How Serious Are Strangulation Charges?Many people believe that strangulation, or choking, is a form of assault. And this is true – however, what many people are unaware of is that strangulation is a felony crime. Before 2009, choking or strangling was considered a misdemeanor assault, but legislature passed that year upped intimate partner strangulation and suffocation to a third-degree felony (with second offenses becoming a second-degree felony).

Legislature made these changes due to the grave physical dangers of strangulation and domestic violence. According to the Domestic Violence Hotline:

  • “Strangulation is a significant predictor for future lethal violence.
  • If your partner has strangled you in the past, your risk of being killed by them is 10 times higher.
  • Strangulation is one of the most lethal forms of domestic violence: unconsciousness may occur within seconds, and death within minutes.”

“Intimate partner strangulation” is a felony

Under the Texas Penal Code, strangulation against a family member, household member, or anyone the accused has had a relationship with can be convicted of a third-degree felony, which carries a fine of up to $10,000 and between two to 10 years in prison. A second offense conviction can result in two to 20 years in prison and a fine of up to $10,000.

In addition to fines and prison time, anyone convicted of a felony crime may also be prohibited from owning a firearm, voting, serving in the military, holding certain jobs, and other collateral consequences.

Strangulation or suffocation-type assault is defined as “committed by intentionally, knowingly, or recklessly impeding the normal breathing or circulation of the blood of the person by applying pressure to the person’s throat or neck or by blocking the person’s nose or mouth.” This can be done by using the hands, the legs, a scarf, rope, or any object.

Signs of strangulation, choking or suffocation

Authorities are trained to look for certain signs of strangulation when responding to domestic violence and assault incidents throughout Texas. These can include:

  • Difficulties speaking, raspy voice, trouble swallowing, or a sore throat
  • Marks or abrasions under the chin or on the neck
  • Petechiae (red spots on the neck or face from burst blood vessels)
  • Red or bloodshot eyes from ruptured capillaries

The most serious consequences of strangulation injury are unconsciousness, traumatic brain injury, and death. The law takes these accusations and charges very seriously. If you are facing strangulation assault charges, it is imperative you consult with an experienced criminal defense attorney as soon as possible. Your attorney can help build a strong case on your behalf, working to lessen the charges against you or work with the court on alternative sentencing programs. And, if the allegations against you are untrue, an attorney can work to get your case dismissed.

The criminal defense lawyers at the Mary Beth Harrell Law Firm provide strategic representation when you’re facing criminal charges. We will listen to your story and protect your rights. To set up a consultation, call us today at 254-680-4655 or visit our contact page. We proudly serve clients from our offices in Killeen and Copperas Cove.