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Assault by Strangulation

In 2009, the Texas Legislature passed a new law making Family Violence Strangulation or Suffocation a felony punishable as a third-degree felony punishable by 2 to 10 years for the first offense or as a second-degree felony punishable by 2 to 20 years for subsequent convictions.

The charge is typically notated as “ASSAULT-FAMILY-CHOKING” on the criminal dockets in Bexar County, TX. In the State of Texas, men are arrested for strangulation crimes at least six times more often than women.

Crimes for family-violence assault by strangulation are treated seriously because recent studies show that women who reported being strangled by their partner are at a much higher risk of being killed by that partner later, either by strangulation or other means.

Moreover, experts have found that cutting off oxygen by strangulation that cuts off the blood flow can cause unconsciousness in as little as 10 seconds. Strangulation can cause permanent injury including difficulty in concentration and loss of short-term memory capacity. In less than two minutes, strangulation can lead to death.

Attorney for Assault by Strangulation in San Antonio, TX

If you were arrested for family violence strangulation or suffocation, you should be aware that these charges are aggressively prosecuted in San Antonio, Bexar County and throughout Texas. In the most serious cases, the prosecutor will allege that the act of strangulation occurred as a part of an ongoing pattern of escalating abuse.

You also need an attorney dedicated to your defense. The attorneys at Goldstein, Goldstein, Hilley & Orr in San Antonio, TX, are experienced fighting allegations for crimes of violence throughout Bexar County and the surrounding areas in Texas.

Call 210-226-1463 today to discuss your case.


The Elements of Assault by Strangulation

Texas Penal Code Section 22.01 in subsection (B) provides that the elements of the crime include:

  • acting intentionally, knowingly, or recklessly to:
    • impede the normal breathing; or
    • Impede the normal 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.

Types of Strangulation Allegations in Texas

The crime of “strangulation” can include:

  • ligature;
  • manual; and
  • hanging.

A ligature is the use of an object such to strangle another person. Many of these cases include allegations of using a phone cord, extension cord, clothing, chain or rope. Manual strangulation involves using a person’s body part as a weapon. Most allegations of manual strangulation involve the use of hands or arms.

In other cases, the allegations of manual strangulation involve:

  • using a foot or other body part to press down on the victim's neck; or
  • placing the neck of the victim in the crook of an arm or leg.

Strangulation can also involve hanging another person by suspension using a rope or cord wrapped around the neck. Another form of strangulation involves suffocation that impedes the flow of air to the brain. A person is suffocated when their nose or mouth of cover with a hand or an object such as a pillow or plastic bag.

Law enforcement officers are trained to make an arrest even when there is no injury or only minor visible injuries. Although strangulation can cause substantial internal injuries, most of these cases involve no actual injuries being confirmed by any medical professional.

Sometimes people use the term “choking,” however victim advocates prefer the term “strangulation” or “suffocation.” Officers are trained to ask the victim if the person accused of the battery either:

  • put his hands around the victim’s throat;
  • put pressure on the victim’s neck in any way; or
  • covered the victim’s mouth or nose so that the victim could not breath.

Investigations into Assualt by Strangulation in Texas

When investigating these crimes, officers are trained to ask the following types of questions: 

  • Has your partner ever covered your mouth and/or nose in a way that prevented you from breathing?
  • Has your partner ever put pressure on your neck?
  • Has your partner ever put his hands around your neck?

When the alleged victim has an improper motive to lie or exaggerate the allegations, acting these leading questions often lead to an affirmative response. The officer has a difficult time distinguishing between false allegations and truthful allegations because often no injuries can be seen.

Officers are trained to look for the following types of injuries:

  • small red spots on the neck or face (often called “petechiae” by medical professionals) that occur after vessels burst from the pressure of  a restraining hold;
  • blood shot or red eyeballs that occur because of capillary rupture in the white portion of the eyes;
  • abrasions under the chin;
  • linear injuries caused by an object used to strangle the victim;
  • dizziness;
  • behavioral symptoms such as psychosis or amnesia;
  • numbness in the extremities;
  • headache;
  • involuntary defecation;
  • involuntary urination;
  • sore throat;
  • trouble swallowing;
  • sounding “out of breath” because of a narrowing of the air tube or a broken trachea;
  • difficulty speaking;
  • signs of neck swelling;
  • having a raspy voice; and
  • complaints of a stiff neck.

Finding Lawyers for Strangulation in Bexar County, TX

Strangulation can also be charged as a misdemeanor or an aggravated assault, depending on the facts and circumstances of the offense. If you are being investigated for any allegation of family violence assault then contact an experienced criminal defense attorney at Goldstein, Goldstein, Hilley & Orr.

Contact us to discuss your case. During the free and confidential initial consultation, our attorneys can explain the charges pending against you, the typical penalties for that offense, and the best ways to fight the charges for an outright dismissal.

Call 210-226-1463 today.


This article was last updated on Friday, November 17, 2017.

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