Assault of a Family Member by Impeding Breathing


Houston Domestic Assault Lawyer James Sullivan Defends Family Violence Cases

Harris County Assault of a Family Member by Impeding Breathing (Choking) Defense

Assault by Impeding Breathing is a serious felony offense in Houston. A conviction for assault by impeding breathing (i.e. choking, strangling, suffocating, smothering) can result in severe penalties, including lengthy prison time and a large fine.  Such a conviction can also adversely impact your future, such as by losing many educational, employment, housing and public assistance opportunities.  A conviction for such a crime of violence will also prevent you from ever owning or possessing a firearm.

It is important to hire an experienced Houston criminal defense lawyer because criminal charges for assault by impeding breathing do not have to result in a conviction and the resulting lifelong consequences.  In order to convict you, the state prosecutor must prove to a jury that you committed every element of the felony offense beyond a reasonable doubt.  With an experienced trial lawyer defending you, this is a very difficult burden to meet, and any reasonable doubt in the mind of any of the members of the jury can result in a not guilty verdict or a hung jury.  Therefore, it is vital to contact an experienced criminal attorney in Houston who will fight for you.

If you have been charged with the criminal offense of assault by impeding breathing in Harris county or any of the surrounding counties in Texas, contact James G. Sullivan and Associates for a free phone consultation at 281-546-6428.  Attorney James (Jim) Sullivan is an experienced trial lawyer who will fight for your rights, freedom and future.

One wonders if police officers may suggest to an emotionally distraught woman that she was choked in order to make a felony arrest. This may occur when the woman does not complain of being physically injured or threatened, the reason for most misdemeanor assault arrests. A female who is already mad at her boyfriend or husband may go along with the suggestion, not realizing the seriousness of such an allegation. It does seem odd that in some cases the only so-called objective evidence in the police offense report suggesting that such an assault occurred is the officer’s purported observation of “redness” on the woman’s neck, yet no photos were taken of this redness and the victim refused medical treatment. By the time she realizes the seriousness of her mistake, it is too late. Her boyfriend or husband is in jail on a felony bond and faces an uncertain future in whatever career path he is on. As he may be the only breadwinner, her mistake could ruin the family.

Since the law went into effect in 2009, choking arrests have gone up dramatically. According to a Houston Chronicle blog post by reporter Erin Mulvaney entitled “Harris County prosecutors see increase in choking charges”, the number of felony cases filed for Assault Family Member by Impeding Breathing (strangulation) has increased by 40 percent in the first 6 months of 2012 over the same time period as last year.

Harris County prosecutors have seen an uptick in recent weeks in the number of  felony charges against those who choke victims during an attacks, several years after state lawmakers passed a law to stiffen penalties for the offense…

In September of 2009, penalties for assaulting a family member by choking or impeding breathing became more severe, raising the offense level to a third degree felony. In the first six months of this year, there have been approximately 40 percent more cases filed under this statute than in the same time period last year, said Donna Hawkins a spokeswoman for the Harris County District Attorney’s office.

“As people become more aware of the dangers of cutting off a person’s air supply, it is more likely that victims will report this offense, police will arrest defendants, and prosecutors will file these charges,” Hawkins said…

In 2009, a bill sponsored by Rep. Pete Gallego, D-Alpine, became law.  It made a choking an assault a third-degree felony if it included strangulation or suffocation against someone the suspect had been dating or someone in the suspect’s family and a second-degree felony for a second offense.

Proponents of the bill argued that strangling in domestic violence cases was not taken being taken seriously or punished harshly enough. The offense previously was charged as a form of assault, which can be a Class A misdemeanor and does not require a minimum jail time.

Assault by Impeding Breathing (choking) in Houston

According to section 22.01(b)(2)(B) of the Texas Penal Code, an individual can be charged with assault of a family member by impeding breathing if they were–

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

The law of assault by impeding breathing applies to a person whose relationship to or association with the accused is described as

  • “dating relationship”, a relationship between individuals who have or have had a continuing relationship of a romantic or intimate nature. Texas Family Code §71.0021(b).
  • “family”, individuals related by consanguinity or affinity (see §573.022 and 573.024, Texas Government Code), individuals who are former spouses of each other, individuals who are the parents of the same child, without regard to marriage, and a foster child and foster parent, without regard to whether those individuals reside together.
  • “household”, a unit composed of persons living together in the same dwelling, without regard to whether they are related to each other.

