New law increases penalties for assault when the victim is pregnant
Prior to September 2019, assault on pregnant women was treated like any other type of assault. Now, House Bill 902 has changed that. The bill, which was authored by State Representative Brooks and signed by Governor Greg Abbott in June of 2019, has created harsher penalties for assaulting a pregnant woman. The bill has been called one that is pro-life, as it protects both the mother and her unborn child.
Penalties for Assaulting a Pregnant Woman
Before the bill was signed into law, assault on a pregnant woman was considered a class A misdemeanor, just like any other type of assault. For individuals convicted, that meant penalties of up to one year in jail, a fine of $4,000, or both. The crime is similar to burglary of a vehicle or carrying a gun without a permit.
Now with the new bill, assaulting a pregnant woman is a third degree felony. This comes with much harsher penalties of between two and 10 years in prison, a fine of $10,000, or both. To be convicted of this crime, individuals must have assaulted a woman, known she was pregnant, or reasonably should have known that she was pregnant.
Defenses to Assaulting a Pregnant Woman
Much of the defenses to assaulting a pregnant woman rely on the fact that defendants did not know the woman was pregnant. In order to secure a conviction, the prosecution must show that the defendant knew, or should have known, about the pregnancy. So, if the woman was a stranger and was not yet visibly pregnant, this is a solid defense. If, however, a woman was eight months pregnant, it is unlikely this defense would be successful.
Like all other assault charges, claiming self-defense can also provide a valid defense to assaulting a pregnant woman. The courts will consider how much force the defendant used and consider whether it was the minimal amount of force necessary. This is necessary for self-defense in Texas, unless a person feels that their home or vehicle is being invaded. The courts will likely place more of an emphasis on this consideration however, when the alleged victim is a pregnant woman.
Of course, sometimes law enforcement and the prosecution simply get it wrong. When defendants can prove that the arrest was a case of mistaken identity, this proves a solid defense. Typically, to use this defense, defendants must have an alibi.
Were You Charged with Assault? Call Our Texas Criminal Defense Attorneys
Assault has always come with serious penalties, but this new bill signed by the Governor makes certain assault cases even more serious. If you have been charged with assault, call our Webster, TX criminal defense attorneys at Scott M. Brown & Associates. We know that there are valid defenses to these charges, and we’ll use them to defend your case aggressively. Call us today at (979) 256-4285 to schedule a meeting with one of our attorneys and to learn more about how we can help with your case.