It goes without saying that a felony carries much more serious penalties than a misdemeanor, but prosecutors are also more inclined to pursue maximum punishments in alleged strangulation or suffocation cases. This new degree of felony became law in 2009 when the Texas Legislature passed made it a felony for a person to strangle or suffocate an alleged victim.
Were you or your loved one arrested for an alleged strangulation offense in Plano or a surrounding area of Collin County? You will want to be sure you exercise your right to remain silent.
A person commits assault under Texas Penal Code § 22.01(a) if they intentionally, knowingly, or recklessly cause bodily injury to another person, including their spouse, intentionally or knowingly threaten another person with imminent bodily injury, including their spouse, or intentionally or knowingly cause physical contact with another person when the person knows or should reasonably believe that the other person will regard the contact as offensive or provocative. Assault is usually a Class A misdemeanor, but it is a third-degree felony when an alleged offender commits the crime against a person whose relationship to or association with the alleged offender is described by Texas Family Code § 71.0021(b) (dating relationship), Texas Family Code § 71.003 (family member), or Texas Family Code § 71.005 (household member) and the offense is 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.
Many strangulation and suffocation cases involve alleged offenders performing the prohibited actions with their bare hands. In some cases, an object such as a phone cord may be used to commit the alleged crime.
Visible injuries can be very important in these cases when they can prove strangulation or suffocation. Some of the most common injuries related to strangulation or suffocation include numbness in the extremities, stiff neck, headaches, bloodshot eyes, dizziness, swollen neck, sore throat, small red spots on the neck or face caused by vessels bursting from the pressure of a restraining hold, abrasions under the chin, and difficulty speaking.
Simple assault is a Class A misdemeanor punishable by a fine of up to $4,000 and/or up to one year in jail. Strangulation or suffocation makes assault a third-degree felony punishable by a fine of up to $10,000 and/or up to 10 years in prison.
Even after a person is released from prison, they can still be haunted by their criminal record. Applications of people with strangulation convictions are commonly denied, and these individuals can also lose their firearm rights.
Strangulation may be charged when it is alleged, but it is not always easily proven. When a case lacks clear evidence of a strangulation or suffocation injury, the alleged offender could very well claim that they did not perform the prohibited action.
Some alleged offenders could also claim that their actions were only done for their own self-defense. Defense of others could also be used as a defense in some cases.
How to Improve Your Investigation and Prosecution of Strangulation Cases — View a document authored by San Diego Assistant City Attorney Gael B. Strack and emergency physician Dr. George McClane in October 1998 and revised in May 1999. Learn about the prosecutor’s perspective and the strangulation study. You can also find information about the medical perspective, the use of forensic investigators and nurses at time of investigation, and the training curriculum.
A closer look at strangulation cases | Texas District & County Attorneys Association (TDCAA) — Prosecuting strangulation cases without visible injuries is discussed in this TDCAA article. The article reported that 10 percent of violent deaths in the United States are attributable to strangulation, and victims were women in the majority of these cases. Written after the law was changed in 2009, the article states: “This change in the law gives prosecutors a powerful new tool against abusers who strangle their victims. In the past, law enforcement often treated strangulation like a slap in the face, where only redness was present. With this change, law enforcement can now treat strangulation more in line with its serious nature. While the law was warranted, it has left most prosecutors with the difficulty of figuring out how to prove a felony-level assault beyond a reasonable doubt, without much evidence.”
To Protect and Serve: Law Enforcement's Response to Family Violence — Find information about how police respond to domestic violence calls, their initial contact with the involved parties, and preliminary investigations at the scene in this 2003 Texas Council on Family Violence (TCFV) brochure. Also find information about what happens when an alleged victim is an immigrant, protective orders, and how arrest decisions are made. The brochure also discusses uniform crime reporting and victim notification.
Were you or your loved one arrested for an alleged strangulation offense in Plano or a surrounding area of Collin County? Do not underestimate the seriousness of the criminal charges you are facing.
The Law Offices of Richard C. McConathy understands the stress that comes with these charges and can help you recover so you are able to move on with your life. We can provide a complete evaluation of your case as soon as you call (469) 304-3422 or contact us online to receive a free consultation.