day, the defendant came to the daughter’s workspace and “started a conversation with her while she was in her car during a lunch break,” according to court records. Unfortunately, things escalated and then, according to the daughter, her father slammed her head into the steering wheel.
The daughter called 911. A first responder at the scene later testified that the daughter told him that her father “had reached through the driver’s side window of the vehicle and slammed her head down onto the steering wheel.” The defendant himself elected to testify at trial. He denied slamming his daughter’s head into the steering wheel and claimed she made the whole thing up. The jury did not believe the defendant, however, and ultimately convicted him of third-degree felony assault of a pregnant person. The court sentenced the defendant to four years in prison.
On appeal, the defendant argued there was insufficient evidence for the jury to conclude that he knew his daughter was pregnant at the time of the assault, which is required under the felony statute. The Sixth District rejected that argument out of hand. There was no question the daughter was pregnant at the time, as confirmed by the testimony of the first responder who exaxmined her at the scene. The jury was also free to believe the daughter’s testimony that she told her father about the pregnancy the day before the assault. Finally, the appellate court noted the defendant himself testified that he knew about the pregnancy beforehand. That was more than sufficient to establish his knowledge of the pregnancy, thus justifying the felony conviction.
Contact Texas Criminal Defense Attorney Keith B. French Today
Many people think an assault charge is no big deal. But as the case above illustrates, you may face a felony conviction and the prospect of multiple years in prison based on who you allegedly attacked. That is why it is crucial to work with an experienced Pearland assault and battery lawyer who will work with you to address such allegations. Contact the offices of Keith B. French Law, PLLC, today to schedule a case evaluation.