Texas Penal Code 22.04 Injury to a Child, Elderly, or Disabled Individual

Welcome back to our ongoing series on Assault crimes in Texas. Today we are going to leave Texas Penal Code 22.01, which has many typical assault offenses and take a closer look at TPC 22.04. 22.04 deals with victims (or complaining witnesses) in 3 unique classes- children, elderly, and disabled.

Let’s start with some definitions. In Texas, a “child” for the purposes of 22.04 is anyone under 14. An “elderly” person is anyone over 65. A “disabled” individual is anyone with

-autism spectrum disorder, as defined by Section 1355.001, Insurance Code;-
-developmental disability, as defined by Section 112.042, Human Resources Code;
– intellectual disability, as defined by Section 591.003, Health and Safety Code;
– severe emotional disturbance, as defined by Section 261.001, Family Code
– traumatic brain injury, as defined by Section 92.001, Health and Safety Code
– or a person who is substantially unable to protect the person’s self from harm or to provide food, shelter, or medical care for the person’s self

What’s the sentence for 22.04 cases?

Good question, the answer is, it depends. With those 3 categories, we get a whole range of possible punishment ranges that are determined by the mental state of the defendant and the degree of harm alleged.

If the allegation is that the accused caused

Serious Bodily Injury (eg broken bone) + Intentionally or Knowingly = 1st-degree felony and the range of punishment is 5-99 years in TDC (prison).

Serious Bodily Injury + Reckless = 2nd-degree felony and the range of punishment is 2-20 years in TDC.

Serious Bodily Injury + Criminal Negligence = State Jail Felony (why not a 3rd degree?) which is 6 months to 2 years in State Jail.

Bodily Injury + Intentionally or Knowingly = 3rd-degree felony, 2-10 TDC.

Bodily Injury + Reckless or Negligent = State Jail Felony.

That includes most of the typical 22.04 assaultive offenses we see. There are some other provisions about nursing homes etc. I’ve never seen one of those cases actually prosecuted.

22.04 Defenses-

This statute allows for a defense if the conduct is the part of reasonable medical care by a medical professional or emergency medical care “in good faith” by lay people. It also has a religious out for treatments that have a “general accepted record of efficacy,” which sounds like science. So basically if you have a religious practice that injures a child or elderly person you better have some study or science behind it.

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