Punishment for Assault by Impeding Breathing (strangulation) in Houston

Chapter 12 of the Texas Penal Code lists the felony punishment for assault by impeding breathing in Houston.

Assault by impeding breathing is usually charged as a third degree felony.  A conviction for such a felony is punishable by a prison sentence ranging from two to 10 years and a fine up to $10,000.

Grand Jury Defense for Assault by Impeding Breathing Charges

If you are accused of assault by impeding breathing, you should contact an experienced criminal defense attorney right away because he may be able to win your case at the grand jury. Once your felony case has been indicted by the grand jury, this option is no longer available.  Attorney James Sullivan has fought and won many felony cases at the grand jury level over his 20 years of legal practice, including 6 assault by impeding breathing cases as well as over 35 other types of felony cases just since November 2008. When a case is dismissed (no billed) by the grand jury, the accused may have the immediate right to seek an expunction of the felony charge from their record.  Sullivan has been able to do this for many of his clients accused of felony offenses.  One of his many client reviews on AVVO:

Very Strategic Attorney for a Criminal Case

First and foremost, few people ever have to deal with the criminal circumstances in life. Life is uncertain, and unexpected things happen. But if you have attorney like James Sullivan on your side, your anxiety should either lessen or stop all together.
My life shattered into pieces when my wife called the police on me for a small argument. When the police arrived at the house, she falsely accused me of choking her and beating her. I was taken to jail. After I posted bond, the first thing I had to do was to find the” best of the best” attorney in Houston. After careful reviews, I found Mr. Sullivan to be an excellent Attorney choice for my case.
What makes Mr. James (Jim) Sullivan the best –of the best?

I contacted him directly to his personal cellphone. He scheduled me a time slot. Even after the schedule, he was very willing to listen to my side of the story. We spent about 30min discussing the case. When I reached his office the same day for a sit down, he was able to share a lot of his personal detail, which was very nice of him to describe himself and also get to know me better. From our hour long conversation, I came out very confident of my case.
He is a very strategic guy. He suggested various strategies to tackle my case. I followed all his recommendations and he was always there to listen to me. He was available at any time of the day through text, email, and cellphone.
On my case, I was initially assigned a court appointed attorney. After discussing my case with Mr. Sullivan, he took over the case on 23rd of January. With all our team work and his creative mind, he was able to get the case dismissed by the Grand Jury on 23rd of February (one month exactly – Case Dismissed – Outstanding Job – Very Impressive). I am very pleased with Mr. Sullivan’s Work ethics, communication, strategies, and personal skills.
Again, I would like to thank Mr. Sullivan for his help in making my life normal again!!
And out there, whoever is lost deciding an Attorney to choose from a crowd, Pick Mr. Sullivan, and I assure you that he will do his best to give you, your outstanding results.

–Posted by Raj Nepal on February 24, 2017

Contact a Houston Criminal Lawyer

Attorney James Sullivan is an experienced Houston Criminal Defense Attorney serving Harris county and Texas since 1994. Sullivan graduated from Gerry Spence’s Trial Lawyers College, the most selective and prestigious trial advocacy program in America.
Harris County criminal lawyer James Sullivan has successfully represented a number of men falsely accused of the serious felony of assault of a family or household member by impeding breathing (strangulation).  By way of detailed defense packets, Sullivan has persuaded the grand jury to no bill (dismiss) 7 such charges since the law was implemented. Sullivan has also prepared and set such cases for jury trial which the prosecutor then chose to dismiss on the trial setting. Certainly each case is different.  Similar results may not be obtained in your case and past performance is no guarantee of future results.

You can call James Sullivan and Associates for a confidential free consultation  at (281) 546-6428.

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